For the first time in Nebraska women’s basketball history, every player that saw time made a three-pointer. The Huskers accomplished this while shooting 41% from deep as they cruised past Omaha 100-36.
Junior guard Trinity Brady got the start in place of injured senior guard Sam Haiby in the opener. Many had speculated that spot would go to sophomore guard Maddie Krull, a South Dakota-transfer. However, head coach Amy Williams stated that could be subject to change.
“We're not squared away with anything yet,” Williams said postgame. “We are still kind of figuring everything out, and we're just gonna kind of keep working on rotations and continue to figure that out.”
Junior forward Isabelle Bourne started the scoring for the Huskers with a layup a minute into the game. Nebraska made it a point of emphasis to get the ball into the post early, as the first six points of the game came in the paint.
After that, Nebraska began slinging it from deep. Junior guard Jaz Shelley hit the first three-pointer of the game for the Huskers at the top of the key. That would be the only three-pointer of the day for last year’s scoring leader as she struggled a bit from distance, shooting 1-for-6. Fortunately, her teammates continued what she started. Two possessions later, Bourne hit a three, giving the Huskers a 12-0 lead going into the first timeout.
Bourne scored eleven points in the first quarter, driving into the lane on back-to-back possessions for layups after the timeout, flashing her agility in the lane. Nebraska hit two other three-pointers in the quarter — one came from sophomore center Alexis Markowski and the other from sophomore forward Kendall Coley. Coupled with Weidner’s eight first-quarter points, all of which came in the paint, Nebraska led 28-11 after the first.
“To be able to get out and run and set the pace early in the game, that was really important for us,” Bourne said postgame.
Nebraska continued to play an inside-out game in the second quarter, as it outscored Omaha 26-4 in the paint during the first half. Although Shelley only had 5 points in the first half, she made her impact on the defensive end. Shelley nabbed four steals in the first half along with a block, displaying her two-way ability, to help give Nebraska a 44-17 lead at halftime. The Huskers ended the half on an 11-0 run.
The Huskers took their play to another level in the third quarter, as they outscored the Mavericks 33-9 during the period. The 33-point effort in the ten-minute frame was the most ever for Nebraska in a third quarter. This was largely thanks to Shelley’s passing ability, as she racked up six assists in that period alone, setting up multiple teammates for easy looks in the paint and from deep. She finished with ten assists on the day.
“This game is fun to play with her (Shelley),” Bourne said postgame. “And the cool thing is that she will come into a game and say ‘I’m going to distribute the ball,’ then the next game she'll come in and score 20 easily, like that's the kind of awesome player she is.”
Bourne and Weidner continued their strong performances in the second half, ending the game as the top two scorers with 21 and 19 points, respectively. However, the fourth quarter was all Maddie Krull. She scored nine points in the fourth quarter to end the afternoon with 18 points, shooting 4-for-6 from deep and 7-for-9 from the field. That included hitting the final three-pointer for the Huskers to get them to the century mark.
“I just knew that I was open,” Krull said postgame. “When I looked at the scoreboard and saw it was 100, I thought, that's pretty cool.”
Nebraska outrebounded Omaha 49-29. Bourne tied for the team lead with nine boards, Markowski paired eight with her 13 points, and sophomore forward Annika Stewart added seven rebounds to her 10 points, emerging as a fifth double-digit scorer. One potentially overlooked stat line was Weidner, at 5-foot-10, grabbing nine rebounds, three of which were on the offensive end.
Williams said postgame that Nebraska needs to be a versatile team that can play whatever kind of basketball they need to. That may include players assuming roles traditionally unexpected of their position.
“The best teams that I've ever coached are the ones that if you need to grind out a 51 to 50 win, they can do that, or if it is a high flying and fast-paced inside and outside game and hitting threes, they can do that also,” Williams said. “And that's what our goal would be is to continue to have that versatility to be able to do whatever we have to do to win whatever the game calls for.”
The Huskers will be back in action in Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday at 8 p.m. against Houston Baptist.