first_imgAfter losing their last five games in the Big Ten season, a break from the grueling conference schedule may be just what the Wisconsin women’s basketball team needs to get back on track.For the last non-conference game of the year, the Badgers will play host to the Panthers of Eastern Illinois Monday in the Kohl Center at 7 p.m.Eastern Illinois enters the game with a record of 8-10 overall and is coming off a 15-point win over Tennessee State Saturday. The Panthers played a difficult non-conference schedule and lost their first six games of the year.But since then they are 8-4, including 7-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference, and are just a game and a half out of first place in the conference.Eastern Illinois is led by a pair of Megans. Senior guard Megan Sparks averages 15.8 points and three rebounds a game; 5-foot-7 freshman Megan Edwards has scored in double figures in eight straight games and has been named the conference freshman of the week three weeks running. She also leads the team in assists with 3.3 per contest and had a career high eight in Saturday’s win over Tennessee State.The Badgers may benefit from their size advantage over Eastern Illinois, as the tallest player the Panthers can put on the court is 6-foot-2 while Wisconsin can put two forwards on the court that are both listed at 6-foot-4.This Wisconsin team has been hampered by injuries and is looking to get healthy with multiple starters out of the lineup.Senior forward Annie Nelson has been playing very few minutes since her right shoulder injury, and sophomore point guard Janese Banks has not played since early January. Banks, the second-leading scorer on the team, has been out with a left foot injury.”Without a true point guard out there right [now], we’re trying to run hits to get it to Jolene (Anderson) and kicks to Ashley (Josephson),” UW head coach Lisa Stone said. “Hopefully, we get Janese (Banks) back soon. We hope to hear more positive news. Hopefully she can start practice on Saturday or Sunday and get her out here on Monday night.”Replacing them in the starting lineup has been guard Shari’ Welton and center Caitlin Gibson.Gibson, a true freshman from Jefferson, Wis., is averaging 17 minutes a game while getting used to the physical play of the Big Ten.Welton has just five career starts under her belt but has played admirably filling in, averaging five points and an assist in her last five games.”Players have stepped up and Shari’ has done a great job for us,” Stone said. “They’re all stepping up to the challenge and they are not afraid of anybody and I’m proud of our kids.”The Badgers will also be without the services of backup guard Akiya Alexander, who was declared academically ineligible for the second semester.The Badgers have really relied a lot on Anderson, a preseason all-Big Ten selection, to carry the load. The sophomore has responded by leading the team in scoring eight out of the last ten games. She also has five double-doubles on the year while leading the team in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (7.1).Wisconsin will need Anderson and company to have a big day to end their current five-game skid.”Right now we’re mentally drained,” Stone said. “You have to regain some confidence and a mental edge.”A win Monday will definitely go a long way to helping the Badgers get some much-needed confidence for the stretch run of their conference season.last_img read more

first_img Comments Published on January 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Phil: | @PhilDAbb In 7.61 seconds, Jarret Eaton established himself, for now, as the most premier hurdler in Syracuse’s history. And if Flings Owusu-Agyapong could have finished the 60-meter dash just .04 seconds quicker, she would have also placed her name even deeper into the Orange’s record books.‘Jarret was exceptional, the fastest time in the country. It doesn’t get better than that,’ head coach Chris Fox said. ‘For Flings, it was a super start. She’s healthy and she’s going to run fast enough to make nationals. The sky is the limit for these two.’Owusu-Agyapong finished the 60-meter dash in 7.40 seconds at the Cornell Upstate Challenge on Saturday, narrowly missing the school record she set last season. At the same meet, Eaton’s 7.61-second performance in the 60-meter hurdle broke not only an SU record, but also set a new national record for this season.This weekend, the Orange will be competing in two locations — the Boston University Terrier Invitational and the Penn State National Invitational — where Owusu-Agyapong and Eaton will be competing, looking to build on their performances at Cornell.Though she didn’t break her record from last season, Owusu-Agyapong’s time at Cornell’s Barton Hall still secured her spot in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championship in early March. Eaton’s time, which he says didn’t top his personal best, qualified him for the Big East, IC4A and NCAA championships later this season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘It felt pretty good to get my first one out of the way,’ Eaton said. ‘I’m looking forward to get back to where I was last year, and if I can do that, things are OK.’In his first meet of the season, Eaton showed no signs of rust. Eaton’s record-breaking performance also showed his coaches that his capabilities and potential for the season are high.SU assistant coach Chris Hegland said in just one meet, he saw that both Eaton and Owusu-Agyapong were in near-perfect shape physically at the beginning of the season.‘They showed that they are in good shape right now,’ said Hegland, who works often with sprinters and hurdlers. ‘It’s a good indicator that they’re fit, and hopefully we can keep them moving forward.’In addition to their strong performances in competition, both Owusu-Agyapong and Eaton feel they have become team leaders. Fox said he can tell the younger members of the team to look up to Eaton, and for good reason, considering he’s been at SU for five years and is one of the team’s best competitors.And for Owusu-Agyapong, the support goes both ways. Though she tries to be a role model for the young runners, she’s also able to take advantage of the support they show her.‘There are a lot of young girls here that need some guidance,’ Owusu-Agyapong said. ‘I feel like I provide that leadership to get us all going as a team when we are at a meet. I’m there for them, and they are also there for me as well.’Although the season is just getting started, the team has its sights on the NCAA championships at the end of the season. Owusu-Agyapong said she hopes to clinch an automatic qualification for the nationals with her performances in the next few weeks.And Hegland said what Owusu-Agyapong and Eaton do now is only the buildup to what they could do toward the end of the year.‘The goal for both of them, just like everybody else, is to keep getting better every day and every week and keep working hard,’ said Hegland. ‘It’s all about what they can do at the end of the year. The expectation now is to keep working real hard, stay healthy and compete a lot better later in the season.’Since he’s already clinched his spot in nationals on March 9-10, much of Eaton’s focus now will be putting his role as a leader to good use and helping his teammates, who will be there with him in Nampa, Idaho.‘I expect to stay composed, keep running fast, stay healthy and continue to help my team get there as well,’ Eaton said. ‘I don’t want to be the only one going to nationals. I want my team there, too. Hopefully, we can make that happen.’pmdabbra@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more