The schedule for the Nebraska women's basketball team has been described as a "meat grinder". With very few "gimme" games and a loaded Big Ten waiting, the Husker women have continued to impress.
All-American Rachel Theriot erupted for a season-high 31 points and Tear'a Laudermill pitched in 22 as No. 12 Nebraska rolled to an 83-57 women's basketball win over defending Big South Conference champion High Point at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, December 20.
With the victory, Nebraska closed non-conference play with a 10-1 record, with the lone loss being by 2 points, at the buzzer, to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Huskers started the season ranked #16 (AP and coach's polls) and have moved up to #12 in the AP poll and #15 in the coach's poll.
Nebraska will be off from competition for the holiday before opening Big Ten Conference play at Minnesota on Dec. 29. Tip-off between the Huskers and Gophers at Williams Arena in Minneapolis is set for 8 p.m., with television coverage by the Big Ten Network. Minnesota's season suffered a huge setback when Rachel Banham went down with a torn ACL. Banham was an honorable mention All-American and a preseason all Big Ten first team player.
Pretty impressive that @RachTheRiot of @HuskersWBB ranks 6th in the nation in free throw pct (95.6%). Amazing point guard. #huskers #wbb— Matt Coatney (@Coatman1) December 22, 2014
The break is needed as the Husker women are an injured and bruised bunch. Even in the High Point game, when the score started to get out of hand, Theriot and other starters continued to play because Connie Yori simply had no other bodies to put out on the floor. Emily Cady suffered an injury less than five minutes into the second half when she was inadvertently undercut on a rebound and landed on her back. She walked to the locker room under her own power and returned to the bench for the rest of the game, but did not play.
In the Big Ten, newcomers Maryland (9-2) and Rutgers (9-2) are the only other comparable teams according to the pollsters. Maryland sits at #9 in the coach's poll and #15 in the AP poll. Their two losses came back to back against Washington State and #4 ranked Notre Dame. Rutgers is #18 in the coach's poll and #17 in the AP poll. Their losses came to two highly ranked teams (North Carolina and Tennessee). Michigan State (#22/#20) and Iowa (#20/#23) round out the ranked Big Ten teams with Northwestern receiving votes in both polls.
On the season, the Husker women are scoring an average of 70 points per game compared to 55 for their opponents. Unsurprisingly, Rachel Theriot leads the way with 18.2 ppg. Emily Cady (13.6) and Tear'a Laudermill (12.4) are the other Husker women averaging double digits. The team is shooting at a .432 clip while holding their opponents to .343.
Emily Cady (100 rebounds), Brandi Jeffrey (73) and Hailie Sample (72) have paced Nebraska on the boards. As a team, the Huskers are averaging 41.2 rebounds per game compared to 37.2 for their opponents.
The crowds at Pinnacle Bank Arena have been good, averaging 5051, which is the third-best home attendance for a women's team in the Big Ten (Purdue and Michigan State).
Nebraska has never lost to a team from California under Coach Connie Yori. The Huskers are 20-0 against California schools, including wins over Pepperdine (100-65), at UCLA (71-66), and Bakersfield (54-45) this season.
The Big Ten is currently the No. 1 RPI conference according to the Collegiate Basketball News Women's Basketball RPI Ratings, with eight teams among the top 50: Nebraska (No. 9), Iowa (No. 11), Michigan (No. 21), Minnesota (No. 38), Maryland (No. 41), Northwestern (No. 43), Illinois (No. 47) and Ohio State (No. 50).