Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Even with Maryland’s most important conference game of the season coming up on Monday, the Terps have to focus on one thing — not looking past Wednesday.
That Wednesday matchup is with the Wisconsin Badgers, who come in with a 6-19 overall record and an abysmal 1-11 mark in conference play. The Badgers got their first conference win last week with an 82-56 victory over Nebraska, but they had lost 10 consecutive games coming into that matchup.
Wisconsin has actually turned in back-to-to back impressive performances. The team traveled to Michigan for its last game on Sunday, and battled with the No. 20 Wolverines for 40 minutes. Michigan came out on top 75-66, but the Badgers kept it close the whole way thanks in large part to the play of senior forward Avyanna Young.
Young totaled 23 points in the game on 11-of-15 shooting, and added 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals. She is averaging only 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in conference play, but has scored in double-figures in her last four games and is becoming Wisconsin’s go-to offensive weapon.
When the Wisconsin offense is clicking, it is also getting sophomore forward Marsha Howard involved. In conference play, she is scoring 7.3 points per game and shooting 48.6 percent from the field, but doesn’t seem to be getting the touches she needs inside to make a significant impact.
Those touches that don’t go to Howard have been going to junior guard Cayla McMorris, who is having a rough season. She leads the Badgers in scoring, but in Big Ten play she has shot just 28.2 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from 3-point range. Not only has McMorris not shot the ball well, but she has missed shots in volume. The junior guard leads the team in missed 2-point shots and is second in missed 3-point shots.
While the balls stalls in McMorris’ hands, freshman guard Kendra Van Leeuwen waits in the wings. She is shooting 58.6 percent from the field and 60 percent from long range in conference play, but has only gotten off 29 shots in that time. The freshman has had the opportunity, starting every Big Ten game and playing the second-most minutes on the team, but has not taken enough shots. The Badgers chances of shocking the Terps will increase if Van Leeuwen can become an effective volume shooter.
On the Maryland side of things, Brenda Frese’s team will be presenting matchups problems for Wisconsin all over the court. Brionna Jones is still leading the country in field goal percentage and is coming off one of her best games of the season. She scored 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds in Maryland’s 89-72 win over Michigan State on Sunday.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough has also been scoring in bunches, and will look to continue that trend against the Badgers. She was named Big Ten and Naismith Player of the Week after averaging 26.5 points and almost five rebounds and five assists in Maryland’s two victories last week.
The Terps shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Badgers, but crazier things have happened. If Frese’s team is looking too far ahead to the big matchup with Ohio State, this could turn into a trap game. However, it will take the coldest of shooting nights for the nation’s highest-scoring team to struggle against the Wisconsin Badgers.
The game between the Terps and Badgers will tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Xfinity Center. The matchup can be seen on BTN2Go.
Edited by Max Marcilla
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