Wisconsin hits road to take on Nittany Lions

first_imgWisconsin captain Rae Lin D\’Alie looks to lead the Badgers to their second straight win.[/media-credit]Coming off a regular season sweep of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team will hit the road beginning tonight at Penn State.The Badgers rebounded nicely from a heartbreaking loss at Indiana to complete their first season sweep of the Illini since 2003-04 with their 61-43 victory on Sunday. The Badgers were led by sophomore guard Alyssa Karel’s 15 points while juniors Teah Gant and Mariah Dunham chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.If the Badgers want to make it two in a row, they will have to defeat a much-improved Nittany Lions team that they swept last year. Though Penn State has improved greatly from last year, they are still struggling in the Big Ten. They come into the game against Wisconsin with a 2-5 conference record and a 7-10 record overall.Penn State is led by junior guard Tyra Grant and senior guard Brianne O’Rourke, who average 18.5 and 11.8 points per game, respectively. O’Rourke also averages 4.7 assists, good for third-best in the Big Ten. The Lions run a fast-moving offense that excels in transition moments, which means the Badgers’ Big Ten-best defense will have to play well to slow their attack.“They are very explosive,” Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. “Brianne O’Rourke is one of the best point guards around and is always pedal to the metal. Tyra Grant can put up big numbers. She is very good one-on-one, and she is going to try to get her shot.“Mashea Williams is their other good guard. Their post players have rotated, but they are transition-first. They are very high octane, are much improved from last season, and play well at home.”Karel knows that for Wisconsin to slow Penn State down, they will have to limit fast breaks and stick to their defensive strategy.“They are a really good transition team,” Karel said. “They really like to push the ball all the time. We definitely need to be at our best in transition defense. We also need to rebound well and that’s something we’re really focusing on.”Like Jenna Smith of Illinois, Tyra Grant is the key to any offensive success that the Lions have. Wisconsin was able to contain Smith on Sunday and will look to do the same against Grant on Thursday.Even though Grant will be one of the most explosive players the Badgers face all season, Stone insisted that the Badgers have to maintain the defense that has led to their success when defending her.“We won’t change anything on our defense for her; we’ll just always make sure we know where she is,” Stone said. “She is going to look for her shot, and we just always have to have the vision to see where she’s at.”Junior point guard Rae Lin D’Alie echoed that sentiment.“She’s very good with the ball, very good offensively,” D’Alie said. “We’re going to stay in the pack against her and make sure we have someone off the ball watching her. We just have to keep doing our thing.”Also important in the Badgers victory over Illinois was their ability to take care of the ball. Wisconsin had only five turnovers, tying a school record set last year against Penn State. So far this season, the Badgers have averaged only 15.4 turnovers, No. 28 in the nation. The Nittany Lions, however, counter with a Big Ten-best 9.41 steals per game.“We have to make sure that we have solid hand-to-hand passing and try to carry over the kind of game we had against Illinois,” Stone said. “If we are able to do that, we will always be in the game.”As point guard, D’Alie handles the ball more than anyone on the team and therefore knows the importance of ball security and the success that comes with it.“Taking care of the ball and taking good shots have always been our major focuses so if we can continue to do that, we’ll be looking pretty good.”last_img read more