Husker women set to battle Wisconsin on Thursday

Nebraska takes aim at its second Big Ten win of the week and seventh conference win of the year after fighting its way to a 57-53 victory at Illinois Monday night.
Whitney Brown

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN/Nebraska Athletics) — The Nebraska women’s basketball team shoots for a Big Ten home win on Thursday night, when the Huskers clash with Wisconsin. Tip-off between the Big Red (8-5, 6-4 Big Ten) and the Badgers (3-10, 0-10 Big Ten) is set for 7 p.m. (CT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Live video will provided to subscribers of Big Ten Network Plus with the Husker Sports Network call of Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch describing the action on both the video and across the radio network stations, the Huskers App and on Huskers.com.

Nebraska takes aim at its second Big Ten win of the week and seventh conference win of the year after fighting its way to a 57-53 victory at Illinois Monday night. Husker junior guard Sam Haiby continued her strong push for All-Big Ten honors by scoring 12 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. Haiby’s heroics included a steal in the closing seconds with the Huskers clinging to a 55-53 lead. She sank two free throws with 5.7 seconds left to give NU its second straight road win.

Haiby, a 5-9 guard from Moorhead, Minn., leads Nebraska in scoring (17.3 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg), assists (4.2 apg) and steals (1.2 spg). She earned her fourth appearance on the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll (Jan. 25) and has put up back-to-back double-doubles in her last two games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, including 25 points and 12 rebounds against Minnesota (Jan. 19).

Ruby Porter, a 5-10 freshman from Adelaide, Australia, added a career-high 11 points and tied a career best with three three-pointers at Illinois. She made her third straight start in place of injured sophomore Isabelle Bourne (Canberra, Australia). Bourne was Nebraska’s second-leading scorer (14.0 ppg) and rebounder (7.3 ppg) until suffering an ankle injury in the closing seconds of Nebraska’s win at No. 23 Michigan State (Jan. 10).

Freshman Annika Stewart pumped in 12 points at Illinois including a career-high three threes. The 6-3 forward from Minneapolis, Minn., hit back-to-back threes in a one-minute span midway through the fourth quarter to shoot Nebraska to the lead for good against the Illini.

Kate Cain joined the list for another national award on Jan. 26 when she was included among 15 players on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watch List. Cain, a 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., leads the Big Ten with 3.1 blocks per game. She ranks sixth in Big Ten history with a Nebraska record 320 career blocks, including a Big Ten-best and school-record 101 blocks last season. A three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate, Cain nearly produced a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks in NU’s upset of No. 15 Ohio State (Jan. 16). A two-time Big Ten All-Defensive pick (2018, 2020), Cain ranks No. 2 among active NCAA Division I players in career blocks.

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Scouting The Wisconsin Badgers
Head coach Jonathan Tsipis brings his fifth Wisconsin team into Thursday’s game after a 94-62 loss to Michigan State on Sunday. It followed a 56-55 last-second loss at Purdue last Thursday. The Badgers slipped to 3-10 overall and 0-10 in the Big Ten.

Last season, Wisconsin finished with a 12-19 overall record that included a 3-15 Big Ten mark. The Badgers have not had a winning season in women’s basketball since 2010-11 (18-15).

Junior Imani Lewis provides a strong presence inside for the Badgers. The 6-1 forward is averaging 13.1 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds per game. Lewis was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten choice as a sophomore. Last season, Lewis notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in a 65-50 loss in Lincoln, before getting 21 points and six boards in a 72-71 loss in Madison.

Sydney Hilliard, who made an immediate impact as a freshman, has taken over the role as Wisconsin’s leading scorer. The 5-11 guard is averaging 17.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and a team-leading 4.8 assists. Hilliard is shooting better than 50 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent (5-11) from three-point range.

Fellow sophomore Julie Pospisilova has joined the starting lineup this season and is averaging 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds. The 6-0 guard leads the Badgers from long range, knocking down 24-of-54 three-point attempts (.444). She also ranks second on the squad with 3.4 assists per game while leading Wisconsin in both blocks (17) and steals (20).

A third sophomore, Sara Stapleton, provides size inside. The 6-3 forward/center is averaging 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds. Stapleton has started all 13 contests but is averaging just 17.8 minutes per game while leading Wisconsin with 38 personal fouls.

Senior Estella Moschkau, a Stanford transfer, rounds out a starting five that has been consistent for all 13 games for Wisconsin. Moschkau is averaging 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds, but is shooting just 30.5 percent from the field and 23.2 percent (13-56) from three-point range. However, she has hit 94.4 percent (17-18) of her free throws.

Redshirt junior Alex Luehring (3.4 ppg) offers experience off the bench, while sophomore Tara Stauffacher (2.9 ppg) is also a proven performer. True freshmen Halle Douglass (3.1 ppg), Kate Thompson (3.0 ppg) and Brooke Schramek (2.8 ppg) also have been regular contributors this season.

As a team, Wisconsin is averaging 65.2 points per game while shooting 41.5 percent from the field, including 32.2 percent from three-point range. The Badgers have been solid at the free throw line (.728). Wisconsin carries a minus-2.9 rebounding margin and a minus-5.5 team turnover margin, which ranks last in the Big Ten. Those disparities have allowed the opposition to attempt 120 more field goals, including 102 more three-pointers than the Badgers.

On defense, the Badgers have struggled to hold teams in check consistently, allowing 76.5 points per game. Opponents have hit 34 more three-pointers and 19 more free throws than the Badgers.

Nebraska vs. Wisconsin Series History
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Wisconsin, 11-7, including a season sweep of the Badgers in 2019-20. The Huskers rolled to a 65-50 win at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Jan. 9) before escaping from Madison with a 72-71 win (Jan. 25) in 2020.

In 2018-19, the Badgers defeated Nebraska, 70-69, on a Kelly Karlis buzzer-beating three-pointer in the corner in Madison (Jan. 27, 2019).

The Huskers are 11-2 against the Badgers as Big Ten Conference opponents, including 6-0 in Lincoln and 4-0 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska is 5-2 against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. Nebraska’s first three wins at the Kohl Center were by a combined nine points, including a 71-70 OT win on Feb. 5, 2014, a 55-53 win on Feb. 28, 2013, and a 75-69 win on Jan. 12, 2012 – the first meeting between the schools as Big Ten foes.

Wisconsin won the first five meetings between the two schools as non-conference opponents, including a pair of overtime victories at the Devaney Center in Lincoln and three wins in Madison. All five of the non-conference meetings between the schools were decided by 10 or fewer points.

Thirteen of 18 meetings in the series have been decided by 10 or fewer points, including three overtime games.

Cain Candidate for Naismith Defensive Honor 
Nebraska center Kate Cain was one of just 15 women’s basketball players across the country to be named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watch List when it was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 26 by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Cain, a 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., is a three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate who is a two-time Big Ten All-Defensive selection. Nebraska’s school record holder with 320 blocked shots, Cain’s massive block total ranks No. 6 in Big Ten history. She also ranks No. 2 nationally in career blocks among active NCAA Division I players.

Cain joins Big Ten guards Veronica Burton (Northwestern) and Arella Guirantes (Rutgers) on the 15-player watch list. Cain and Burton were on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team in 2020.

Huskers Set Valentine’s Date with Terps on FS1 
The Nebraska women’s basketball team’s game with Maryland at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday, Feb. 14 will tip at 4 p.m. (CT) with live national television coverage by FS1.

The Valentine’s Day showdown between Nebraska (8-5, 6-4 Big Ten) and the No. 7 Terrapins (11-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will mark the Huskers’ ninth televised game of the season, including their first of the year on FS1.

NU has made seven Big Ten Network appearances, including its 57-53 win at Illinois Monday.

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports