Women’s basketball looks to slow down Bradley

By Jacob Onak

Women’s basketball will have its hands full in Peoria today against a high-powered Bradley Braves attack.

The Braves (3-3) are coming off a 95-83 win against Northern Arizona in the NAU Thanksgiving Classic.

This season, Bradley has scored in the 90s three times, and in the 80s once in its six games. NIU (2-2) has yet to break the 80s and has scored in the 70s once in the four games they it has played.

The Braves’ offense is sparked by red shirt junior guard Catie O’Leary. The Janesville, Wis., native has averaged 13 points and nine rebounds a game in the six games she has started this season.

Coach Kathi Bennett said the Huskies will need to do a good job pestering the Braves’ backcourt in order to be successful.

“They are just a really talented offensive team, they are averaging in the 80s, and they beat Illinois,” Bennett said. “So we have to do a good job against their guards if they get rhythm shots, uncontested in a dribble and kick, if we don’t throw them off rhythm that’s really going to hurt us. It’s going to be a lot of containment and getting to shooters, throwing them off rhythm and then doing a decent job inside on their bigs so they don’t get prime position.”

The Huskies are coming off a tough 59-58 loss against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a game where NIU played well but came up short.

This will be a good test for the defensive-minded Huskies against a good offensive team like Bradley. Freshman forward/center Nichole Wittman, who has appeared in all four games and started three, said the team has been working a lot on defending the paint as well.

“We are working on post defense and making sure we bump the cutter so their posts don’t get easy shots inside,” Wittman said. “[They are] good shooters, big bodies, so we have to play good defense on them.”

NIU will be without starting sophomore guard Amanda Corral for today’s game against Bradley with an ankle injury she picked up in the Huskies’ last game. Players like senior guard Satavia Taylor and sophomore forward Jada Buggs will need to continue to step up offensively with the loss of Corral.

Bennett said her young squad must take care of the ball for the offense to be successful.

“I feel when we do a good job of taking care of the ball we can execute and get to the rim with our guards, spread it out, get some good high-low action,” Bennett said. “I think Bradley is a team that we can really execute against but we can’t play their pace. They want to score 80 to 90 points so I feel we really have to do a great job breaking them down and getting good looks.”