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Husker Women's Basketball Hammers Arkansas Pine Bluff 96-46

The much anticipated debut of freshman Jessica Shepard did not disappoint as both she and Natalie Romeo set school records for opening day performances.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Last fall, Nebraska signed the highest ranked recruiting class in school history. It paid off as all three were on the floor for the opening tip for Nebraska.

The first Husker points of the game were from Blackburn and then Shepard scored the next four. Romeo had been sick with flu all week so she did not start. Early on APB tried to keep the game slow and used every bit of their shot clock - in an attempt to stay in the game as long as possible. After a few early turnovers, the Huskers settled in and began feeding their talented freshman posts.

At half time The Huskers were leading 46-26. Shepard had 15 points (no Husker freshman had ever scored 20 in a season opener in school history).

In the 3rd quarter Shepard had registered 3 assists in the game (pretty amazing for a 6'4" post player). She also was right in or even leading some fast breaks. It is safe to say that Shepard + Romeo is going to be a deadly combination that will stress any defense. If the defense tries to sag into the paint, Romeo will let ‘er fly. Spread the defense out and Shepard will feast.

Natalie Romeo scored 10 points in a single minute and was the leading scorer with 27 points and 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Yes, this an overmatched non-con opponent, but Nebraska was showing something they have not for a couple years - depth. We have seen this team fade down the stretch and look exhausted by season’s end. All 12 players saw time in the game. I don’t expect that to be the case in conference play, but it is nice that Nebraska will likely have 9 or 10 they can count on through the season.

At the end of the 3rd quarter 74-33 on a buzzer beater by Darian Washington. 50 of the Husker points were from Romeo (27) and Shepard (23). Both were career highs for the sophomore and freshman. The explosions of points from these two are allowing Rachel Theriot to do what she does best - distribute the ball, run the offense, play smothering defense, and keep everyone in the right place. She can score when needed, but this team will be better because she does not have to carry them.

Right away in the 4th, Shepard pulled down her 10th rebound for double-double in her first career game.

5:28 left and Romeo was up to 30 points, playing with her dad in the audience.

Final: 96-46

Shepard set a Nebraska freshman record with 24 points and a Nebraska record in an opener of 13 rebounds. Romeo was 11 of 18 and 6 of 9 from the three-point line for 30 points - another Husker record for an opener.

The best recruiting class in Nebraska history showed up as the other freshmen, Blackburn and Simon,  also showed up in the stats (and starts as both were on the floor for the opening tip). I am not sure if Simon or Clark will be replaced in the starting lineup when Romeo recovers from the flu (yes she scored 30 while sick).

This was a great start for the Husker women and they play again within 48 hours as they face North Florida at 7:00 pm on Monday November 16.