Husker women set to host No. 24 Minnesota Saturday

From: Nebraska Athletics

The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns home looking to rebound from its first Big Ten loss of the season when the Huskers take on No. 24 Minnesota in Lincoln on Saturday. Tip-off between the Huskers (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) and the Golden Gophers (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) is set for 5 p.m. (CT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena with tickets on sale now at Huskers.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Pinnacle Bank Arena Box Office beginning 90 minutes before tip-off.

Live television coverage will be provided by the Big Ten Network with Larry Punteney and Brenda VanLengen on the call.

Live radio coverage for Saturday’s game can be heard on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and ESPN 590 AM in Omaha beginning at 4:45 p.m. (CT). Stations across the state will also carry the broadcast on the Learfield IMG College Husker Sports Network. Free live audio can be found at Huskers.com, the Huskers App and TuneIn.

Nebraska opened Big Ten play with a solid 78-69 win over defending Big Ten Tournament champion and NCAA Elite Eight qualifier Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 28, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. Junior Kate Cain led the Big Red with her first double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Cain added her second straight double-double with 10 points and a season-high 14 rebounds to go with four blocks in 78-70 overtime loss at Michigan State (Dec. 31).

Cain, a Lisa Leslie Award candidate, is averaging 13.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks to open Big Ten play, increasing her season averages to 10.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Cain moved into second place on Nebraska’s career block list (217) at Michigan State.

Despite Cain setting a season high with 14 rebounds, the Huskers were outrebounded 53-35 at Michigan State. NU was minus-16 on the glass in the second half of regulation, allowing the Spartans to rally from a six-point halftime deficit.

Sophomore Sam Haiby led four Huskers in double figures with 19 points at Michigan State, including 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the first half. Haiby leads Nebraska’s starters in scoring at 11.3 points per game, including a team-best 14.5 points per game in Big Ten play.

Sophomore Leigha Brown added 10 points at Michigan State and is Nebraska’s leading scorer on the season with 14.0 points per game. Brown is the highest scoring non-starter in the Big Ten and a leading candidate for Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year.

Senior Nicea Eliely had 14 points at Michigan State and is averaging 13.0 points in Big Ten play.

Scouting The Minnesota Golden Gophers
• Head coach Lindsay Whalen brings her second Minnesota team to Lincoln ranked in the top 25 for the second straight year. Last season, the No. 23/25 Golden Gophers suffered a 63-57 loss at the hands of the Huskers at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Jan. 20, 2019) in the only meeting between the schools.
• The Gophers come to Lincoln with identical records to Nebraska at 11-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten, after dropping a 66-63 decision to Ohio State at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on New Year’s Eve. Minnesota hit just 33.3 percent (13-39) of its two-point field goal attempts in the loss to the Buckeyes.
• Junior guard Destiny Pitts led Minnesota with 26 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting while adding seven rebounds. Pitts ranks among Big Ten leaders with 17.1 points per game and has hit a blistering 46.7 percent (42-90) of her three-point shots this season. She also leads Minnesota with 3.5 assists per game. She is averaging 23.5 points and 6.0 rebounds through two Big Ten games while going 8-for-15 from three-point range. Pitts was a first-team preseason All-Big Ten choice this year after earning second-team All-Big Ten honors a year ago (16.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg). She was the 2018 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Pitts managed 10 points but attempted just six shots last season in Lincoln.
• Pitts leads the Big Ten in threes made (42) and free throw percentage (.846).
• Senior Taiye Bello is the focus inside for Minnesota. The athletic 6-2 forward is averaging a double-double with 12.8 points and 10.4 rebounds, including 10.0 points and 12.0 boards in Big Ten play. Bello also ranks among Big Ten leaders with 30 blocks. She was honorable-mention All-Big Ten last year (9.7 ppg, 11.9 rpg). Last season, Bello had seven points and 13 rebounds in Lincoln. 
• Bello leads the Big Ten in double-doubles (7), total rebounds (135), rebounds per game (10.4) and offensive rebounds per game (4.5).
• Junior Gadiva Hubbard returns to the Minnesota lineup this year after missing 2018-19 with an injury. Hubbard is averaging 11.8 points and a team-leading 2.0 steals per contest. The 5-9 guard gives the Gophers another dangerous long-range threat, connecting on 40.6 percent (28-69) of her threes. In 2017-18 in Nebraska’s 79-74 win at Minnesota, Hubbard had 15 points and knocked down a trio of threes while adding eight assists. In two Big Ten games this season, Hubbard has been held to 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds and has hit just 3-of-15 shots, including 2-of-8 threes.
• Freshman Sara Scalia has made major contributions early in her career. The 5-10 guard is averaging 10.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 45.1 percent (23-51) from three-point range and 86.7 percent (13-15) from the free throw line. In two Big Ten starts, Scalia is averaging 14.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while hitting 6-of-9 three-pointers.
• Senior guard Jasmine Brunson rounds out the Minnesota starting five by averaging 8.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals. Brunson is just 4-of-15 from long range and has not attempted a three in two Big Ten games. She has 12 points in three career games against Nebraska.
• Whalen has kept Minnesota in a tight eight-player rotation in the first two Big Ten games with only freshman Jasmine Powell, senior Kehinde Bello and junior Masha Adashchyk seeing action off the bench. 
• Powell, a 5-6 guard is averaging 9.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals on the season. She is averaging 5.0 points while going 3-for-13 in two Big Ten games.
• Bello, a 6-2 forward and twin sister of Gopher starter Taiye Bello, has managed 1.6 points and 2.1 rebounds on the year. 
• Adashchyk, a 5-11 guard, has played in nine games on the season and is averaging 3.6 points and 1.4 rebounds. She is 4-for-9 from long range but 0-for-2 to start Big Ten play.
• Minnesota opened Big Ten play with an 81-74 win at Penn State. The Gophers led the Lady Lions 54-21 at the half, before getting outscored 53-27 in the second half. Pitts and Scalia combined for 43 points on 8-of-12 three-point shooting at Penn State.
• For the season, Minnesota is shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 40.2 percent (109-271) from three-point range while averaging 8.4 made threes per game. Minnesota is the Big Ten’s best free throw shooting team (.767). The Gophers own a plus-5.6 turnover margin on the season, but are minus-3.0 in turnover margin through two Big Ten games. In two Big Ten games, opponents have hit just 7-of-41 threes (.171) against Minnesota.

Nebraska vs. Minnesota Series History
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Minnesota 13-9, including a 63-57 Husker win in Lincoln (Jan. 20, 2019) in the lone meeting between the two schools last season. 
• Minnesotan Sam Haiby led Nebraska with 16 points, while Hannah Whitish added 12 points for the Huskers, who outscored the Gophers 25-11 in the fourth quarter last season. Haiby, Whitish and Kissinger combined for all 25 of Nebraska’s points in the quarter, as the Huskers overcame a 46-38  deficit at the end of three quarters. 
• Nebraska and Minnesota have met just once in each of the last four seasons, with the Huskers winning the last two meetings including a 79-74 victory in Minneapolis on Dec. 31, 2017. 
• Minnesota’s last win was a 79-69 overtime victory on Feb. 4, 2017 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Taiye Bello and Jasmine Brunson both started for the Gophers in that game, while Hannah Whitish and Nicea Eliely were both starters for the Huskers.
• Nebraska owns an 8-4 edge as Big Ten foes.
• Nebraska is 10-3 all-time against Minnesota in Lincoln.The Huskers are 2-6 against Minnesota in Minneapolis and 1-0 against the Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament (March 7, 2014).
• Although women’s basketball was not a full varsity sport at Nebraska until 1975-76, a women’s team from Nebraska suffered its first defeat at Minnesota in 1904 after going unbeaten between 1897 and 1903. Two weeks after the first meeting with Minnesota, Nebraska beat the same team in Lincoln.
• Minnesota’s Laura Coenen scored 42 points for the Gophers in a 90-79 win over the Huskers on Nov. 30, 1984. That effort is tied for the most points by any opponent in a game against the Huskers.

Nebraska Streaks
 • Kate Cain owns Nebraska’s longest streak of consecutive starts (74).
 • Nicea Eliely owns Nebraska’s second-longest streak of starts (69).
 • Kate Cain has recorded at least one block in all 13 games this season, and has blocked a shot in 15 straight games dating back to last season.
 • As a team, Nebraska has blocked at least one shot in 82 consecutive games.
 • Kate Cain has produced double-figure points in five consecutive games, the longest active double-digit scoring streak among the Huskers. Cain has produced double figures in seven of the last eight games.
 • Kate Cain has produced a double-double in back-to-back games.
 • Kate Cain, Nicea Eliely and Leigha Brown are the only Huskers to score points in each of Nebraska’s first 13 games this season.
 • Kate Cain, Nicea Eliely and Isabelle Bourne are the only Huskers to record at least one rebound for the Huskers in all 13 games this season.
 • Eliely was the only Husker to score in all 30 games last season, and the only Husker to score in all of Nebraska’s games against Big Ten Conference foes. She has scored in 47 consecutive games overall. She did not score in a win over Penn State on Feb. 22, 2018, the only time in the past three seasons (including 2019-20, 71 games) that Eliely was shut out.
  • The Huskers have knocked down at least one three in 355 straight games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 234 consecutive games.

Numbers to Watch 
(3) Nicea Eliely needs three rebounds to reach 400 in her career. When she achieves that milestone she will become just the 12th player in Nebraska history to reach the combined career milestones of 800 points, 400 rebounds and 200 assists.
(3) Kristian Hudson needs three assists to reach 400 in her career (383 at FIU).
(5) Kate Cain needs five rebounds to reach 500 in her career.
(7) Kristian Hudson needs seven rebounds to reach 400 in her career (372 at FIU).
(21) Kate Cain needs 21 points to reach 700 in her career.
(29) Leigha Brown is 29 points away from 500 in her career.
(99) Nicea Eliely is expected to make her team-leading 99th career start on Saturday.

Husker Nuggets
• Nebraska’s 11-2 start is its best 13-game start under Coach Amy Williams and NU’s best start since also opening 11-2 in in the Big Ten in 2013-14. The Huskers opened 15-1, including 3-0 in the Big Ten during a 16-game conference season in 2011-12.
• Entering games Jan. 2, Nebraska and Minnesota were two of just 29 teams nationally (6 Big Ten) with 11 or more wins. Only nine unbeatens remain among the 344 NCAA Division I  teams.
• Nebraska is No. 50 in the Massey Ratings (Jan. 2). Other Big Ten teams in the top 40 included: Indiana (9), Northwestern (15), Maryland (20), Rutgers (27), Purdue (29), Minnesota (31), Iowa (33), Michigan (39), Ohio State (42) and Michigan State (49).
• Through 13 games, Nebraska is allowing an average of 61.5 points per game (including 59.4 ppg in regulation), after allowing 70.1 points per game last season. NU’s 2018 NCAA Tournament team allowed 63.6.
• Opponents are shooting 34.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point range against NU. Last year, Husker foes hit 41.1 percent, including 33.4 percent from three. In 2017-18, Nebraska led the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (.371) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.299).
• Nebraska has held seven opponents to 55 points or less this season. Last year, NU held only two foes (Radford-39, Kansas-52) to 55 or less. NU held 11 opponents to 55 or less in 2017-18.
• NU’s bench had outscored opponent reserves in the first 12 games in 2019-20, before being outscored 30-15 at Michigan State. The Husker bench has outscored opposing benches in 40 of the last 43 games overall, including double-digit edges in 30 of the last 43 games.
• This season, NU’s bench has outscored opposing benches 355-196 (27.3-15.1 ppg).

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports