Women’s basketball: UW defense looks to step up against leading scorer in nation

first_imgComing off three straight losses, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team will look to get back to winning ways Thursday night at the Kohl Center, yet faces an offensively explosive Ohio State team led by freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell.Mitchell, the No. 1 recruit in the nation in some rankings, has not disappointed in her first season. She leads the nation in scoring, averaging 25.9 points per game, and also leads the country in three-pointers made (75).“We’re gonna try to just get it out of her hands,” Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “Not trapping her or anything, she’s too fast, she’s too quick. A scorer like that? Hard to stop. Let hope she’s off and she’s missing.”This past Sunday, the freshman phenom poured in 37 points, with 31 coming in the second half or overtime period in the Buckeyes’ 79-71 OT win at Purdue. She made four three’s and was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.“We’re gonna mix it up,” Kelsey said of her team’s defensive game plan. “I don’t think we can do one thing the whole game … It’s just identifying where she is and kind of gang-guarding her.“The girl can just flat out score. And she’s left-handed, that’s even worse.”The performance led her to earn her second straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, as well as Big Ten Player of the Week honors. It was the second time this season she’s won both distinctions in the same week, and was the fifth time she’s been named conference Freshman of the Week.Junior Ameryst Alston, who averages 20.8 points per game, joins Mitchell in the backcourt as another formidable scoring threat for the Buckeyes. Freshman forward Alexa Hart leads Ohio State in blocks (3.8 per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game).For Wisconsin, the three junior guards will look to continue to their recent offensive success. Dakota Whyte has scored in double figures in her last six games, while Nicole Bauman and Tessa Cichy both set new career-high point totals in the Badgers 77-71 loss at Michigan State Sunday, with 23 and 15 points, respectively.“It gave me a lot of confidence that I know I can hit my shot,” Bauman said of her career-high day. “My teammates will hit me when I’m open, and vice versa, and just trusting one another, and getting more into the flow of a game, rather than an individual game.”Bauman said it will be important for the Badgers to not fall into shooting dry spells, which allows the opposition to pull away.“There are certain times in the game where we have a lapse, where we just can’t get the ball to go in the hoop,” Bauman said. “Then the other team will get up by like 10 points and then we can’t seem to fight out of that hole.”Whyte said that there is still more room for improvement on the offensive end, however.“It’s somewhat where I want it to be,” Whyte said of her performance this season thus far. “I don’t wanna be a 20-point scorer every game. I’d rather have more assists.”Wisconsin will have to be better than the 60.9 points it averages per game if it wants to have a chance of beating Ohio State, which averages 81.0 points per game. In Big Ten play, the Buckeyes have scored 79 points or more in five of their last eight games, while Wisconsin has eclipsed 79 points once the entire season.In the last two games though, Wisconsin has scored 72 and 71 points.“I don’t think that offense is the problem,” Whyte said. “I think that we are capable of scoring, everyone on our team, especially the starters, but I think that defense is something we really need to work on.”Whyte, Cichy and Bauman have seen increases in their scoring numbers from a year ago. Bauman (+6.8), ranks fourth in the Big Ten among most improved scorers, while Cichy (+6.2) and Whyte (+4.2) rank sixth and ninth, respectively.“We’re capable,” Kelsey said. “We just have to play some defense.”Who: Ohio State vs. WisconsinWhere: The Kohl Center, Madison, WisconsinWhen: 8 p.m.TV: Big Ten Network (BTN) with Eric Collins and Sherry TillRadio: The Mic 92.1 with Jon AriasLast Time: Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 82-71 on Feb. 2, 2014.All-time series: Ohio State leads 47-17, including a 17-12 mark in Madison. The Buckeyes have won 21 of the last 23 meetings dating back to 2001.WisconsinProbable Starters: G Dakota Whyte (10.4 points per game), G Nicole Bauman (12.9 ppg), G Tessa Cichy (8.0 ppg), F Jacki Gulczynski (9.1 ppg), F Cassie Rochel (6.1 ppg)Key Reserves: G/F AnnMarie Brown, G Cayla McMorris, F Malayna JohnsonKey Injury: Michala Johnson (torn ACL)Ohio StateProbable Starters: G Kelsey Mitchell (25.9 ppg), G Cait Craft (7.9 ppg), G Ameryst Alston (20.8 ppg), G Asia Doss (5.6 ppg), F Alexa Hart (10.5 ppg)Key Reserve: G Shayla Cooper (10.4 ppg)last_img read more