Women look to end six-game skid, prepare to face Wisconsin Badgers

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini women’s basketball team has lost six straight games, but are hoping to end the losing streak as they take on Wisconsin at Assembly Hall tonight at 7.

The streak extended to six Sunday afternoon after they lost a hard fought game to No. 17 Michigan State, 57-51. The loss dropped the Illini to 12-10 overall and 4-7 in the Big Ten.

“It’s mentally draining trying to retain mental toughness, but something like this does build character,” senior guard Janelle Hughes said.

Despite the final outcome, one of the positives to come out of the game was the play of junior forward Erin Wigley who scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half in what Illini head coach Theresa Grentz called, “the best game she has played in three years.”

The Illini have lost to the Spartans and No. 9 Purdue at home by a combined 10 points.

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“We have learned some big lessons that could help us in the future,” senior point guard Maggie Acuna said.

The Badgers come to Champaign having lost their most recent game 58-56 to Northwestern on Sunday, which dropped their record to 8-15 overall and 2-9 in the Big Ten. The Badgers are having their own struggles as they have lost eight of their last 10 outings.

“We can’t underestimate them,” Acuna said. “They are out to get any win they can, regardless of ranking.”

Sophomore guard Jolene Anderson has shown no signs of a slump after winning the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award last season, averaging 17.6 points per game this season after putting up 17.8 ppg last year. Anderson is also shooting 50 percent from three-point range for the Badgers.

She is joined in the backcourt by fellow sophomore guard Janese Banks, who is averaging 12.9 ppg. Banks did not play in the first meeting between these two teams because of a foot injury.

In the first game played between the two, the Illini recorded a 84-54 win on Jan. 15. Acuna gave out 16 assists – the school record for a single game – and freshman guard Lori Bjork scored a career-high 24 points and went 5-of-6 from three-point range.

When asked whether she could give out 16 assists in this game, Acuna said, “It’s all up to my shooters and how hot they are.”