s-WBBIndianaPreview

Nebraska’s Jaz Shelley (1) passes the ball over Michigan defenders during the game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The month of January has already had big wins and frustrating losses for the 13-2 Nebraska women’s basketball team. Now, the Huskers will head on the road for another challenge, facing off against current Big Ten leader No. 6 Indiana.

Head coach Amy Williams’ team is coming off its second loss of the season, a 95-86 Sunday loss to Iowa. Much like its 72-69 loss to Michigan State two weeks prior, Nebraska was playing from behind for a majority of the contest and trailed by as many as 11 against the Hawkeyes. 

The 95 points the Huskers gave up against Iowa is the most on the season so far. Part of the reason for that was due to Iowa’s star sophomore guard Caitlyn Clark, who had her third 30-point game against Nebraska of her career, putting up 31. The Huskers had a season-high 83 shots from the field and 34 3-point attempts. But, Nebraska was only 39.8% from the field and 9-of-34 from 3-point range. 

Despite the losses the Huskers have suffered, they’ve still had big wins, including a 79-58 home win over then-No. 8 Michigan just over a week ago. On the season, the Huskers are still in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense, sitting at No. 8 with 82.4 points per game. Defensively, Nebraska is No. 95 nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to an average of 59.3 points per game. 

Sophomore guard Jaz Shelley continues to lead the Huskers in scoring, rebounds and assists per game. On the season, Shelley averages 13.7 points per game. Junior guard Sam Haiby is Nebraska’s second-leading scorer, averaging 11.1 points per game. Sophomore forward Izzy Bourne is third, averaging 10.1 points per game. 

Working her way into the rotation is freshman center Alexis Markowski, who now averages 9.8 points per game. The freshman is coming off her best week on the season thus far, tallying up 34 points across two games. Markowski was also named the USBWA National Freshman of the Week on Tuesday after earning her third Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honor of the season Monday. Rounding out the top five, sophomore guard Ashley Scoggin averages 9.2 points per game. 

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, have been powering through with their starting five, all of whom score in the double digits. Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes leads Indiana in scoring and rebounding at 17.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Holmes also leads the team in blocks, averaging 1.9 per game. Senior guard Grace Berger is the Hoosiers’ second-leading scorer, averaging 13.9 points per game. Berger also leads the team in assists, averaging 4.9 per game. 

Sitting third for Indiana in scoring is senior guard Ali Patberg, averaging 12.6 points per game. In fourth, senior guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary puts up 10.7 points per game. Along with that, Cardaño-Hillary leads the team in total 3-point attempts, being 23-of-56 on the season thus far and shoots at a clip of 41.1%. She also leads the team in steals, averaging 1.7 per game. 

Rounding out the top five for the Hoosiers is senior forward Aleksa Gulbe, who averages 10.4 points per game.

On the season, Indiana is 12-2 and 4-0 in the Big Ten conference. The Hoosiers’ two losses came in close battles against top-25 teams. Its first came when Indiana lost to then-No. 7 and defending national champion Stanford 69-66 in late November. The Hoosiers were in a tight bout against the Cardinal until the final five minutes of the game, in which Stanford jumped out to a 67-59 lead with two minutes left. Despite Indiana’s last comeback attempt, it couldn’t overcome the deficit in time. 

The team’s second loss came to then-No. 2 North Carolina State just a week later. In the team’s 66-58 loss, the Hoosiers were as close as 48-47 with the Wolfpack with just under four minutes left in the game. But, North Carolina State pulled away from Indiana. 

Despite the losses, the Hoosiers also played a strong nonconference slate that included a win over No. 13 Kentucky. In conference play, Indiana easily dispatched then-No. 20 Ohio State 86-66 and took down No. 6 Maryland 70-63. 

On the season, Indiana sits at No. 47 nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 56.5 points per game. Additionally, Indiana is No. 65 nationally in scoring offense, averaging 72.9 points per game.

In terms of Thursday’s matchup, this’ll be the first of two bouts between the Huskers and Hoosiers. The second showdown between Indiana and Nebraska will be on Valentine’s Day in Lincoln. The last time the Huskers and Hoosiers squared off, Indiana handled Nebraska in a 81-45 victory back in December 2020.

Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. and can be viewed on Big Ten Network or listened to on Husker Radio Network. 

sports@dailynebraskan.com