Feb. 2, 2020 marked the last time the Nebraska women’s basketball team played in front of a crowd against an opponent at home.
After a long, long wait, the Huskers returned for the 2021-22 campaign with fans back in Pinnacle Bank Arena in an exhibition win over Midland 87-42.
Although it wasn’t a full house, head coach Amy Williams and the team were still ecstatic about finally having fans back in the arena.
“It feels amazing to be back in Pinnacle Bank with our fanbase,” Williams said postgame. “It’s a pretty special feeling for all of us. There were a lot of goosebumps today and it was great to be back.”
As a team, Nebraska was 36-of-81 in field goals, earning a percentage of 44.4. The Huskers also dropped 7-of-34 in 3-point shots, 53 total rebounds, 17 steals and eight blocks.
Leading Nebraska on the night was freshman center Alexis Markowski, who dropped 15 points, nine rebounds and was 7-of-12 in field goals. Alongside Markowski, sophomore guard Jaz Shelley put up 14 points, six assists and was even 4-of-7 in 3-point shooting.
Sophomore guard Ashley Scoggin was third on the night for the Huskers, dropping 11 points and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Rounding out the squad with double-digit points was sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne, who finished the night with 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
“This game helped us show the things we wanted to do well in,” Williams said. “But it also highlighted and illustrated things we still need to work on.”
Starting things off for the Huskers, Shelley landed a 3-point shot only a minute in. Junior forward Bella Cravens then followed that up with a layup to put Nebraska up 5-0. Bourne added to the Huskers lead with her own layup. A few minutes went by before another shot was made by either team, with Midland getting on the board with a free throw.
Just before the halfway mark of the quarter, the Warriors dropped in a layup to make the score 7-3. However, freshman guard Ruby Porter replied to the layup with one of her own, pushing the lead to 9-3.
Following the media timeout, freshman forward Annika Stewart made an attempt beyond the arc which missed, but senior guard Micole Cayton rebounded it and put it back up to make Nebraska’s lead 11-3.
Midland didn’t let the Huskers get too far ahead, dropping another layup. However, Markowski delivered a shot to push the score to 13-5. Markowski nearly replicated the shot just under a minute later to give the Huskers a 10-point lead, its first double-digit lead of the game. But Markowski then fouled which led to two points for the Warriors. Bourne responded with a put-back shot to make the score 17-7, which would be the final basket of the first quarter.
Bourne picked up where she left off in the first, dropping another basket under 30 seconds into the second quarter. Scoggin then launched from the top of the key and hit nothing but net. Not even 30 seconds after that, Scoggin landed another three to give Nebraska a 25-7 lead. This seemed to be a signal for the Huskers as junior guard Sam Haiby entered the game shortly after, who missed the first quarter due to an anatomy exam.
“I had an exam that I had to take care of, but I’ll never be doing that again,” Haiby said postgame. “Coming in cold is not fun. There was like four minutes left in the first quarter and I had to warm up before getting in.”
Cravens added to the score with another basket, giving Nebraska a now 10-0 run. The run continued with another Markowski shot before Midland finally broke its second-quarter goose egg with a free throw. Markowski then followed Midland’s free throw up with back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 33-8.
Cayton then had Nebraska’s first trip to the free-throw line be successful, going 2-for-2. Following another Markowski basket, the Warriors broke into double digits with a successful basket. Midland continued adding to the scoreboard, delivering two more free throws to make it 37-13.
As the quarter entered the final minute, Nebraska added two more free throws, which was then followed by a layup from freshman guard Whitney Brown. The Warriors, however, got the final points of the half, dropping a three to make the score 41-16 heading into the locker room.
Bourne opened up the second half with a layup, which was then followed by a Shelley three, then a Scoggin three to make it 49-16 within the blink of an eye. After Midland got two more free throws, Shelley delivered another three to add to the Huskers’ monstrous lead. The Warriors reached 20 with a layup shot, which was quickly overshadowed by a Cravens layup.
Following another basket by Midland, Shelley completed a layup from outside the paint. Soon enough, the Warriors got the score to 58-25 before a media timeout was called. Cayton pushed Nebraska’s lead to 60 after landing two free throws. Midland landed another shot to make the score 60-27 before calling a timeout.
Freshman guard Allison Weidner finally got on the stat sheet with a basket, which she earned with a free throw to put the Huskers up 63-27. Freshman guard Kendall Moriarty then scored her first points of the game shortly after. Following a Markowski free throw, the Warriors called another timeout.
Weidner delivered another successful shot as the clock winded down in the third. Midland also got a shot in, landing a three-pointer to make it 68-30 as quarter number three came to an end.
Shelley opened up the final 10 minutes with another three-point basket. Bourne dropped in another basket to add to Nebraska’s fourth-quarter run. The run also contained a Scoggin layup and a Haiby layup, before the Warriors landed a three to make it 77-33. Stewart tossed in a basket following Midland’s three.
The Warriors responded by dropping another three, followed by a Midland layup. Brown replied to the five-point run with a basket of her own to put the Huskers up 81-38. Following another basket by Nebraska, the Warriors dropped another three, which was countered by a Weidner layup.
Freshman forward Kendall Coley delivered her first basket of the night, which ended up being the final one on the night for the Huskers, giving them the 87-42 win.
After the game, Williams, along with the team, approached midcourt and thanked the crowd for coming to the game. Williams then followed it up by telling the crowd to bring more fans as this season was going to be special.
“Next time come back with some friends,” Williams said to the crowd. “This will be an incredible group to watch and we promise to lay it all on the line for you guys. It’s just going to be a fun and exciting season.”
With the preseason concluded, the Huskers will begin their regular season action, starting with a high noon showdown with Maine. Tipoff is set for Nov. 9 and can be viewed on Big Ten Plus.