It’s something that hasn’t happened since 2004-2005 — three-straight wins by 20 points or more.
Fresh off of an 80-58 win over Nebraska on Sunday, the No. 8 Lady Lions (13-2, 3-0 Big Ten) are looking to continue their recent dominance over opponents. During the past two games, the Lions have won by 21-plus points and with another dominant performance against the Badgers at 7 tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center, it would mark the third-consecutive 20-point blowout for the Lions.
But the blue and white are not taking the Badgers (8-9, 0-4 Big Ten) lightly, even though Wisconsin is yet to win a conference game and has struggled on the road. This season the Badgers are 1-6 away from the Kohl Center and have lost senior guard Taylor Wurtz for the rest of the season with a back injury. She was a big component of their offense, averaging 12.6 points per game.
Even without Wurtz being on the floor, the Badgers have managed to still compete with their opponents and their competitiveness has grabbed the attention of Lions’ head coach Coquese Washington.
“I know they’ve suffered a lot of injuries over the course of the season, especially with losing Taylor Wurtz, she was a big key for them,” Washington said. “But they rallied with the exception of the Nebraska game to start the season, they’ve played some pretty competitive games in the Big Ten.”
With the loss of their second-leading scorer, the Badgers have been forced to have other players step up in her absence. Senior guard Morgan Paige leads the team in scoring at 15.9 points per game and ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring. Fellow guard Jacki Gulczynski also averages double figures for the Badgers, chiming in with 11.1 ppg.
Washington is not overlooking the Badgers and she knows that her Lions will need to tighten up on defense to prevent them from having high offensive success.
“One of their strengths is they play as a team, they don’t necessarily overwhelm you with any one player, but the sum of their parts play well together as a team,” Washington said. “We definitely got to make sure we don’t let Morgan Paige get loose and go off for a big game.”
So far this season, the Lions have held opponents to 57.5 points per game –– ranking them fourth in the conference –– and they are beating opponents by an average of 17.3 points per game. With their high-octane offense, which scores nearly 75 points per game, it’s no surprise that the Lions have dominated their counterparts.
However, there could be one potential flaw with the Lions’ chance to capture their third-straight 20-point win. The Badgers’ defense is right behind the Lions’ and they are holding their opponents to just under 58 points per contest.
The Lions have proved they can pick apart defenses in the past when they rattled off 76 points at Michigan State, the top defensive unit in the conference at 47.4 points per game.
Despite the expected defense challenges that await, the Lions know they will need to be focused from the opening tip in order to remain unbeaten at home.
“The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in the nation, so you always have to put on your ‘A’ game no matter where you are or who it is,” redshirt senior forward Mia Nickson said. “It’s important to make sure everybody is focused and ready to go.”