On Feb. 17, Nebraska basketball senior center Kate Cain became the 34th Husker to surpass 1,000 career points, achieved during a 22-point performance in a win against Northwestern.
During a senior season in which she’s averaging 10.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game, Cain is building a case to end her career as one of the program’s all-time greats.
Cain entered the season ranked 43rd among Nebraska’s all-time scoring leaders; her 215 points so far this year moves her into a tie for 32nd with Alexa Johnson. However, with just two regular season games remaining in her career, it’s unlikely she climbs much higher — she would need another 148 points to crack the top 20.
After her first three seasons in Lincoln, Cain ranked fifth in career field goal percentage at 54.5%. This season has only helped increase that career total as the senior is now shooting 54.8% from the field overall, though this still ranks fifth in program history. She’s shooting 56.2% from the floor so far this year, including a pair of games in which she didn’t miss a single shot — 3-for-3 against Iowa on Feb. 11 and 7-for-7 against Northwestern on Feb. 17.
While Cain has made some considerable offensive contributions, her biggest impact on the team has come defensively. She’s a two-time member of the Big Ten All-Defensive team and a three-time nominee to the preseason watchlist for the Lisa Leslie Award — an honor given annually to the best center in NCAA Women’s Division I basketball. She’s also one of 15 players to be named to the 2021 Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year watchlist.
Cain ranked No. 17 on Nebraska’s career rebounds list after only her junior season. Since snagging 133 boards so far during her senior year, she’s climbed into a tie for ninth with forward Debra Powell at 750 career rebounds.
Of the Huskers who have played since the turn of the millennia, only forward Emily Cady, forward Jordan Hooper and forward Kelsey Griffin have more career rebounds than Cain.
Despite ranking inside the top 35 in program history in points scored and inside the top 10 in career rebounds, Cain has undoubtedly made her biggest mark on the program as a shot-blocker.
Cain owns each of the top three single-season blocked shot records, with her highest being 101 blocks last season as a junior. She has another 64 blocks this season, which is by far the lowest tally of her career, though this is partly explained by the abbreviated women’s basketball season. These 64 blocks are still tied for the eighth-most in a single season in Nebraska history. Cain is averaging 3.0 blocks per game this season, slightly down from her 3.4 blocks per game last year.
If Cain can record 14 more blocks over the final two regular-season games, plus any postseason play, and reach 78, she’ll own each of the program’s four highest single-season block tallies.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Cain shattered the program’s career block records after only three seasons. She had 42 more career blocks through her first three years on campus than the next best shot-blocker, center Janet Smith, did in four seasons. Her 344 career blocks are 106 more than Smith had and sixth-most in Big Ten history.
Nine of Cain’s 50 career double-digit scoring games have come this season, as have five of her 16 double-digit rebounding performances. She also has 56 career games with at least three blocks and 20 games with at least five rejections, though she has surpassed double-digit blocks only once on Dec. 19, 2017 against Florida Atlantic. Her 11 rejections against the Owls that day are the program’s single-game record.
Cain has three double-doubles so far this season; her 15 career double-doubles are the 11th-most in school history, three behind Anna DeForge.
Additionally, Cain’s performance in the 86-69 win against Florida Atlantic in 2017 made her just the third Husker to record a triple-double. Her triple-double is arguably the most impressive feat of her career — 22 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks.
The others — Natalie Romeo against Northwestern on Feb. 28, 2016 (12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) and Lindsey Moore against Florida A&M on Feb. 2, 2011 (12 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists) — both featured double figures in points/rebounds/assists, while Cain’s triple-double was the only one to feature double figures in blocks and more than 20 points.
As Cain’s time in Lincoln draws to a close, she’s had an indelible effect on the school’s record books. Cain made her presence known on both ends of the court during her collegiate career, and her impact on Nebraska basketball will almost certainly be remembered for years to come.