Sometimes a game can be determined on one single play. Most of the time, it comes later in the game if the score is close. Other times it comes early on when the game gets out of hand.
For sophomore guard Jaz Shelley, it was the latter when she capped off a dominant first quarter performance against Wisconsin with a half court buzzer beater to put Nebraska up 24-10.
The Huskers never let up on the Badgers following the basket, as they went on to claim victory, 82-54.
Shelley was virtually unstoppable in the win, finishing with 31 points, going a career-high 12-of-19 from the field and 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. The rest of the team followed up on Shelley’s performance, combining to go 30-of-60 from the field and 13-of-28 from 3-point range. This is the third game in the last two weeks in which Shelley has scored 29 points or more while landing six or more 3-pointers.
“I’m just playing with more confidence,” Shelley said postgame. “I think the team needs my aggressiveness. They feed off that. We got more confident as the game went on.”
The win comes in a good for the Huskers as they played without junior forward Isabelle Bourne, who was out due to injury. Sophomore forward Annika Stewart started in the game in her stead and helped her team hold Wisconsin to 20-of-56 from the field and 8-of-24 from 3-point range. Stewart also finished with 10 points, going 4-of-5 from the field and making her only 3-point attempt.
“She did a great job,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “She was just battling and fighting. She forced turnovers which led to points, and that’s the kind of effort we need.”
The teams appeared evenly-matched at the onset, trading multiple baskets throughout the first two minutes of play. But neither side scored for the next couple of minutes, keeping the score at 5-5. The two teams traded multiple baskets once again with Wisconsin getting the edge, going up 10-9 before the media timeout. Nebraska took advantage of the timeout as it quickly began a massive run. A layup by Stewart got the Huskers back in front. Nebraska delivered two more layups, along with a free throw by sophomore forward Kendall Coley, to go up 16-10.
But Shelley took over with a run of her own in the final three minutes of the quarter, scoring eight straight points. She put an exclamation mark on the run with the aforementioned half court buzzer beater.
“It was kind of a heat check,” Shelley said. “I was feeling it, so I threw it up. It was pretty cool.”
Wisconsin tried to chip back into the game in the second quarter. The Badgers managed to cut the deficit to 31-23 with under three minutes left in the half. But Nebraska once again shut down Wisconsin’s attempt to make it a game. Sophomore guards Allison Weidner and Kendall Moriarty put together a swift 8-0 run to end the half, giving the Huskers a 39-23 lead.
Nebraska came out of the locker room in dominant fashion for the third quarter. Sophomore center Alexis Markowski and Weidner both scored within the first minute, and Stewart landed a 3-pointer a minute later. But it was Shelley who took control of the quarter yet again, sinking back-to-back 3-pointers shortly after. In the span of three minutes, Nebraska outscored the Badgers 13-5. Wisconsin senior guard Avery LaBarbera continued to battle, however, producing her own 8-0 run, trying to pick her team up.
She and freshman forward Serah Williams led the Badgers in scoring for the game. LaBarbera scored 17 points, going 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and Williams finished with 18 points, going 8-of-15 from the field.
But the Badgers’ deficit was too great to overcome. The Huskers led 62-44 to start the fourth quarter, and the lead grew to the final score, 82-54. Nebraska is now 7-3 on the season and 2-0 in conference play, something Williams is happy to see.
“It feels great,” Williams said. “We wanted to be 2-0 heading into the last few non-conference games and winter break, it feels great to be in this position.”
The Huskers will return to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday to host Samford.