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Nebraska WBB vs Iowa Preview

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Can the Huskers move above .500 in the Big Ten by grounding the high-flying Hawkeyes?

NCAA Womens Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Monday is senior night for Nebraska women’s basketball - the final home game for Maddie Simon. The 6’2” guard turned power forward has always been a player I rooted for and wanted to do well. The former Nebraska high school player of the year will have a chance to cap off a solid Husker career against the #10 Iowa Hawkeyes. She has played in 105 games, scoring nearly 700 points while grabbing more than 300 rebounds.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. 10/10 Iowa Hawkeyes
Monday, February 25, 2019, 7:30 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln, Nebraska
Live TV: BTN (Mike Monaco, Christy Winters Scott)
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (7:15 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst); Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-ESPN 590 AM
Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn

The Huskers are coming off back-to-back wins for just the second time in Big Ten play after working their way to a 71-64 win at Northwestern (Feb. 21). Nebraska’s only other two-game conference winning streak this season came against Michigan and at Ohio State to open league play and ended with a 77-71 loss at Iowa (Jan. 3).

Nebraska is one of four teams that enter the final week of Big Ten play with an 8-8 record and one of eight teams that could finish with a 10-8 mark. Nebraska is 1-4 against the top four teams in the Big Ten standings with two lossess to No. 8 Maryland, one loss to No. 10 Iowa, a loss to previously ranked Rutgers and a loss at Michigan.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-14, 8-8 Big Ten)
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 3.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 7.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 10.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - G/F - 9.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Off the Bench
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 8.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 7.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 7.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg
11(out) - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 2.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Third Season at Nebraska (41-47); 12th Season Overall (234-156)

No. 10/10 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-6, 12-4 Big Ten)
21 - Hannah Stewart - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 11.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg
10 - Megan Gustafson - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 27.4 ppg, 13.1 rpg
3 - Mackenzie Meyer - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 9.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg
11 - Tania Davis - 5-3 - Sr. - G - 10.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
22 - Kathleen Doyle - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 13.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Off the Bench
5 - Alexis Sevillian - 5-5 - So. - G - 5.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg
43 - Amanda Ollinger - 6-1 - Jr. - F - 2.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg
25 - Monika Czinano - 6-3 - Fr. - F/C - 2.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg
1 - Tomi Taiwo - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 1.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg
24 - Zion Sanders - 5-8 - So. - G - 1.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg
23 - Logan Cook - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 0.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg
31 - Paula Valino Ramos - 6-3 - So. - F/C - 0.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg

Head Coach: Lisa Bluder (Northern Iowa, 1983) 19th Season at Iowa (388-216); 35th Season Overall (744-358)

Scouting the Iowa Hawkeyes

The No. 10 Hawkeyes are No. 2 in the Big Ten standings at 12-4 after losing 75-73 on a last-second shot at Indiana on Thursday night.

Iowa is led by All-American, National Player-of-the-Year candidate and probable Big Ten Player-of-the-Year Megan Gustafson, who leads the nation in scoring at 27.4 points and ranks fourth with 13.1 rebounds per contest. Both of those averages are on the rise since Nebraska’s first meeting with the Hawkeyes on Jan. 3.

Gustafson, a 6-3 senior forward, owns 2,542 career points and 1,332 career rebounds in her 126 career games. She is shooting a career-best 70.4 percent from the field and 78 percent at the free throw line. She is a 12-time Big Ten Player of the Week this season and has scored 30 or more points nine times this year, including a pair of 40-point performances. Over the last six games, Gustafson is averaging 30.7 points and 14.5 rebounds. In the first meeting with Nebraska this season, she had 28 points and 17 boards.

Fellow senior forward Hannah Stewart is enjoying her best season, averaging 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 75 percent at the line in her first year as a starter. In the first meeting with Nebraska this season, Stewart scored 14 points.

Senior guard Tania Davis has had each of the last two seasons cut short by injuries but has started all 27 games for the Hawkeyes this year. She is averaging 10.8 points and 4.7 assists through 27 games. The 5-3 Davis had 11 points and five rebounds in the first meeting with Nebraska this year. She is shooting 38.5 percent (42-109) from three-point range and 86 percent (49-57) from the free throw line.

Junior guards Kathleen Doyle and Mackenzie Meyer round out one of the Big Ten’s most experienced starting fives. Doyle, who missed all of November with a broken left hand, has averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.5 steals this season. In the first meeting with the Huskers this season, Doyle had 11 points, nine assists and four steals.

Meyer has pitched in 9.1 points and 4.2 assists despite battling a recent injury. Meyer has knocked down 41 threes (.323) for the Hawkeyes and is a nearly automatic 97 percent (32-33) at the free throw line. She scored just two points in Iowa’s win in Iowa City earlier this season.

Sophomore guard Alexis Sevillian gives Iowa a sixth experienced player. In her first two seasons on the court, Sevillian has made 35 starts, filling in for all three of Iowa’s starting guards while they faced injuries. Sevillian is averaging 5.6 points per game this season and had eight points, three rebounds and three assists in the first meeting with the Huskers this year.

Iowa leads the Big Ten in scoring (80.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.519), free throw percentage (.762) and assists (21.9 apg) while ranking 11th in the conference in scoring defense (68.6 ppg) and ninth in field goal percentage defense (.405) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.319).

Game Guesses

The Huskers are playing better of late, but Iowa is a team that is playing with a great deal of poise and confidence. Given that they are coming off a loss, I expect Nebraska to see an Iowa team ready to take out their frustrations on the young Huskers.

I’ve had this one chalked up as a “L” for a while in my predictions, but these teams always seem to play each other closer than they should. Gustafson is a future WNBA player and no one has really succeeded in shutting her down this season. The Husker posts, Cain, Mershon, Simon and Verbeek will have their hands full with both Gustafson and Stewart and will need their best game of the season to slow down a high-scoring Hawkeye offense.