When: Thursday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m. CST
Site: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.
Broadcasts: Fox Sports Net Chicago, WIBA radio 1310 and online at www.uwbadgers.com.
Series Notes: Penn State leads the all-time series 17-4.
Sometimes close enough just is not good enough. This is what the Wisconsin women's basketball team experienced Jan. 11 during its 60-59 defeat to then-No. 9 Penn State at the Kohl Center.
This time, the Badgers are hoping to be more than good enough when they travel out to visit No. 7 Penn State in search of not only revenge but their first Big Ten conference road victory.
"Our game against Penn State was a great demonstration of our ability to play really well at home," UW head coach Lisa Stone said. "We need to prove ourselves now on the road. We've played pretty much everyone in the Big Ten well at home. It's important that we take our battling attitude into Penn State and not only score but defend and in particular rebound."
Though last game was a nail-biter between these two teams, senior guard Kelly Mazzante will make sure that it is not as close this time. Mazzante has made a name for herself as a scoring machine, leading the Big Ten in scoring all four years of her college career. Her 21.3 average not only puts her atop the conference, but at third in the nation.
The Lions will also defend their home court well with Tanisha Wright. This junior guard is the defending Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. She can also do her part on the offensive end with 14.7 points and 4.5 boards a game.
Besides experience of Mazzante and Wright, Penn State has placed freshman Reicina Russell in its starting lineup 13 times this season. She may be young, but she is still a dominant presence on the inside. The 6-foot-6 center's 2.57 blocks a game is leading the Big Ten and she also contributes 5.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.
Last time, the Badgers were able to hold down the Lions' offensive threats but were unable to climb completely over the hump in the end. Wisconsin was down 13 with only six minutes left in regulation but powered back with a 16-4 run. Senior forward Lello Gebisa and junior forward Ebba Gebisa scored the team's final 13 points but it was not enough. Penn State senior guard Jess Brungo led all scorers with 19 while Mazzante chipped in 15.
This time around the Badgers will be without Lello's scoring. After injuring her right ankle in the first half against Iowa last week, she is listed as doubtful for the game. Though the Badgers fell short in overtime 87-82 to the Hawkeyes to give them their fifth straight loss, Stone and Badger players were pleased with their effort.
"We just dug down," Stone said. "We've been faced with adversity in the past. Our players did a great job of rising up. (Sophomore forward Kjersten) Bakke played every position from the two through the five tonight. I give our kids a lot of credit. They stepped up in the absence of Lello."
"The game felt great up until the end obviously," sophomore forward Jordan Wilson said. "We played together, we had each other's back. I knew that if I was missing a layup that Lello in the first half and Emily were going to get the rebound and put it back in. We were just in sync and it felt awesome. We were having fun out there and it was great. I would love to play like that every game; we need to play like that every game."
After the Badgers' rematch against the Lions, they will travel back to the Kohl Center to face Indiana Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
- The Badgers may have trouble looking for their first win at Penn State. Wisconsin has never won a game in its 10 tries on the Lions' home court and has lost those games by an average margin of 18.5 points.
- Wisconsin will welcome back sophomore reserve forward Annie Nelson. After injuring her left knee in practice Feb. 3, she will make her return against Penn State. The Badgers will be without freshman guard Kandace Evans, though, who is serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules.
- The Badgers are not only winless away from the Kohl Center in Big Ten match-ups but are 0-6 against nationally ranked teams.
- The overtime defeat against Iowa marked the first time that the Badgers were ahead at halftime but unable to pull off the victory.