s-WBBPreviewIowa

Nebraska’s Alexis Markowski (40) attempts to block a shot from Michigan’s Emily Kiser (33) during the game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska women’s basketball, coming off its best win of the year against No. 8 Michigan on Tuesday, has another ranked opponent to continue the new year at home in the No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes.

The Huskers knocked off the Wolverines 79-58 with the help of a couple of key newcomers for the Huskers this season. Freshman forward Alexis Markowski and sophomore guard Jaz Shelley led the way for the Huskers, scoring 20 and 12 points, respectively. The Huskers shot the ball efficiently, going 30-of-58 from the field, 8-of-20 from the 3-point range and 11-of-16 from the line. 

This was not an uncommon performance for the Huskers, as they have been dominant this season from an offensive standpoint. Nebraska ranks No. 9 in Division I for offensive scoring with 82.1 points per game. The Huskers’ high-octane offense comes from two sparkling shooting percentages. 

The Huskers are currently No. 15 nationally in field-goal percentage at 46.9%, and they are No. 18 in 3-point percentage at 37%. In the Huskers’ only loss of the season, a 72-69 loss against Michigan State, the Huskers shot 7-of-33 from beyond the arc. If they can tap into the usually consistent 3-point shooting, the Husker offense should prove capable of beating another ranked opponent. 

Nebraska’s offense is led by Shelley, who averages 13.6 points per game and leads the team in 3-pointers made with 38. Shelley’s 3-point percentage, 46.3%, not only tops the Huskers’ list of shooters, but also ranks No. 14 nationally. Along with Shelley, junior guard Sam Haiby and sophomore center Isabelle Bourne round out the top three in points per game with 10.5 and 10.3, respectively. The Huskers currently have six players that are averaging over seven points per game, largely due to the team’s stellar depth. 

On the flip side, Nebraska dominated a high-powered Wolverine offense with suffocating pressure. The Huskers, who rank No. 11 nationally in 3-point percentage defense, held the Wolverines to zero first half 3-pointers and 1-of-12 overall from the 3-point range. 

The Huskers also outrebounded the Wolverines 42-34, but most importantly Nebraska protected the glass on defense, outrebounding Michigan’s offense 30-13. The Huskers currently rank No. 4 nationally in defensive rebounds per game with 31.4 and will need to continue that against the Hawkeyes, who rank outside the top 50 nationally in both offensive rebounds per game and rebounds per game. 

The 7-3 Hawkeyes are also coming into this game against the Huskers off of a win, beating Evansville 93-56 on Sunday. Iowa was led by sophomore guard Caitlin Clark, who scored 44 points on 18-of-26 from the field as well as 2-of-7 from the 3-point range and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Clark is No. 3 in the country in points per game, averaging 24.2 per contest, No. 10 in defensive rebounds, averaging eight per game, and No. 4 in assists per game with 6.8. 

Clark is definitely the focal point for the Hawkeyes’ success on the court, and the Huskers will need to find an answer for the West Des Moines, Iowa native. Clark aside, the Huskers have other players to worry about as well. The Hawkeyes have two other players who average double-digit points in senior forward/center Monika Czinano and guard/forward McKenna Warnock with 17.9 and 12.3, respectively. 

Defensively, the Hawkeyes rank No. 200 in opponent points per game, allowing 64 points per game. The Hawkeyes defense, which has been relatively passive this season, has been offset by the scoring of the offense so far. Iowa does rank No. 10 nationally in defensive rebounds per game at 30.6, which allows for little second chance points to the opposition. 

Nebraska has a clear assignment in trying to control three main factors in Sunday’s game: Iowa’s rebounding, 3-point shooting and Clark. Nebraska will test Iowa's whole team, but if Iowa gets its top scorers started early, it could cause trouble for the Huskers. 

Sunday's matchup between the two foes will be the first of two games against each other in a week-long span. Nebraska and Iowa meet at Carver-Hawkeye arena on Jan. 16. The last time these two teams faced off, the Hawkeyes got the best of the Huskers in a game that ended 83-75 in Iowa City, Iowa on March 6. Clark had a game-high 35 points. 

Tipoff for this showdown will be at 1:00 p.m. on Jan. 9 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The game can be viewed on Fox Sports 1 as well as listened to on Huskers Radio Network. 

sports@dailynebraskan.com