NEB WBB: Huskers to Face Hokies in ACC/Big Ten Challenge - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

NEB WBB: Huskers to Face Hokies in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-3) at Virginia Tech Hokies (6-0)
Thursday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m. (CT)
Blacksburg, Va.
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network
Lincoln - B107.3 FM, Omaha - CD105.9 FM
Free Live Audio: Huskers.com/Huskers App
Live Video Stream: HokieVision

Huskers to Face Hokies in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
The Nebraska women’s basketball team will face its first true road opponent of the season when the Huskers journey to Blacksburg to battle Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday.

Tip-off for the first-ever meeting between the 3-3 Huskers and the 6-0 Hokies is set for 6 p.m. (CT) at Cassell Coliseum. Nebraska travels to Virginia Tech after dropping back-to-back games to Washington State and Virginia at the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas, Nov. 25-26. NU’s 73-51 loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday marked the first-ever meeting between the Big Red and Virginia.

Virginia Tech enters Thursday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge with a 6-0 record after a 67-63 win over then-No. 17 Tennessee in Blacksburg Sunday. The Hokies were ranked No. 7 by RealTimeRPI.com Monday and received 33 votes (30th) in this week’s Associated Press Top 25.

Nebraska’s game with Virginia Tech can be heard live on the Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and CD 105.9 FM in Omaha. Free live audio is available at Huskers.com and through the Huskers App. Live premium video of the game is available to HokieVision subscribers at hokiesports.com.

Thursday’s game will feature a pair of first-year coaches for the schools, as Nebraska’s Amy Williams is leading a transition in the Husker program. Kenny Brooks is heading a new direction at Virginia Tech after 14 successful years as the head coach at his alma mater James Madison. Brooks guided JMU to 337 wins and 11 consecutive postseason appearances, including six NCAA Tournament bids. Last season, the Dukes went 27-6 and made their third straight NCAA trip.

Virginia Tech went 18-14 in 2015-16, including 5-11 in the ACC, before advancing to the WNIT.

Nebraska’s game with Virginia Tech continues a challenging non-conference schedule for the Huskers. The Hokies will be NU’s second straight ACC foe, after falling to 5-1 Virginia Saturday. Thursday’s game will be the first of back-to-back games against unbeaten teams for the Big Red. The Huskers will take on 6-0 California on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The only opponent Nebraska has faced this season that owns a sub-.500 record is 2016 Mountain West champ Colorado State, which has been dealt losses at top-15 foes Washington and Oklahoma, in addition to the Rams’ three-point setback to the Huskers.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-3, 0-0 Big Ten)
32 - Jessica Shepard - 6-4 - So. - F - 17.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg
22 - Allie Havers - 6-5 - Sr. - C - 5.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
11 - Esther Ramacieri - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 3.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 6.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Off the Bench
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 6.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - So. - G - 5.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg
12 - Emily Wood - 5-5 - Jr. - G - 2.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Fr. - F/G - 1.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg
2 - Rylie Cascio Jensen - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 1.5 ppg, 0.8 rpg
50 - Darrien Washington - 6-2 - So. - F - 1.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
First Season at Nebraska (3-3); 10th Season Overall (196-112)

Virginia Tech Hokies (6-0, 0-0 ACC)
11 - Regan Magarity - 6-3 - So. - F - 10.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg
2 - Sidney Cook - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg
5 - Vanessa Panousis - 5-7 - Sr. - G - 6.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
12 - Chanette Hicks - 5-6 - So. - G - 18.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg
25 - Samantha Hill - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Off the Bench
10 - Kendyl Brooks - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 5.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg
3 - Diandra DaRosa - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 2.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg
14 - Kaela Kinder - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 2.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg
1 - Genesis Parker - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 2.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg
40 - Erinn Brooks - 5-9 - So. - F - 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Head Coach: Kenny Brooks (James Madison, 1992)
First Season at Virginia Tech (6-0); 15th Season Overall (343-122)

Scouting Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech enters the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Nebraska off to its best start in more than a decade under first-year head coach Kenny Brooks. The Hokies improved to 6-0 on the young season with a 67-63 win over then-No. 17 Tennessee on Sunday at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.

Tennessee led 31-28 at the half, but Virginia Tech sprinted to a 27-13 edge in the third quarter to take a 55-44 lead to fourth quarter before holding on for the win.

Hokie guard Chanette Hicks earned espnW National Player-of-the-Week honors after producing 24 points, five rebounds, three assists and a whopping eight steals against the Vols. That performance followed a 22-point, six-steal game in a win over the College of Charleston on Nov. 22. For the week, the 5-6 sophomore averaged 23.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 7.0 steals. For the season, Hicks leads four Hokies averaging in double figures with 18.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.7 steals per game. She is shooting 50.7 percent (38-75) from the field, including 44.4 percent (4-9) from three-point range.
The production by Hicks comes a year after averaging 8.5 points and 2.8 steals per game as a freshman starter last season.

Hicks is surrounded by 5-8 senior guard Samantha Hill (10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and 5-7 senior guard Vanessa Panousis (6.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) in an experienced Hokie backcourt. Panousis returns to the starting lineup with Hicks, while Hill played primarily off the bench a year ago. Hill has replaced Hannah Young (10.3 ppg,4.5 rpg in 2015-16) in the starting five from last season. Young was the only Hokie to start all 32 games in 2015-16.

Sidney Cook, a 6-2 senior forward, gives the Hokies more experience in the post while averaging 13.5 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds per game. Virginia Tech’s top returning scorer, Cook averaged 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds as a part-time starter for the Hokies last season.

Regan Magarity, a 6-2 sophomore forward, rounds out the starting five by averaging 10.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. She also leads the Hokies with six blocked shots. Last season, Magarity averaged 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.

Virginia Tech has overcome a lack of depth early in the season with 5-10 freshman Kaela Kinder joining the starters as the only Hokies to play in all six games. Kinder has averaged 2.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Freshman guard Kendyl Brooks has been one of Virginia Tech’s most productive contributors. The daughter of Coach Kenny Brooks, Kendyl is averaging 5.8 points while competing in four of the Hokies’ six games.

Freshman Genesis Parker has contributed 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds off the bench while playing in five contests.

Junior guard Diandra DaRosa has pitched in 2.7 points while playing three games in her first season with the Hokies after transferring from ASA College, where she averaged 14.1 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.

The only other Hokie to make an appearance is sophomore Erinn Brooks, who played just two minutes in Virginia Tech’s win over Presbyterian on Nov. 16. Brooks appeared in five games and seven total minutes last season as a freshman.

As a team, Virginia Tech is averaging 69.3 points, while holding opponents to 56.5 points per game. The Hokies are 6-0 despite carrying a minus-0.6 rebounding margin. They have made up for their lack of rebounding by notching 20 more steals than their opponents to help create a plus-5.7 team turnover margin. Virginia Tech owns a 109-59 edge in points off turnovers on the season. The 50 points account for nearly 65 percent of their 77 more combined points than their six opponents this season.

Virginia Tech outscored Tennessee, 21-12, in points off turnovers, winning the overall turnover battle 21-10 against the Volunteers. The only team this season that has outscored Virginia Tech in points off turnovers was Georgetown (11-10), but the Hoyas were whistled for 28 personal fouls resulting in a 31-8 deficit at the free throw line in Virginia Tech’s 73-63 win.

Virginia Tech is shooting 40.7 percent from the field, including 26 percent (33-127) from three-point range and 66.4 percent (89-134) from the free throw line. The Hokies have held their opposition to 37.5 percent shooting, including just 22.7 percent (25-110) success from beyond the arc.

Husker Nuggets
• Virginia Tech (6-0) will be the first of back-to-back unbeaten opponents for the Huskers this week, joining 6-0 California, which Nebraska plays Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Virginia Tech is off to a 6-0 start for the first time in more than a decade, dating back to a 6-0 start in 2005-06. That Hokie team started 12-0 before earning a trip to the 2006 NCAA Tournament at Penn State. The Hokies defeated Missouri in the first round before falling to UConn in the second round.
• California is off to its second 6-0 start in the past three seasons, joining an 8-0 start to the 2014-15 campaign. Cal also started 6-0 in 2012-13, giving the Bears three 6-0 starts in the last five years.
• Entering the week, Nebraska’s first eight opponents (including Virginia Tech and Cal) had combined for a 34-13 record. Of the 13 losses, three were to the Huskers, four were to top-20 teams and three more were to 2016 conference champions.
• Jessica Shepard leads the Huskers with averages of 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She produced her 12th career double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds in Nebraska’s win over Colorado State Nov. 17. It was her second double-double of the year, joining a 17-point, 15-rebound effort in a win over UTRGV on Nov. 12. Shepard will move into a tie for 10th on Nebraska’s career double-double list with her next double-double.
• Shepard leads Nebraska in three-point field goals made (9) and three-point field goal percentage (.500), including a game-clinching three with one minute left in the win over Colorado State on Nov. 14, and a 60-foot heave at the first-half buzzer in the win over UTRGV on Nov. 12.
• Nebraska freshman Nicea Eliely ranks second on the team in scoring (7.0 ppg), tied for third in rebounding (4.0 rpg), first in assists (3.5 apg) and first in steals (1.8 spg) through the first six games of her collegiate career.
• Freshman guard Hannah Whitish produced double digits off the bench for the second straight game with 10 points in NU’s win over Omaha on Nov. 22. Whitish is averaging 6.3 points per game and owns a 5.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Shepard Leads Big Red on B1G Stage
• Sophomore Jessica Shepard owns 12 career double-doubles, including two this season. Her most recent double-double came with 24 points and 13 rebounds in Nebraska’s 62-59 win over Colorado State on Nov. 17. She opened the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds in a win over UTRGV on Nov. 12.
• Through six games, Shepard is averaging team bests of 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She is also a team-best 9-for-18 from three-point range, including a game-clinching three with one minute left against Colorado State and a 60-footer at the first-half buzzer in the win over UTRGV. The 6-4 sophomore forward had not hit a collegiate three-pointer prior to this season.
• Shepard earned Preseason All-Big Ten honors when the conference announced its preseason awards on Oct. 24. Shepard was one of two sophomores on the coaches preseason all-conference team, joining Penn State guard Teniya Page. Shepard was the lone sophomore honored by the media on its 10-player preseason team.
• Shepard became the first freshman in Nebraska history to earn first-team all-conference honors. Shepard produced school freshman-record averages of 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 2015-16.
• Shepard became the first Husker in history to earn conference freshman-of-the-year accolades. The 6-4 forward from Fremont, Neb., joined Emily Cady (2012) and Rachel Theriot (2013) as Huskers who earned spots on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in Nebraska’s first five seasons in the conference.
• Shepard set a conference record by winning 10 Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week awards.

Nebraska Ranks Near Top in Attendance
• Nebraska closed the 2015-16 season ranked No. 9 nationally in total attendance (102,682) and No. 12 in NCAA Division I in average home attendance (5,404). It marked the third consecutive season inside Pinnacle Bank Arena that the Big Red have ranked among the top 12 nationally in both categories.
• In 56 all-time home games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Huskers own an impressive 46-10 record (.821 winning percentage) while averaging 5,736 fans per game (321,220 total fans/56 games).

• Nebraska attracted a non-conference school-record crowd of 9,750 to open its stay in the building with a win over UCLA on Nov. 8, 2013.

Big Red To Battle one of Nation’s Best Schedules
• Nebraska will likely face the toughest overall schedule in school history in 2016-17. The Huskers will play 10 games against NCAA Tournament teams and 11 more regular-season games against Postseason WNIT teams in 2016-17.
• Nebraska’s appearance in the 2016 Preseason WNIT to open the year featured three games against postseason foes, including NCAA Tournament teams Missouri and Colorado State.
• Virginia, Virginia Tech, Drake and Creighton all competed in the 2016 WNIT and the Huskers will play three of those games on the road. Nebraska closes non-conference play at home against UConn, which has won four consecutive NCAA titles.
• A total of 13 of Nebraska’s 16 Big Ten Conference games will come against postseason foes, including seven games against NCAA qualifiers and six more against WNIT teams from a year ago.
• Nebraska’s 16-game regular-season home schedule will feature 13 games against postseason teams, including all eight Big Ten Conference home games.

Nebraska Streaks
• Nebraska senior Allie Havers has competed in 102 consecutive games since the first game of her freshman season in 2013-14. The Huskers own a 68-34 record in those contests over the last four years.
• Junior Jasmine Cincore owns the longest streak of consecutive starts among the Huskers with 11. Havers has made nine straight starts, while Esther Ramacieri has started seven consecutive games dating back to the end of last season.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 257 straight regular-season games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008.
• Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 136 consecutive games.
• Jessica Shepard has hit at least one three-pointer in all six games for the Huskers this season - the only Husker to hit at least one three in every game this year.
• Nebraska has had at least two players earn first- or second-team All-Big Ten honors in each of its first five seasons in the Big Ten.
• Nebraska finished with a 9-9 Big Ten record to mark the fifth consecutive season the Huskers have posted a .500 or better Big Ten record. Nebraska is the only Big Ten team with a .500 or better record in each of the last five seasons. In fact, no other Big Ten team has had four straight .500 marks. The only other team with three straight .500 or better Big Ten seasons is Minnesota, which went 11-7 in both 2015 and 2016 after going 8-8 in 2014.

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