Nebraska Women's Basketball vs. Michigan Photo No. 2

Nebraska’s Jaz Shelley (1) celebrates a basket during the game against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Six days after losing to Michigan State, the team’s first loss of the season, the Nebraska women’s basketball team faced off against its toughest opponent of the season in the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines.

On Tuesday night, at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Huskers upset Michigan handily in a 79-58 victory for their first first top-10 win since 2014.

“Really excited for our team and fan base to be able to experience that here tonight,” Nebraska women’s basketball head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “Really proud, thought our kids really stuck to our game plan and just grinded out a good, tough win.” 

The Huskers, in the best win of the season so far, were carried by two dominant performances from first-year Huskers in freshman forward Alexis Markowski and sophomore guard Jaz Shelley.

Tuesday night marked Markowski’s first start of the season as junior forward Bella Cravens was scratched from the game because of an ankle injury. The Lincoln native led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds, one block and two steals in her 27 minutes on the court. Markowski’s 20 points were a career high as she went 7-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-1 from 3-point range as well as 5-of-8 from the free throw line. 

The Oregon transfer, Shelley, was another key contributor to the Huskers' statement win as she collected her fourth double-double of the season. Shelley ended the game with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in 32 minutes played. Rounding out the double digit scorers for the Huskers were sophomore center Isabelle Bourne and junior guard Sam Haiby with 11 and 10 points, respectively. 

As a whole Nebraska shot 30-of-58 from the field, 8-of-20 from 3-point range and 11-of-16 from the free-throw line. The Huskers outrebounded the Wolverines 42-34, as well as ending the game with 14 assists, four blocks and 11 steals. 

“After a tough loss like Michigan State we wanted to come back and fight and scratch,” Bourne said postgame. “I felt that every second that game we did that and it started from the start, that was really important for us.” 

From the opening tip-off, the Huskers made a statement and got out to a fast start Within the first minute-and-a-half the Huskers took a 4-0 lead and didn’t look back, as they led for all but one minute of the game. Perhaps fittingly, Markowski and Haiby opened the scoring.. 

The Wolverines got on the board two minutes in the game with a layup from senior forward Naz Hillmon. The Huskers quickly responded with two layups from Bourne and Haiby to expand their lead to six. 

The Huskers closed out the first quarter of a 7-0 run that was capped off by a 3-pointer from Shelley with 34 seconds left to give them a 19-8 lead following the opening 10 minutes.The Huskers in the first quarter shot 9-of-14 from the field, setting the tone for an impressive offensive performance. 

Nebraska built a second-quarter advantage as great as 23-8 before the Wolverines responded. The two teams traded points back-and-forth as the Huskers only outscored the Wolverines 15-13 for the quarter. Shelley and sophomore guard Ashley Scoggin’s outside shooting helped pace Nebraska into the locker room.

The Huskers held a strong 34-21 lead going into halftime, with 19 of their 34 points coming off turnovers. The two teams rely heavily on their 3-point shot but the Huskers, with their top defense, held the Wolverines to 0-of-4 from beyond the arch in the first half. 

Nebraska halted Michigan offensively because it limited Hillmon, who scored 35 points and grabbed 22 rebounds when the Huskers and Wolverines met in the 2020-21 season.

“We really wanted to mix it up as much as we could,” Williams said. “Not just Naz, but the bigger thing was their whole team. It really hurt us when we got outrebounded at Michigan State the other day and we spent a lot of time watching all of those rebounds we gave up on film. But more importantly, talking about the things we really needed to do to correct that issue and our kids collectively did a good job of doing that.”

The Wolverines started out the second half with a layup from Kiser, who led the way for Michigan with 13 points, followed by a layup from Nebraska transfer senior guard Leigha Brown. The Huskers responded with a layup from Markowski to bring them back up by double digits. 

“What I have seen out of Alexis, and one thing I know since I have had the pleasure of coaching her is that she is a competitor,” Williams said. “She just wants to compete and she's gonna get after it and I thought she showed that here today and that she took advantage of an incredible opportunity.

Markowski would go on to score 13 points for the Huskers in the third, with the Wolverines only scoring 20. She ended the quarter 4-of-5 from the field, 1-of-1 from 3-point range as well as 4-of-6 from the line. 

Following Markowski’s 12th and 13th points of the quarter, the Wolverines would go on a 6-0 scoring run to give them momentum going into the final 10 minutes of the game. 

Just as the game had been going for the past three quarters, the fourth consisted of Michigan baskets and Nebraska retorts. Hillmon added another basket, but Markowski added a layup of her own as well as one from the line to then bring the game to 59-44. 

Then, Shelley launched the dagger. Up 63-52 with just under four minutes remaining, Shelley caught the ball on the top of the key with her heels touching the half-court logo. She squared herself up and heaved a 3-point attempt that found nylon. From there, Nebraska was able to cruise.

Two other Husker sharpshooters slammed the door shut on the game with two 3-pointers from Scoggin and, with 11 seconds left in the game, freshman forward/guard Kendall Coley. Following Coley’s 3-pointer, the Wolverines chucked up one last shot, but were not successful. The final buzzer rang, giving the Huskers the 79-58 victory. 

“We were definitely a little upset about our Michigan State game and now we have the momentum running,” Shelley said postgame. “[We] Play Iowa another huge matchup and I know we really want that win too.” 

Nebraska, coming off the meaningful win, now will turn around for another ranked opponent in No. 22 Iowa on Sunday Jan. 9. Tipoff for the matchup will be at 1:00 p.m. at home and can be viewed on Fox Sports 1 as well as listened to on Huskers Radio Network. 

sports@dailynebraskan.com