Illinois women’s basketball travels to Wisconsin

By Matt Gertsmeier, Staff writer

Matt Bollant is 96-8 in Division I women’s basketball games played in the state of Wisconsin. On Wednesday, Illinois’ head coach returns to the state he has dominated.

The Illini (8-17, 1-13) face the Wisconsin Badgers (7-17, 3-11) in Madison, Wisconsin.

One hundred and three of Bollant’s 104 games in the state of Wisconsin came during his five seasons as head coach of Wisconsin-Green Bay. While at Green Bay, Bollant had a 2-2 record against the
Badgers. At Illinois, Bollant has posted a 3-3 record against Wisconsin.

Bollant is looking to break above .500 against the Badgers and snap his team’s losing streak Wednesday.

The Illini are on an eight-game losing skid and their last win was Jan. 17 against the Badgers: They squeaked by 71-65. Center Chatrice White and forward Alex Wittinger had 16 points apiece in the game.

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    Bollant said he thoughtIllinois played well against the Badgers in its game earlier this season.
    Wednesday, however, might be a bit more intense given both teams are in the middle of droughts.

    “(We) played really well against Wisconsin at home last time and (we’re) trying to play well
    again,” Bollant said. “Obviously both teams are anxious to get a win and continue to get better.”

    Since Illinois and Wisconsin’s first meeting this season, the teams have a combined record of
    1-15.

    Illinois’ average margin of defeat over the last eight games has been about nine points. Wisconsin has a 16-point average margin of defeat in its last seven losses. Illinois has an advantage over Wisconsin in team averages of rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals, blocks, free-throw percentage and points per game. Wisconsin has the advantage in field goal and three-point percentage.

    This is the first time Illinois is taking on an opponent they have more overall wins than
    since its Jan. 23 game against Penn State. The Illini lost to the Nittany Lions 56-65 at home.

    Wisconsin is led by three seniors – Nicole Bauman, Dakota Whyte and Michala Johnson. Batman
    leads Wisconsin in points per game, averaging about 16, Whyte leads in assists, averaging four a game and Johnson leads in rebounds with seven.

    Bollant expects Wisconsin’s team leaders to be factors for the Badgers Wednesday.

    “They have three seniors that are wanting their season to end on a good note,” Bollant said. “I
    think those three are their key to their team.”

    For Illinois to piece together its first win in over a month, it will need strong
    performances from its post players. White has been averaging about 23 points and nine rebounds in her last five games.

    Wittinger is still recovering from a broken thumb. Before the injury Witting was averaging about 12 points in conference games. In her two games back, she has averaged six points a game.

    Despite her lack of usual production, Bollant said he thinks Wittinger is improving.

    “Her effort has been great,” Bollant said about Wittinger. “I think each game she’ll get more comfortable.
    I don’t think she shot it as well as she did before, but having a broken finger on your shooting hand can affect it. But she looked really confident yesterday in practice and she’s getting better each day and I expect her to play well.”

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