#3 Nebraska Cornhuskers vs #2 Maryland Terrapins
Saturday, March 3rd 2018, at 7:30 p.m. central
Big Ten Tournament semifinals
TV: Big Ten Network
Two years ago, when Connie Yori resigned as the Husker women's basketball coach, I was a proponent of Nebraska using some of their Big Ten money and trying to lure a proven major conference coach or an assistant from an elite program.
When Amy Williams' name surfaced as a candidate, it seemed obvious she would be the choice. I really liked the hire. The only concern I had at the time was whether bringing all of her assistants was the right move. I think we can safely say that it was.
The turnaround in this Husker team from last season has been nothing short of spectacular. It's not surprising that Williams was named the Big Ten coach of the year and is a candidate for some major national awards too.
Nebraska has never beaten Maryland in women's basketball. The closest the Huskers came was in the final regular-season game when they put together a run at the end of the 4th quarter, but still came away with a two-point loss. These two teams have met a total of 8 times, seven as conference opponents and one previous to that in the NCAA tournament.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (21-9, 11-5 Big Ten)
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - Fr. - C - 10.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - So. - G - 12.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - So. - G - 8.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Sr. - F - 6.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg
No. 13 Maryland Terrapins (24-6, 12-4 Big Ten)
24 - Stephanie Jones - 6-2 - So. - F - 11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg
3 - Channise Lewis - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 5.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg
5 - Kaila Charles - 6-1 - So. - G - 18.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg
12 - Kristen Confroy - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 10.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg
10 - Eleanna Christinaki - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 12.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg
The the Terrapins are looking to regain momentum after a rough ending to the regular season. The Terps were comfortably in the lead for the regular season conference title until losing three of their final four games. The one win? Yes, it was against the Huskers. Ohio State ended up winning the conference (regular season) and getting the number one seed in the tournament.
If the Huskers can repeat their lockdown defense of last night, they have a good shot at taking down Maryland. One big key will be, repeat after me, keeping Kate Cain out of foul trouble. If Cain does need to go to the bench, let's hope to see a repeat performance from 6' 3" sophomore post Rachel Blackburn. Blackburn played a season-high 17 minutes against the Terrapins in the final regular-season game. Her balky knees have severely limited the amount of time she's on the court this season, and that may have been a factor and why she never entered the game against Michigan last night. She is quite possibly Nebraska's most productive player on a “per minute played” basis.
One reason Blackburn was leaned on so much in that game vs Maryland is that Darrien Washington was out with a shoulder injury. Washington is available tonight. She has really stepped up her game this season, partly due to improved health, and is usually the first post player off the bench. However, I admit that I’m a big Rachel Blackburn fan. I wish we got to see more of her on the court.
Freshman Taylor Kissinger is regarded as day-to-day with her arm injury, officially being referred to as an “upper body strain”. She did not dress last night, and it's unknown if she is available for this game. Update: She is in uniform, so there is a chance we could see her on the court.
While the bread-and-butter of this team is their defense, the Huskers are going to need to get the offense going to hang with the Terps. During the stretch where the Huskers were knocking off ranked teams left and right, the offense looked very good. During the last few regular season games however, they definitely had some rough patches; turnovers especially have been an issue.
Second team all-big Ten Conference point guard Hannah Whitish will need to take charge on the offensive side of the court. Maddie Simon, Nicea Eliely, and Kate Cain will especially be looked to for some points. Janay Morton has shown flashes on offense and Jasmine Cincore is capable of registering numbers in every statistical category.
I'm not going to make any predictions, Mostly because I don't really know what to expect from this young team. I'm pretty sure they're going to play extremely hard. I'm also pretty sure they'll get contributions from everywhere on the roster. Will it be enough?
Join us in the comments section and watch on BTN to find out.