Dec. 31, 2005
Wisconsin Game Notes
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Madison, Wis. -- The Wildcats (4-7, 0-1) will ring in the New Year in Madison with a 2 p.m. contest against Wisconsin (5-7, 0-1) on Sunday. Facing the Badgers, Northwestern gets a break from ranked opponents as its last two games have been against No. 14 DePaul and No. 15 Minnesota.
"Wisconsin is a good road test for us," head coach Beth Combs said. "They are a solid team, but I think we match up well with them. I am excited for us to get back on the floor."
Last Time Out
Northwestern hung with No. 15 Minnesota early, but the Gophers used a balance of solid post play and free throws to defeat the Wildcats, 69-54, in the conference opener for both teams at Loyola's Gentile Center.
"I liked the energy we played with in the first 30 minutes," head coach Beth Combs said. "We need to get to that next level and play for 40. We need to build on it and bounce back."
A.J. Glasauer (Freiburg, Germany/Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium), Nadia Bibbs (Chicago, Ill./Hillcrest) and Ifeoma Okonkwo (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak) scored in double-figures for the 'Cats. Glasauer led NU with 16 points and five assists, with 10 of her points coming in the first half. Bibbs tallied 11 points and added four dishes to her team-leading assist total, of 58. Bibbs also had four takeaways. Okonkwo recorded her third-consecutive double-figure performance chipping in 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Besides an early 7-5 Minnesota advantage, Northwestern held the lead until the 10:39 mark when a three-pointer by Kelly Roysland gave the Gophers a 22-19 edge. Minnesota spurted to close out the half with a 38-27 lead.
The Gophers maintained the lead throughout the second half. A lay up by Bibbs cut the lead to nine at the 15:45 mark, but that was as close as the 'Cats could get.
Northwestern's defense forced 21 Gopher turnovers, but Minnesota made 16-of-20 free throws, including 9-of-12 in the second half to secure the lead.
The Badgers have lost seven of their last eight games, including their conference-opener to No. 18 Purdue, 77-57, at Mackey Arena. Wisconsin is 2-4 at home so far this season. UW is led by a pair of sophomores -- Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks. Anderson, last year's Freshman of the Year, is the conference's fifth-leading scorer averaging 16.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Banks is seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game and 5.8 rpg.
Today's game is the 50th time these two teams have met. Northwestern leads the all-time series, 27-22, but Wisconsin has won the last 13 contests. Last season, Wisconsin edged out a 62-60 victory in Evanston. In that game, Ifeoma Okonkwo was the leading rebounder, pulling down 12 boards. The Badgers defeated the 'Cats, 70-63 the last time these two teams met (Feb. 23). Okonkwo was the leading scorer for NU, recording 14 points, and grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
Okonkwo Leading the Charge
Not only has Ifeoma Okonkwo led the team in scoring on four different occasions, but she has also led the team in rebounding in eight of the first 11 games, indluding the past three contests. The senior is fourth in the conference in rebounding, averaging 8.2 caroms per game.
Stutz Stepping Up
Over the past five games, sophomore Sara Stutz has been the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 9.6 ppg during that span. She registered double-figure performances in each two of those games, including the first double-double of her career against Western Michigan. She is also tied for second in rebounding during that time, pulling down 4.8 rpg.
To date, the upperclass duo of senior Ifeoma Okonkwo and junior A.J. Glasauer have stepped it up, accounting for 306 of the Wildcats' 732 points on the season.
Bibbs Finding Her Niche
Over the past five games, sophomore Nadia Bibbs has been the Wildcats' threat from beyond the arc. The sophomore is shooting .545 (6-of-11). She also has 11 steals during that time, and 15 assists.