When: Sunday, February 29, 7 p.m.
Site: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
Broadcasts: Live broadcast on UPN, tape-delayed on Wisconsin Public Television and video streamed live at . Live radio on WIBA AM
Series Notes: Ohio State leads the all-time series 30-14.
The saying goes, good things come to those who wait. The Wisconsin women's basketball team knows this all too well. After struggling all season to find their first Big Ten win away from home, the Badgers finally got what they were waiting for in their 59-53 victory over Illinois Thursday.
Now it is time for one last hurrah at home. The Badgers will come back to the Kohl Center for the final time this season and face Ohio State on Sunday at 7 p.m.
Last time these two teams faced off the Badgers did not reach their desired results in their Big Ten season opener. Wisconsin stayed close and trailed 48-43 with seven minutes and 44 seconds remaining, but the Buckeyes used a 17-3 run to earn the 65-46 victory. UW senior forward Lello Gebisa tallied a team-high 11 points and eight boards but fouled out with three minutes and 59 seconds left. Senior center Emily Ashbaugh and sophomore guard Ashley Josephson also contributed 11 points apiece.
Ohio State senior center LaToya Turner's 14 points in the victory led all scorers. This time against the Badgers, the Buckeyes will continue to look to Turner. She is putting up 12.8 points a game and a team-best 6.6 rebounds. Her 56.9 field goal percentage also makes her one of the most accurate shooters in the Big Ten.
Besides Turner, OSU continually depends on sharpshooter Caity Matter. The junior guard is averaging a team-high 15.2 points a game and 3.9 rebounds. Matter is also a force from beyond the arc. Last season her 106 3-pointers set a Buckeye single-season record. This season, she is adding a Big Ten best 2.6 3-pointers per game.
"They have some great penetrators and great athletes out there," Josephson said. "So we just have to make sure we keep them from penetrating and scoring and we have to put the ball in the hoop on the other end. I know Matter is going to be shooting the three so we have to stop her from shooting, so that will be our game plan,"
The Badgers will also have to deal with two freshmen and one sophomore in the starting lineup that play far beyond their years. Sophomore guard Kim Wilburn led the Big Ten in steals during her first season and owns the freshman steal and assist record at OSU with 92 and 168, respectively. This year her 2.6 steals and 5.28 assist averages put her at fourth and third, respectively, in the Big Ten.
Freshman center Jessica Davenport recently joined the starting lineup and is pitching in 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per outing. Freshman guard Brandie Hoskins has also been making some waves. She was named most valuable player of the Buckeye Classic earlier this season and is putting up 8.8 points a game.
Though the Buckeyes have many weapons to their advantage, the Badgers have developed a lot since the first game of the Big Ten season. Now that this is the Big Ten closer, sophomore forward Jordan Wilson knows that the game might be a little bit different this time around.
"It will be fun to close out against them," Wilson said. "I think we've been playing so much more improved since the beginning of the season so I think it will be a great game."
The Badgers season does not stop quite yet. After Sunday's battle with the Buckeyes, the team will head to the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 4. Though the Badgers' record may show signs of a long season, UW head coach Lisa Stone is confident that her team will give a good showing in the tournament.
"It is a great time to be playing well," Stone said. "It's tournament time and everybody's zero and zero. We've overcome injury, we've overcome some adversity and we've stayed together. I like the look on the kids faces right now. We're together and we're playing our best ball right now and that's what I'm very, very happy about."
- Sophomore forward Kjersten Bakke will not play against OSU. After tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee at practice Tuesday and missing the Illinois game, Bakke will have to sit out the remainder of the season. Recently Bakke found a role in the starting lineup and was averaging 2.3 points and 3.6 boards. She will have surgery during the post season and will enter into rehabilitation immediately.
- The Buckeyes are on a hot streak coming into the Kohl Center. Despite going 1-5 during the mid season, OSU has taken seven of its last eight contests.
- Sunday's game will also be senior night. The Badgers will say goodbye to three seniors: Ashbaugh, Gebisa and senior reserve guard Abby Simmons. Wisconsin is 17-12 in past senior nights.
- Though Wisconsin will have the Kohl Center to its advantage, OSU has a 10-9 lead in past games in Madison.
- The Badgers have gone through six different starting lineups this season and expect some more changes for Sunday. With Bakke out, Gebisa is projected to get the starting nod. The line up of Lello Gebisa, Josephson, Wilson, Ashbaugh, and junior guard Stephanie Rich will make its debut against Ohio State.
- Currently the Badgers are in a three-way tie for seventh in the Big Ten. Depending on how they handle OSU, they could end up anywhere from seventh to 10th in the conference.