Amy Williams: Huskers' growth will help them upset No. 4 Maryland
Courtesy: UNL Media Relations
Nebraska takes on No. 4 Maryland Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Here's what you need to know before the game.
- The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday to take on No. 4 Maryland in a key Big Ten battle.
- Tip off between Nebraska (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten) and the Terrapins (13-1, 2-1 Big Ten) is set for 7 p.m. (CT) in Lincoln. Live radio coverage (beginning at 6:45 p.m.) can be heard in Lincoln on B107.3 FM, in Omaha, ESPN 590 AM, and in Lexington on 880 AM KRVN, and across the state on Husker Sports Network stations. Free live audio can also be found atHuskers.com, the Huskers App and TuneIn.
- A live video stream will be provided to BTN Plus subscribers.
- The Huskers enter Tuesday’s game looking to rebound from a hard-fought 77-71 loss at No. 19 Iowa last Thursday in Iowa City. Freshman Leigha Brown led the Huskers in scoring for the second straight game by putting up a career-high 20 points off the bench for the Big Red.
- In conference games, Brown, who was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Jan. 7), owns the highest scoring average by any Big Ten freshman (16.7 ppg). The 6-1 wing from Auburn, Indiana is averaging 10.4 points per game for an extremely balanced Nebraska offense.
- However, Brown is not the top freshman scorer for the Huskers on the season. That honor belongs to Sam Haiby. The 5-9 guard from Moorhead, Minn., is averaging a team-best 10.7 points per game off the bench. She is averaging 9.7 points per game in Big Ten play to rank sixth among Big Ten freshmen in league play.
- Tuesday’s game will feature five of the Big Ten’s top-11 scoring freshmen overall on the season, including Maryland’s Taylor Mikesell (1st, 14.7 ppg) and Shakira Austin (8th, 9.0 ppg), along with Nebraska’s Sam Haiby (6th, 10.7 ppg), Leigha Brown (7th, 10.4 ppg) and Ashtyn Veerbeek (11th, 8.0 ppg). Maryland’s Austin (1st, 11.1 rpg) and Nebraska’s Veerbeek (4th, 6.5 rpg) are among the Big Ten’s top freshman rebounders and both currently lead their teams on the glass.
- Nebraska features one of the Big Ten’s most balanced lineups with eight players averaging 7.8 or more points per game and nine active players averaging double-figure minutes. Returning Nebraska starters Maddie Simon, Nicea Eliely and Hannah Whitish are all averaging 8.6 points per game.
- Maryland is led by unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection Kaila Charles, who is averaging a team-best 16.8 points per game, including 20.7 points in Big Ten play. The Terps have featured a seven-player rotation early in conference play.
- Tuesday’s game will also showcase two of the Big Ten’s most accurate and active three-point shooters in NU’s Taylor Kissinger (1st, .477, 31-65) and Maryland’s Taylor Mikesell (3rd, .413, 43-104). Mikesell leads the Big Ten in threes per game (3.0), while Kissinger ranks fourth (2.2 pg).
Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten)
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 8.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 7.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 8.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 9.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Off the Bench
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 10.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 10.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 8.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 2.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg
11(out) - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 2.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Third Season at Nebraska (35-40); 12th Season Overall (228-149)
No. 9 Maryland Terrapins (13-1, 2-1 Big Ten)
24 - Stephanie Jones - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg
1 - Shakira Austin - 6-5 - Fr. - F - 9.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg
5 - Kaila Charles - 6-1 - Jr. - G/F - 16.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg
11 - Taylor Mikesell - 5-11 - Fr. - G - 14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg
22 - Blair Watson - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 8.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Off the Bench
34 - Brianna Fraser - 6-3 - Sr. - G - 8.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg
3 - Channise Lewis - 5-8 - So. - G - 3.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
32 - Sara Vujacic - 5-11 - Jr. - G - 2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg
35 - Olivia Owens - 6-4 - Fr. - C - 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg
21 - Sarah Myers - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 1.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Head Coach: Brenda Frese (Arizona, 1993)
17th Season at Maryland (442-120); 20th Season Overall (499-150)
Scouting the No. 9 Maryland Terrapins
- Coach Brenda Frese brings her Maryland Terrapins to Lincoln ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation with a 13-1 overall record and a 2-1 Big Ten mark. Frese will take aim at her 500th career win in her 20th season as a college head coach.
- In her 17 seasons at Maryland, Frese has led the Terps to the 2006 NCAA title, three NCAA Final Four appearances and 14 NCAA Tournament bids. Last year, Maryland finished 26-8 overall and 12-4 in the Big Ten to finish second in the conference. The Terps lost in the NCAA second round.
- Maryland went a perfect 11-0 in non-conference play, including top-25 wins at South Carolina (Nov. 18) and over Georgia in Puerto Rico (Nov. 29), but after a Big Ten road-opening win at Penn State (Dec. 28), the Terps suffered a 73-65 home loss to Rutgers on New Year’s Eve.
- The Terrapins bounced back with a 75-69 win over Ohio State in College Park, Md., on Jan. 5, before traveling to Lincoln.
- Maryland’s starting five features three experienced juniors in Kaila Charles (16.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Stephanie Jones (13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Blair Watson (8.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Charles and Watson were both McDonald’s High School All-Americans in 2016 and ranked among the top-30 players in the nation. Jones was ranked No. 35 in the country by All-Star Girls Report and No. 51 by ESPN.
- Charles, who has scored in double figures in all but one game also has a pair of double-doubles this season. She is averaging 20.7 points in Big Ten play. Charles earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season after averaging 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore. The 6-1 wing out of Riverdale Baptist School in Maryland, is a Naismith and Wade Trophy candidate this season. She was a Big Ten All-Freshman choice and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament team in 2016-17.
- Watson, a 6-0 guard out of New Jersey, has produced double figures four times this season after returning from a knee injury that ended her sophomore season for Maryland after starting the first 17 games. Watson averaged 13.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals in 2017-18.
- Jones, whose sister Brionna also starred at Maryland (2014-17), is in her second season in the Terp starting five. Last season, she averaged 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds. The 6-2 forward from Havre de Grace, Md., owns a pair of double-doubles this season and has scored in double figures 11 times.
- The Terps also showcase a pair of impact freshman starters in guard Taylor Mikesell (14.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and 6-5 forward Shakira Austin (9.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg). Austin was a McDonald’s and WBCA All-American who was ranked as the No. 3 overall player in the nation coming out of high school at Riverdale Baptist - the same school as Kaila Charles. Mikesell was an honorable-mention WBCA All-American in high school and ranked as the No. 32 overall player in the country by ESPN.
- Austin is a four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week. She owns five double-doubles, including 12 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocks vs. Coppin State (Nov. 9). She had 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks at Delaware (Dec. 20). Austin ranks second in the Big Ten with 41 blocks on the year. She has averaged 3.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 16.7 minutes per game early in Big Ten play.
- Mikesell, a 5-11 guard, has proven herself as one of the Big Ten’s best shooters by knocking down 43-of-104 threes (.413) early in the season. She has added 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
- While all five Maryland starters ranked among the top 35 players in the nation coming out of their respective high school senior classes, the Terps feature even more explosive talent off the bench. Maryland’s lone senior - Brianna Fraser - came out of high school as the No. 12 player in the nation by All-Star Girls Report and No. 15 by ESPN. She is averaging 8.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in just 17.5 minutes per game off the bench. She averaged 10.2 points and 5.8 boards off the bench a year ago and has played in 113 games for the Terps with just three starts in her career.
- Channise Lewis, a 5-8 sophomore who started 32 games at point guard last year and added 10 starts ahead of Mikesell early this season, was ranked as the No. 55 player in the nation by ESPN coming out of Miami Country Day High School. She is averaging 3.1 points and a team-best 5.1 assists this season. Lewis had a double-double early this season with 10 points and 12 assists in a win over nationally ranked South Carolina.
- As a team, Maryland is averaging 77.0 points per game while allowing just 55.4 points per contest. The Terps own a plus-14.5 team rebound margin, but a minus-0.4 turnover margin. Maryland is shooting 46.4 percent from the field, including an impressive 35.6 percent from three-point range and 71.8 percent at the free throw line.
- Prior to their 73-65 loss to Rutgers (Dec. 31), the Terps owned a plus-17 rebound margin (48.8-31.8) but were out-rebounded by the Scarlet Knights, 38-28, including 19 offensive boards by Rutgers.
Nebraska vs. Maryland Series History
- Maryland leads the all-time series with Nebraska 9-0, including three wins over the Huskers in 2017-18.
- The No. 11 Terrapins defeated the Huskers 64-57 at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Feb. 4, 2018, in a battle of the Big Ten’s top two teams at the time. To that point in the series, it was the closest the Huskers had ever played the Terps. Taylor Kissinger led Nebraska with 18 points on 4-of-8 three-point shooting off the bench, while Kaila Charles led Maryland with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
- Three weeks later, Nebraska took No. 13 Maryland to the wire at the Xfinity Center in College Park before falling 77-75. The Huskers trailed by 14 points in the third quarter before rallying to take a 75-74 lead with 48 seconds left. Hannah Whitish led Nebraska with 14 points, including four three-pointers. She also got a good look at a three-pointer from the right wing to win in the closing seconds that caught back iron. Kaila Charles led Maryland with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
- One week later, No. 17 Maryland eliminated Nebraska from the Big Ten Tournament semifinals with a 66-53 win in Indianapolis. Brianna Fraser led Maryland with 18 points off the bench while Kaila Charles added 14 points and seven boards.
- Nebraska’s first meeting with Maryland came in the 2008 NCAA Tournament second round in College Park - a 76-64 Maryland win. NU is 0-7 against the Terps as Big Ten foes.