The Nebraska women’s basketball team hosts No. 24 Michigan State at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, at Pinnacle Bank Arena. This will be Nebraska’s 10th meeting with a team ranked in the top 25 this season.
The Huskers are 11-14 overall and 6-8 in the Big Ten as they hope for a win over a top-25 team in the Spartans. Nebraska has competed in a school-record 12 games decided by two possessions or less. The Huskers haven’t fared well in the close games as they’re 3-9 in games decided by six or fewer points.
Michigan State is 17-7 overall and 7-6 in the Big Ten and reached a ranking as high as No. 15 at midseason. The Spartans have lost two of their last three games, including a 86-71 loss at No. 16 Iowa on Feb. 7, and a 79-62 loss to Wisconsin on Feb. 14.
Head coach Suzy Merchant put together an intimidating starting roster for Michigan State, as four of its five starters average double figures in scoring.
Junior guard Shay Colley leads the team in scoring with 15 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She put up impressive numbers in her last two appearances, as she had 32 points and six rebounds against Indiana on Feb. 11, and 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists against Wisconsin on Feb. 14.
Michigan State has two other guards who average double figures. Freshman guard Nia Clouden puts up 11.6 points per game, while junior guard Taryn McCutcheon scores 10.8 points per game.
The Spartans have two big presences who both stand at 6-feet-4. Senior center Jenna Allen puts up 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while sophomore forward Sidney Cooks puts together 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Allen owns more than 1,000 career points and has more than 500 career rebounds as she is contending for All-Big Ten honors. She scored a career-high 27 points against Oregon early in the season and had a double-double with 20 points and 17 rebounds against Iowa on Dec. 30.
Nebraska has received good production off the bench from its freshmen in forward Leigha Brown, forward Ashtyn Veerbeek and guard Sam Haiby.
Brown puts together 10 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, while Veerbeek scores 7.2 points and has 5.6 rebounds per game. Haiby scores 9.8 points and 3.1 rebounds a game this season.
Junior guard Hannah Whitish averages 9.8 and three rebounds per game and has increased those numbers in conference play. She obtained the first double-double of her career when she scored a season-high 28 points and a got a career-high 12 assists at Purdue on Jan. 31
Nebraska’s other guards include sophomore Taylor Kissinger and junior Nicea Eliely. Kissinger scores 8.8 points and grabs 3.5 rebounds per game this season and is one three-pointer away from the 100th of her career.
Eliely gets 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Eliely scored 18 points for Nebraska in its 89-63 loss at No. 7 Maryland on Thursday, Feb. 14.
After Sunday’s game against the Spartans, the Huskers have three remaining games before the Big Ten Tournament on March 6-10 in Indianapolis. The Huskers currently sit at 11th in the conference.