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UW looks to break even in conference

first_imgAfter getting beat on home court by Wisconsin earlier in the season, the Michigan women’s basketball team will look to turn the tables on the Badgers in Madison tonight.Earlier this season in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Wolverines (8-12, 1-6 Big Ten) saw Jolene Anderson and company put together a late rally to pull out a 62-59 victory.Wisconsin (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten), coming off a 74-50 thumping of Northwestern on Sunday, is looking to keep things rolling and improve to .500 in conference play.UW head coach Lisa Stone hopes to draw from the numerous positives she saw in her team’s play against the Wildcats, particularly the defense late in games.”Our second-half defense was outstanding,” Stone said. “It was the best second-half defense we’ve played since Kansas here at home.””We definitely stepped our defense up, especially defensive transitions,” freshman guard Rae Lin D’Alie added. “We’re getting back much faster. One thing is we’ve got to start communicating better.”Wisconsin hopes to do something Thursday it was unable to accomplish in its previous game against Michigan: get off to a fast start and maintain a lead. The Badgers were unable to hold a 13-point lead after starting sluggishly against the Wolverines.”Shot selection’s going to be key,” Stone said. “We’re going to have to make sure we’re patient offensively and very aggressive defensively.”Center Caitlin Gibson also stresses patience in order to start quickly and preserve the lead.”We just need to be patient and take what’s there and not look for something that we want to be there,” Gibson said. “We do that a lot. We see things that we think will happen, but they don’t.”In order for the Badgers to get going offensively, they will need to shoot the ball better than they have been as of late. Against Michigan, UW shot just 25 percent from the field in the second half and 36 percent for the game, and converted only 40 percent of its shots against Northwestern.”A lot of it has to do with shot selection,” Stone said. “We’ve been roaming around the 3-point line a little too much. We need to get the ball inside a little bit more and be a little more patient offensively, and we’ll get better shots.”Unlike other teams Wisconsin has faced so far this season, Michigan does not have a marquee name. In fact, no player on the team averages double figures in points.Freshman center Krista Phillips leads the team in scoring with 8.5 points per game. This balanced attack will mean the Badgers must focus on the Wolverine team as a whole and know what each player’s role is.”Their lineup changes so often,” Stone said. “They’ve got some great players. (Phillips) did some nice things against us, and I thought (Kalyn) McPherson played really well. It’s more about us defending Michigan versus maybe one or two standout players.”Forward Mariah Dunham hopes the post players can draw from their previous experience against Phillips.”We’ve played her before,” Dunham said. “We’re used to guarding a bigger girl inside, and we should know her tendencies of what she does and doesn’t do. It’s just important that we jump on them right away.”Back in the lineup for the Badgers will be junior forward Danielle Ward, who missed the team’s previous game against the Wolverines with an ankle injury.Ward will be coming off the bench, leaving the starting spot open for freshman Brittany Heins, whose play has earned praise from coach Stone.”Brittany is going to start for us and has earned her stripes and has done some good things. She can stretch the defense with the 3-point shot and works hard on defense,” Stone said. “She’s my Mike Wilkinson on this team. She plays just like Mike.”With perhaps the biggest home game of the year coming up Sunday against Minnesota, Wisconsin will have to make sure to focus on Michigan and not look too far ahead.”We’re taking it one game at a time,” Dunham said. “You really can’t look ahead.”last_img read more