Women’s basketball gets first shot at Badgers

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For those excited for the big in-state men’s basketball match-up between Marquette and Wisconsin on Saturday, the women’s basketball team has something to say: Look here first.

The Golden Eagles will welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to the Al McGuire Center Friday night, looking to avenge last year’s 19-point loss in Madison.

Wisconsin comes in at 7-2 (0-1 Big Ten) fresh off a loss to No. 3 Ohio State, which ended its four-game win streak. The Badgers have a very balanced attack with five players averaging over seven points per game. Junior Alyssa Karel leads the attack, averaging a team high 12.4 points.

The Badgers are not known for overwhelming opponents on the offensive end. They are averaging just 62 points per game and have scored 70 or more only twice this season.

However, keeping with the Big Ten stereotype, Wisconsin’s defense is stifling. It is giving up just 55.1 points per game while holding opponents to a 35.2 shooting percentage.

The thing about rivalry games, though, is once the ball is tipped, all stats go out the window. There will be a special buzz in the air at the Al for this one, and emotions will play a huge role.

“It’s an important game because there’s a lot of people in the state talking about it,” coach Terri Mitchell said. “People are more aware when you play in-state games.

“Are we excited about playing (Wisconsin)? Yeah.”

Players can also feel the difference competing in a rivalry game.

“That’s a pride thing right there,” sophomore Jessica Pachko said. “That’s your pride, that’s bragging rights. That’s an in-state rival and one of the closest schools to us, so it’s definitely a big game.”

Freshman and Milwaukee native Sarina Simmons will get her first taste of playing in the rivalry Friday night and can already sense the excitement.

“It’s going to be big,” Simmons said. “It’s a huge rivalry. (We’re) probably going to see a lot of red shirts in here.”

After all the hoopla and emotions of the rivalry match are over, the Golden Eagles will have a day to rest before hosting Robert Morris on Sunday.

Energy and conditioning will be key in playing their third game in five days. Tired legs lead to jump shots falling short and poor defense.

“We let the coaches take care of practice,” Pachko said. “They know how much to push us and how much to give us rest.”

The Colonials come in at 5-2 (1-0 Northeast) having won three games in a row as well as five of their last six.

They are led by senior Angela Pace, who is averaging over 16 points, six rebounds and six assists per game. They are reliant on their starters, who have combined to average 43.1 out of 65.1 points per game this season.

Robert Morris is a very good shooting team, shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from behind the arc. Marquette will have to close out on the perimeter to keep the Colonials from lighting it up from the field.

With conference play less than a month away, two non-conference victories would greatly benefit Mitchell and the Golden Eagles as the season progresses.

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