Wisconsin ready for Huskies

The Lisa Stone era officially begins Sunday afternoon

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What: Northern Illinois Huskies (0-0) at Wisconsin Badgers (0-0)

When: Sunday, Nov. 23, 1:30 p.m.

Site: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.

Broadcasts: none

Series notes: Wisconsin leads the all-time series 6-1, but Northern Illinois won last season's battle 49-47.


After outscoring opponents by an average of 27.5 points in two exhibition wins, the Wisconsin women's basketball team will host Northern Illinois in their regular season opener Sunday afternoon.


The game will mark the official start of coach Lisa Stone's first season with the Badgers.


"I can't wait to get going," Stone said. "These kids have really worked hard for me and it's time now to display their abilities."


In last year's season opener, Northern Illinois earned its first victory over Wisconsin in school history on a last-second shot from guard Monique Davis after the Badgers turned the ball over with 12 seconds remaining in the game.


"I have not forgotten our loss to Northern Illinois," center Emily Ashbaugh said. "That was not a pleasant feeling, and I don't plan on feeling that again."


In this season's contest, the Badgers will look to 6-7 center Lello Gebisa, the tallest player in school history, and 6-5 center Ashbaugh to dominate inside against a Huskies squad that does not have a player listed over 6-3.


"With the kind of size that we have, we have to utilize our post players," Stone said. "We must dominate the paint."


The Badgers displayed an impressive inside game in exhibition play, out-rebounding opponents 108-59 and posting a 90-32 advantage in points in the paint in two victories.


"We have the size, we have the presence, we've got the passers and we've got the hands," Ashbaugh said. "It's very important for us to develop ourselves as a strong inside force and to be recognized as that in the Big Ten; to know that when people play Wisconsin they're going to have to take on a very strong inside game. Knowing that and establishing that early will open up our outside and just let our shooters have free reign."


On the perimeter, Wisconsin will look for another strong performance from guard Stephanie Rich, who averaged 23 points in the exhibitions to lead the Badgers in scoring. Rich set an unofficial career high with 29 points and matched her career high with six three pointers against Minnesota State-Mankato Nov. 7.  Four days later, Rich recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds against Wisconsin AAU Select to close out exhibition play.


Rich and the Badgers, who averaged 81 points in the preseason exhibitions, will face a stifling Northern Illinois defense that held opponents under 50 points in two exhibition wins and surrendered just 60 points in a 77-60 win over Loyola-Chicago in their season opener.


"They're a great opponent," Stone said. "They're well coached, they work hard. They're a very tough match-up for us, but I'm hoping we can rise up."


The Huskies have also displayed an explosive offense, outscoring opponents by an average of 34.5 points in exhibition play and opening the regular season with the 17-point win.


"We can't focus on any one player," Stone said. "One player is not going to beat us. They have a lot of players who can score, but hopefully we'll play great team defense."

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