Husker women tip-off 2021 by hosting Rutgers on Sunday

Fresh off a New Year's Eve win over No. 15 Northwestern, the Nebraska women's basketball team opens the 2021 calendar year with a Big Ten battle against traditional power Rutgers on Sunday. Tip-off between the Huskers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) and the Scarlet Knights (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten) at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 2 p.m.

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Athletics) — Fresh off a New Year’s Eve win over No. 15 Northwestern, the Nebraska women’s basketball team opens the 2021 calendar year with a Big Ten battle against traditional power Rutgers on Sunday. Tip-off between the Huskers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) and the Scarlet Knights (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten) at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 2 p.m.

A live video stream will be provided to subscribers of Big Ten Network plus, with the radio call of Husker Sports Network broadcast team Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch. The game can be heard across the Husker Sports Network stations, the Huskers App and on Huskers.com.

Sunday’s game will be the first of two meetings between Nebraska and Rutgers this season. The Huskers are scheduled to travel to the RAC in Piscataway to battle the Scarlet Knights on Feb. 7.

Nebraska improved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten with a dramatic, 65-63 buzzer-beating victory over previously unbeaten and No. 15 Northwestern on Thursday in Lincoln. Sam Haiby’s put-back of her own missed layup as time expired lifted Nebraska to the upset of the defending Big Ten regular-season co-champion Wildcats.

Haiby’s last-second shot was ESPN Sport Center’s Top Play of New Year’s Eve.

Haiby, a 5-9 junior guard from Moorhead, Minn., finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists against Northwestern. She enters the Rutgers game leading Nebraska in scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounding (7.4 rpg) and assists (3.7 apg). Haiby earned a spot on the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll (Dec. 14) after scoring a career-high 33 points to go along with nine boards and four assists in a Big Ten-opening win over Illinois (Dec. 10).

Sophomore Isabelle Bourne added her first career double-double in the win over the Wildcats, finishing with 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. A 6-2 forward/guard from Canberra, Australia, Bourne heads into the Rutgers game ranked second among the Huskers in scoring (14.6 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg) and blocks (1.3 bpg). Through four Big Ten games, Bourne’s numbers are even better at 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest.

Kate Cain, a 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., joins Haiby and Bourne as Nebraska’s tri-captains in 2020-21. A three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate, Cain notched four blocks against Northwestern to become just the sixth player in Big Ten history with 300 career blocked shots. Cain is averaging 3.0 blocks per game this season to go along with 8.0 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Ashley Scoggin has stepped into a major role in her first year as a Husker. The 22-year-old redshirt sophomore put up double figures for the second straight game with 11 points and three assists in the win over No. 15 Northwestern. She owns season highs with 16 points against both Purdue and Idaho State and is averaging 7.7 points per game while hitting 11-of-24 threes (.458).

Junior Bella Cravens also has been a major contributor as a starter in Big Ten play. The 6-3 forward from Laie, Hawaii, is averaging 6.8 points and a team-best 9.0 rebounds in conference games, including a career-high-tying 16 rebounds in the win over Illinois. She added 10 boards at Purdue.

Scouting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer brings 1,046 career wins with her into Sunday afternoon’s game against Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Stringer, who is in her 50th season overall as a head coach, leads her 26th Rutgers team with a 5-2 record this season and a 1-2 start to Big Ten play.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 90-84 loss at Iowa on New Year’s Eve in a game that matched two teams receiving the same number of votes (6, T33rd) in the most recent Associated Press Poll.

Rutgers always starts with defense, but the Scarlet Knights feature one of the nation’s elite scorers in redshirt senior Arella Guirantes. One of three Big Ten Preseason Co-Players of the Year and the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, Guirantes leads Rutgers in scoring (24.6 ppg), rebounding (7.4 rpg), assists (5.7 apg) and steals (3.0 spg) while hitting 43.6 percent (17-39) of her three-point attempts and 89.1 percent (49-55) of her free throws. She went off for 34 points in the loss at Iowa. Last season, Guirantes earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after leading the league in scoring (20.6 ppg).

The Scarlet Knights also feature another explosive scorer in true freshman Diamond Johnson. The 5-5 guard is averaging 17.6 points per game after getting 18 points off the bench at Iowa. the No. 6 overall player in the nation by ESPN coming out of high school, Johnson has scored in double figures in each of her first seven collegiate games and is averaging 20.7 points per game over the last three contests, including a career-high 23 in a win over Manhattan (Dec. 23).

Through seven games, Rutgers is averaging 85.7 points per game while allowing 57.1 points per contest, but the Scarlet Knights surrendered 91 points in a home loss to No. 14 Maryland (Dec. 14) and 90 at Iowa (Dec. 31). Prior to giving up 90 points twice in the first seven games this season, Rutgers had not allowed an opponent to reach 90 since Ohio State on Feb. 8, 2018 – a span of 71 games. The Buckeyes also got 90 against Rutgers on Jan. 10, 2016, the only times in the previous five seasons that Rutgers had surrendered 90.

While Rutgers gave up 181 combined points to Maryland and Iowa, the Scarlet Knights only allowed 219 to their other five opponents combined, holding each of their four non-conference foes to 45 points or less. Rutgers notched a Big Ten win with a 70-65 victory at Wisconsin (Dec. 11).

Senior Tekia Mack has been a difference-maker in her career for Rutgers but has been slowed by injury early this season. She is averaging 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, but had 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal while playing the full 40 minutes at Iowa. Last season in a 69-65 win over Nebraska at the RAC in Piscataway on Dec. 12, 2020, the 6-1 Mack had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals.

Mael Gilles gives Rutgers more size, athleticism and experience. The 6-1 senior forward is averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Tyia Singleton, a 6-2 redshirt sophomore forward, has contributed 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds, while junior Zipporah (Zippy) Broughton rounds out the potential starting five with 11.3 points and 4.3 assists per game.

A talented freshman class for Rutgers includes 6-4 freshman center Sakima Walker (4.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and 6-0 guard Liz Martino (3.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg). Two other freshmen, Erica Lafayette (2.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg) and Chyna Cornwell also have seen action alongside impact freshman Diamond Johnson.
Nebraska vs. Rutgers Series History
Rutgers leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 5-3, including a 69-65 win over the Huskers at the RAC in Piscataway on Jan. 12, 2020. Arella Guirantes had 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals for Rutgers, while Tekia Mack added 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals. Nebraska out-rebounded Rutgers, 42-35, but the Scarlet Knights won the turnover battle, 17-6. Both teams entered last season’s game with identical 13-2 records at 3-1 in the Big Ten.

Rutgers was also victorious in its last trip to Pinnacle Bank Arena, posting a 62-56 win over Nebraska on Jan. 13, 2019. That win stopped a two-game series winning streak for the Huskers, including a 52-42 victory over No. 25 Rutgers at the RAC (Jan. 21, 2018). Kate Cain (Middletown, N.Y.) led the Huskers with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks as a freshman.

The Huskers are 2-1 all-time against Rutgers at Pinnacle Bank Arena, and 1-3 at the RAC, dating back to the first-ever meeting between the two teams on Feb. 5, 2015. The No. 21 Scarlet Knights earned a hard-fought 46-43 victory over the No. 19 Huskers. Rutgers went 0-for-2 from three-point range in that game.

Rutgers eliminated Nebraska from the 2016 Big Ten Tournament with a 66-63 win in Indianapolis on March 3, 2016.

The largest margin of victory in the eight games in the series is 11 points (Nebraska, 65-54, Jan. 16, 2016, Lincoln). Two weeks later, Rutgers posted a 10-point win (66-56, Jan. 30, 2016, Piscataway). Five of the eight meetings have been decided by two possession (6 points) or less.

Neither Nebraska nor Rutgers has ever reached 70 points in the series and the Scarlet Knights own the narrowest of scoring margins in the series with a combined cumulative score of Rutgers 463 (57.9 ppg), Nebraska 462 (57.8 ppg).

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports