Offensive rhythm lacking for Badgers against NU

first_imgIn the first half of Sunday’s game against Northwestern (13-9, 4-7), the Wisconsin women’s basketball team (16-6,6-5) outshot the Wildcats by a full 10 points in field goal percentage. For the remainder of the game, Northwestern shot 65 percent from the field.Guess who came out victorious?In the 68-62 loss to the Wildcats, the Badgers saw a 32-27 halftime lead quickly evaporate as Northwestern opened with a 6-2 run in the first two minutes of the second half. In a game that featured a variety of statistical oddities, it was defense and free throw shooting that felled Wisconsin.“Credit Northwestern,” Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone said. “They came out in the second half and made nine of nine right away. We allowed 65 percent shooting in the second half, and that’s not who we are. We’re a defensive team.”Despite the presence of 6-foot-5 junior center and reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Amy Jaeschke and 6-foot-2 freshman forward Kendall Hackney in the Wildcats’ starting lineup, the Badgers managed to win the points in the paint battle, 26-14. Furthermore, while Wisconsin forced five more turnovers, it was Northwestern that had 19 points off turnovers compared to the Badgers’ 17.Three-point shooting was of particular significance in Sunday’s contest, as Northwestern shot 53.3 percent from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Wisconsin converted only 21.4 percent from three-point land. Interestingly, though, the Badgers attempted 16 more shots than the Wildcats, and made six more — highlighting the impact of NU’s hot shooting.For Wisconsin, only three players even attempted a three-point shot. Northwestern, meanwhile, had four players who attempted at least three, and a total of six Wildcats put up shots from behind the arc. Senior guard Kristin Cartwright and junior guard Beth Marshall were especially dangerous, going 2-for-2 and 2-of-3 from three-point land, respectively.“I think it kind of felt like we were a step behind the whole night,” Wisconsin junior guard Alyssa Karel said. “A step slow to help, a step slow to recovery. We didn’t really have our flying around mentality that we usually have, and I think that was what cost us. We were just slow tonight.”The Badgers’ poor defense took some of the luster off another solid offensive game for Karel, who contributed 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and a superlative performance by junior forward Lin Zastrow, who scored a career-high 19 points by connecting on 8-of-15 shooting from the field.However, Wisconsin was also hurt by a lack of free throw attempts.Amazingly, the Badgers got to the charity stripe zero times in the first half, compared to eight for the Wildcats. In the second half, Stone’s squad went to the foul line seven times and converted five, but Northwestern went 12-for-16 to finish 18-of-24 for the game.“We weren’t being aggressive offensively,” Stone said of the limited number of free throw attempts. “Now a lot of that has to do with maybe facing a zone; we’re not really driving the ball to the basket, it’s maybe a turn-and-catch. But we got a little more aggressive in the second half.“But once again, their defense sped us up. We tried to live and die by the outside shot, and I thought once we got Lin going — and I thought Lin had a great game offensively — really got her going, got the ball inside, we found some success. But we didn’t get there because we weren’t aggressive offensively.”Also of notable impact was Northwestern’s defensive approach.Throughout the game, the Wildcats rotated their defense between a 1-2-2 full-court press, zone and man-to-man defense. The 1-2-2 was especially crippling for the Badgers, who often struggled to get the ball across half court and saw many of their turnovers come as a result of the full-court pressure.In addition to the lack of offensive rhythm, Stone’s squad dropped its first game with three or more players scoring in double digits. Before Sunday’s loss, the Badgers were 10-0 in such games. In addition to Zastrow and Karel, senior guard Rae Lin D’Alie contributed 10 points.“We could not get into any rhythm,” Stone said. “That was a mixture of the 1-2-2 and the zone as well as their man-to-man. They mixed it up quite a bit. We found, I thought, some really good opportunities in the first half, I thought we moved the ball really well and they went with what was working for them, and that was their 1-2-2 and their zone.”last_img

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