s-wbbgamer

Bria Stallworth (15) goes for a layup during Nebraska's game against Southern Illinois at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Nov. 11, 2017, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska women’s basketball faced off with the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars on Saturday, Nov. 11, in its season opener on Saturday. The Huskers started the season off on the right foot, as they defeated their nonconference opponent by a score of 62-53.

After a disappointing 2016-17 season and promising play in its exhibition win over Minnesota State, Mankato, last Sunday, the Huskers looked to start their season off strong.

Nebraska and SIU Edwardsville played an even, competitive first quarter, as both teams limited the other’s chances to run away with the game. Nebraska guard Bria Stallworth made the biggest impact for the Huskers in the first quarter, recording five points, one assist and one rebound in just four minutes played.

For the Cougars, Lauren White dominated both sides of the game, recording six points, three rebounds, an assist and two steals in the game’s first seven minutes. At the end of the first quarter Nebraska led the Cougars 12-11.

The second quarter should be split into two different frames of basketball. Neither team put up a single point until over four minutes into the half, but once the virtual “glass ceiling” was shattered, it turned into a high scoring affair. Stallworth and freshman center Kate Cain led Nebraska in scoring, with five and four points on the quarter, respectively. For SIUE, Nakiah Bell had an eventful quarter, scoring six point, all of them from beyond the arc. Nebraska escaped the first half with a 23-21 lead.

Neither team shot particularly well in the first half as the Huskers managed 37.5 percent from the field, and SIUE held a 27.3 percent from the field. Turnovers also impacted Nebraska, as the Huskers allowed nine turnovers in the first half alone.

The start of the third quarter was all SIUE, as the Cougars dominated on both sides of the ball. Halfway through the quarter Nebraska found themselves down by a score of 38-30, due to the combination of fouls and a rejuvenated opponent. But the Huskers put themselves back in the driver’s seat with a 13-0 run to close the quarter

Cain stole the show for the Huskers in the third quarter, playing a large role in Nebraska’s resurgence with six points and a block. Nebraska did not allow SIUE to score a single point in the final five minutes of the third and started the fourth quarter with with a 43-38 lead.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle as the two teams traded big, momentum-shifting plays. In the end, though, it was Nebraska who found a way to put together a more complete performance and walk away with the nine point win.

Nebraska benefitted heavily from the stellar performances of Stallworth and Cain. Stallworth recorded 21 points and six assists, while Cain finished the night with 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Both Cain and Stallworth spoke to the media following the game.

Stallworth, a transfer from the University of Massachusetts, said she’s thankful for the opportunity to play for Nebraska.

“To have my first game and to have it be a win, I think that was great for the team, not only just us two,” Stallworth said. “I think it’s just a blessing to be able to put this jersey on and to have the opportunity that we have here, and the fans that we have here. It was just a great experience overall.”

Cain also noted Nebraska’s strong fanbase after her first game as a Husker.

“It’s definitely different than anything I’ve ever been used to, and it was really exciting,” Cain said. “The fan base is insane and it’s always nice to get a win so it was fun.”

Nebraska women’s basketball will be back in action on Tuesday, Nov. 14, when they take on the UMKC Kangaroos at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be streamed on BTN Plus.

sports@dailynebraskan.com