Flames Extinguished

Even with their star player battling the flu, Wisconsin overcomes a sluggish night to overwhem the Flames on the boards, the court and the scoreboard with a 22-point win.

MADISON, Wis. – In past seasons, the success of Wisconsin sank or swam with junior Jolene Anderson. In order for the Badgers to even contend in games, Wisconsin needed a strong effort from Anderson and a little luck to pull out a victory.

Thankfully, those days of Wisconsin basketball seem to be over.

Despite a poor shooting night from Anderson, the Badgers got contributions from nine different players, including a team-high 13 from Danielle Ward, as the Badgers easily defeated Illinois-Chicago 75-53.

With the Badgers (9-1) having no seniors on their bench and a talented core of young personnel, the new-look Badgers have a new pep in their step and are showing it on the court.

"When we play at home, we play even better and it fuels our fire," junior Janese Banks said. "Every game prepares us for the next game. We're doing what we do best [right now]."

With Anderson only shooting 4-for-13 from the floor and battling the flu all week, Wisconsin showcased their depth of their bench, as nine Wisconsin players saw more than 10 minutes on the court. The Badgers also had four players, Anderson (10 points), Banks (12), Mariah Dunham (12) and Ward (13), register double-figures against UIC.

With the flu plaguing Anderson, UW head coach Lisa Stone feels comfortable that her bench can pick up the slack of a struggling teammate.

"Certainly Janese [Banks] has improved her outside shot and Tia Gant has given us good minutes," Stone said. "Mariah [Dunham] could play guard if we needed her to. It's very pleasing to know that we have depth and if someone is down, someone else can pick it up."

For the third consecutive game, the Badgers used their home court advantage to quickly jump on their opposition, building a 17-point halftime lead over the Flames (3-5) on the heels of solid defense and out-hustling Illinois-Chicago.

The Badgers, who entered tonight's game giving up only 51.0 points per game, continued to shut down opponent's offenses. UIC was the ninth Wisconsin opponent held under 58 points this year. Wisconsin held UIC to only 30 percent shooting in the first half and forced 20 Flame turnovers, 11 of which came in the first half.

"It's tough to compete in a game when you give easy opportunities away and that's been the strength of [Wisconsin]," UIC head coach Lisa Ryckbosch said. "Looking at the Kansas game, I think 57 of their 68 points came off of transition buckets, second shots and turnovers. We told our kids that's what we have to take away, but it's tough to do that when you give the easy ones away. Give credit to Wisconsin to be able to create those easy ones."

Wisconsin also commanded the hustle board in both halves, overwhelming the smaller Flames with their size and speed. The Badgers out-rebounded UIC 23-12 in the first half, and increased that margin to 41-23 by game's end. This season, Wisconsin has out-rebounded their opponents in every game this season, a trend Stone hopes is a sign of things to come.

"We address rebounding during every halftime," Stone said. "Whatever we emphasize, we seem to do a better job of doing. I thought we played the boards a lot better in the second half. We still need to make contact and be a little tougher inside. We're doing a nice job on the boards, but it's still a major area we need to work on."

Nevertheless, Stone and the Badgers are 6-0 at home for the first time since the 2001-02, when Wisconsin rattled off nine straight victories to open the season. Even with some disappointments on the court tonight, the Badgers continue to play some good basketball.

"We talk about taking steps forward," Stone said. "Our defense did progress tonight. They pressured us a little bit and I thought we lacked a little bit of intensity tonight. The bottom line is that we're off to a nice start, we got the win and did some good things when we needed to."

Up Next

Wisconsin wraps up their four-game home stand when the Badgers host the University of Albany (2-6) on Sunday afternoon. Although having nobody average in double figures, the Great Danes have four players that contribute over 9.6 points per game. In their last game, Albany shot only 22 percent from the field in a 26-point loss at Buffalo.

This will be the first ever meeting between the two schools.

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