Friday, June 21, 2024
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WBB-FCS: Wisc-Milwaukee Panthers (7-13) at Oakland Grizzlies (10-11)

The Milwaukee Panthers women’s basketball team heads back on the road this weekend, as the team makes its way to Rochester, Michigan to take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies beginning at 6:00 p.m CST from the O’rena. 

The game can be viewed on ESPN+; while live stats and live audio on the Black & Gold Network with Matt Menzl on the call are also be available on MKEPanthers.com.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GRIZZLIES
Oakland enters Friday’s game with a 10-11 overall record with a 5-7 mark in the Horizon League.

The Golden Grizzlies are on a three-game skid having lost to IUPUI, Purdue Fort Wayne and most recently Cleveland State. In the loss to the Vikings, Oakland was led by Brooke Quarles-Daniels, who had 14 points and eight rebounds. Breanne Beatty had eight points and five boards with a team-best four assists. As a team, Oakland shot just 26.4 percent from the field and 17.9 percent from three.

On the season, it’s Quarles-Daniels leading the way at 12.0 points per game, with Alexis Johnson second on the team at 11.0 points per contest, Beatty is third averaging 10.6 points per game. The trio of Golden Grizzlies are all amongst the team leaders in rebounds with over 5.0 per contest this season.

Oakland is being outshot this season by nearly .100 percentage points, as the Golden Grizzlies connect on 35.6 percent from the field and yield 45.4 percent per contest, currently 10th of 11 amongst Horizon League teams in both categories.

On the flip side the Golden Grizzlies are one of the top rebounding teams in the league averaging 38.7 per game, just 2.5 rebounds off league-leading Cleveland State. Oakland is also towards the top of the conference in turnover margin, currently sitting in third at a 3.52 assist/turnover ratio.

LAST TIME THEY MET
The last time these two teams met on New Year’s Eve in Milwaukee, the Panthers cruised to a 65-49 win.

Three Panthers were in double figures as Emma Wittmershaus led the way at 15 points per game, while Kendall Nead and Megan Walstad each had 14 points apiece.

MKE was hot from the field at 52.0 percent on the game and were also 54.5 percent from three, in comparison Oakland was only 25.8 percent from the field and were only able to hit on 25.0 percent from three.

SERIES HISTORY
Milwaukee is 14-9 in the 23 all-time meetings with the Golden Grizzlies including wins in back-to-back games and five of their last seven matchups. The Panthers are 5-4 all-time in Rochester.

WHATS ON TAP?
After today, the Panthers continue their two-game trip to the Greater Detroit area with a visit to Detroit Mercy on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. CST. Milwaukee will look to continue its dominance over the Titans, in search of their 12th consecutive win dating back to 2018.

LAST TIME OUT
Emma Wittmershaus had a career-high 25 points, and a career-best 11 field goals made but it was not enough as the Milwaukee Panthers fell to the IUPUI Jaguars by the score of 78-68 inside the Klotsche Center on Saturday afternoon.

While Wittmershaus led all scorers with 25, Kendall Nead had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting as she led the Panthers with three three-pointers as she crossed over the 500-point plateau in her 75th career game.

Scoring wasn’t the issue for the Panthers on Saturday, as Milwaukee scored the most points in a game since its win against Robert Morris on January 20. MKE shot 48.1 percent from the floor and 40.0 percent from three.

Defensively, the team allowed its highest total since its loss at Cleveland State on January 12, as the Jaguars scored on 49.1 percent of their shots, and 34.5 percent from three.

The Panthers and Jaguars were even at 20 after the opening quarter and Milwaukee trailed by just one at the half at 37-36. The Jaguars pulled away late in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 16-11 in the third quarter before capping off the game with a 25-21 fourth period.

After Milwaukee scored the first basket in the second half to take the one-point lead, an 11-point run by IUPUI gave the Jaguars a 48-38 lead. The Panthers responded with eight unanswered capped off by a three-pointer from Nead with 1:35 to go to make it 48-46.

IUPUI came back with a 5-1 lead down the stretch of the third quarter to take a 53-47 advantage into the fourth stanza.

Milwaukee got as close as three points on a jumper by Wittmershaus to pull the Panthers to down 59-56, but an 11-2 run by IUPUI put the game out of reach in the waning minutes before closing out the score at 78-68.

Jessi Giles tied her Panther-high with eight points, while Megan Walstad registered a career-high nine assists as she shattered her previous career-high of five.

Anna Lutz led the team with three steals and added six points while Jada Donaldson had a team-best seven rebounds and added four assists. Kamy Peppler had eight points including a pair of three-pointers.

WALSTAD’S HELPING HAND
Playing the inside-out game, Megan Walstad had a career-high nine assists in the team’s most recent contest against IUPUI. Her previous career-high was five on several occasions in her career, most recently in the team’s win at home against Detroit Mercy on December 29.

The last time a player listed on Milwaukee’s roster as a center or forward and had more than five assists in one game was Steph Kostowicz, who had a dozen in the team’s March 15, 2018 win over Northern Iowa. Kostowicz accomplished the feat six times during her senior season in 2017-18, and seven times in her career.

JADA SETTLING IN
Jada Donaldson led the Panthers on the glass on Saturday, with a team-best seven rebounds and led all players with four offensive boards against IUPUI.

Donaldson has been putting it together as she settles into her starting role for MKE and has had a season-high in rebounds (7, Jan. 28 vs. IUPUI), assists (5, Jan. 12 at Wright State), steals (3, Jan. 20 vs. Robert Morris), and field goals made (2, Jan. 20 vs. Robert Morris, Jan. 22 vs. Youngstown State) over the team’s past six games.

JESSI THE SPARK
In last Saturday’s game vs. IUPUI, Jessi Giles netted a season-high eight points, tying her high from the January 5 matchup at Northern Kentucky.

Giles could be getting hot just in time for the stretch run of the season, after setting new season-highs in field goals (3), three-point field goals (2), and rebounds (3) against the Jaguars on January 28.

SECOND HALF STRUGGLES
The Milwaukee defense has been strong this year, but recently, the Panthers have been running out of steam in the second half.

Over the last eight games, Milwaukee has given up an average of 40.2 points in the second half. Opponents are shooting 49.8 percent (109-of-219) from the floor and 44.0 percent (37-for-684) from three-point range over the final 20 minutes

In comparison, the Panthers have allowed 38.3 percent (423-of-1096) from the field overall in games this season, and 31.9 percent (122-of-383) of three-pointers overall this year.

FOLLOWING THE LEADER
Six different members of the Panther roster have led the team in scoring this season throughout the team’s 20 games thus far. Kendall Nead and Emma Wittmershaus lead the way as they have led the team in scoring on six occasions each this year, while Megan Walstad has led the team on five occasions. Angie Cera (3), Grace Crowley (1), and Anna Lutz (1) have all lead at least once this season.

FINDING THE RANGE
Milwaukee has been finding its shooting range from three-point land following the holiday break.

The Panthers had shot under 31 percent in each of its first 10 games but have turned it on since playing Detroit Mercy on December 29, having connected on at least 31 percent in seven of their last 10 contests.

Over the last nine games, Kamy Peppler is 16-for-40 (40.0 percent), while Emma Wittmershaus is also at 40.0 percent having connected on 6-of-15 from deep. Jessi Giles 8-for-18 has also come on over the stretch connecting on 8-of-17 (44.4 percent) from long range.

OFFENSIVE BOARDS TURNING INTO POINTS
The Panthers have recorded double-digit offensive rebounds in six of their last eight contests and have made the most of their chances. In that span, Milwaukee has totaled 83 second-chance points, including 19 second-chance points in the team’s win over Robert Morris on January 20, and 16 on the road at Green Bay on January 26.

COMING ALIVE IN LEAGUE PLAY
Kendall Nead has scored at least 12 points in seven of the team’s last 10 conference games including a season-high 19 points in each of the team’s games against Northern Kentucky (Jan. 5) and Robert Morris (Jan. 20).

In 12 Horizon League contests, Nead is averaging a team-high 13.3 points, which is currently seventh among all Horizon League scorers in conference competition this season. Nead is also fourth in league play in field goal percentage at 42.4 percent within the conference.

Away from her scoring prowess, Nead has an average of 4.8 rebounds in addition to 18 assists, nine steals and two blocks over 12 conference contests.

MAGIC NUMBER
In college basketball, there is no perfect recipe for a win but for Milwaukee, field goal percentage has been a pretty good baseline.

In the last seven seasons, Milwaukee is 89-26 (.774) when hitting at least 40 percent from the field. Bump that field goal percentage to 43 percent and the Panthers are 69-13 (.841).

When shooting under 40 percent since 2016-17, Milwaukee is just 25-67 (.272). The Panthers have been held under 40 percent in 12 games this year, going 1-11 in those contests.

STRONG ON THE GLASS
The Panthers owned the rebounding battle at Wright State, on January 7, 39-19 to record their best margin of the season at plus-20. It marks the highest rebounding margin since Milwaukee was plus-22 on the glass in a 58-35 win over UIC on February 19, 2021.

DEFENSE LEADING THE WAY
The Panthers’ defense continues to be a factor this season as Milwaukee ranks in the top four of the Horizon League in points allowed and field goal percentage defense.

Milwaukee is allowing just 60.9 points per game through 12 league contests and holding the opposition to 38.8 percent shooting overall. In comparison, the Panthers have connected on 41.2 percent from the field in 12 conference games.

RECORD-SETTING WIN
Defense was the story in a win over Detroit Mercy on December 29, setting multiple program bests.

The Panthers held the Titans to 29 points, the lowest for an opponent in NCAA Division I history surpassing Valparaiso’s 31 from February 25, 2012.

Detroit also converted just 17.5 percent of its field goals, the lowest field goal percentage for an opponent since MKE held Youngstown State to 19.4 percent on March 6, 2010.

The seven made field goals for Detroit were also an opponent program-low for the Panthers, four fewer than the previous mark.

SERVING UP A ‘W’
Milwaukee was finding the open player against Detroit Mercy and making it count, totaling a season-high 22 assists.

It is the most assists for the Panthers since MKE had 24 in a win over Northern Iowa on March 15, 2018. That year, MKE eclipsed 20 assists on five different occasions.

The Panthers had those 22 assists on 25 made field goals, the highest assist percentage (88.0) since dishing out 16 assists on 18 field goals (88.8) in a win over Chicago State on March 3, 2016.

ALL OF THE DOUBLE DIGITS
In the win over Detroit Mercy, Milwaukee had five players reach double figures. Grace Crowley led the way with 13 points while Kendall Nead (12), Anna Lutz (11), Kamy Peppler (10), and Emma Wittmershaus (10) all joined in double digits.

It marks the first time Milwaukee had at least five players with at least 10 points since February 8, 2020. That game, Jamie Reit’s 13 points led the way while Bre Cera added 12, McKaela Schmelzer and Sydney Staver each had 11, and Lizzie Odegard finished with 10 in a 65-60 win over Green Bay.

Milwaukee is now 3-0 this year when at least four players reach double figures. The Panthers are 17-4 over the last five years when four or more players reach at least 10 points.

MISS BASKETBALL IN THE HOUSE
Freshman Kamy Peppler was crowned 2022 Miss Basketball for Wisconsin but it’s not the first time Milwaukee has had a student-athlete with that title arrive on campus.

In fact, Megan Walstad earned that title in her home state of Minnesota after leading Eastview High School to a perfect 32-0 record as a senior.

Prior to that, just one other player in program history donned the title of Miss Basketball. Meredith Onson (2005-08) was a consensus Wisconsin Player of the year in 2002-03. Onson originally attended Boston University but transferred to Milwaukee for the 2004-05 season.

PRESEASON HONORS FOR WALSTAD
Megan Walstad was named to the Preseason All-Horizon League First Team following another impressive campaign in 2021-22. Walstad dominated down low, earning her second straight First Team All-League award last season. She led the team and was among the league’s leaders in points per game (14.4), rebounds per game (9.1), field goal percentage (48.8), free throw percentage (88.9), and blocks per game (1.5). Walstad was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second straight year.

Walstad joined a group of just three others in program history to earn All-League First Team honors on more than one occasion in the Panthers’ Division I era and is just the second in MKE history to earn All-Defensive Team distinction multiple times.

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