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Nebraska WBB vs Penn State Preview

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The Husker women close out the regular season against the Nittany Lions

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Maryland vs Nebraska Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Penn State Lady Lions
Saturday, March 2, 2019, 2 p.m. (CT)
Bryce Jordan Center (15,104) - University Park, Pa.
Live TV: BTN (Chris Vosters, Vera Jones)
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (1:45 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst); Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-ESPN 590 AM
Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn

Nebraska (13-15, 8-9 Big Ten) and the Lady Lions (12-16, 5-12 Big Ten) are currently in a tie for 8th place and 12th place in the conference respectively. Nebraska will be playing for positioning at next week’s Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis. Through games Feb. 27, the Huskers could finish between fifth and 10th depending on the remaining results in the league.

Nebraska takes aim at its third win in the last four games in hopes of finishing with a .500 league record at 9-9. It would be the seventh time in eight years since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12 that the Huskers have finished with a .500 or better conference mark.

Overall, 11 of Nebraska’s 15 losses have come against teams that have been ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point during the season, as the Huskers own the No. 21 Strength of Schedule in the country.

Nebraska’s four-player freshman class ranks No. 2 in the nation with 825 total points, trailing only Alabama State’s 1,176. ASU has an eight-player freshman class that includes its top five scorers. Leigha Brown is the second of the Husker freshman to work her way into the starting lineup during the season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-15, 8-9 Big Ten)
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 7.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 9.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg

Off the Bench

4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 9.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 8.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 7.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 7.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.0 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 (41-48); 12th Season Overall (234-157)

Penn State Lady Lions (12-16, 5-12 Big Ten)
33 - Lauren Ebo - 6-4 - Fr. - F - 5.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg
2 - Amari Carter - 5-8 - Jr. - G - 10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
3 - Karisma Ortiz - 6-0 - Fr. - G - 3.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg
4 - Siyeh Frazier - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 10.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
11 - Teniya Page - 5-7 - Sr. - G - 19.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Off the Bench
1 - Alisia Smith - 6-3 - So. - F - 9.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg
5 - Kamaria McDaniel - 5-9 - So. - G - 9.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg
31 - Jaida Travascio-Green - 6-2 - Jr. - G - 7.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg
43 - Bexley Wallace - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 1.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg
12 - Kayleigh Simon - 5-6 - Sr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg
22 - Leah Knizer - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.2 rpg
34 - Sarah McMurtry - 5-6 - Sr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg

Head Coach: Coquese Washington (Notre Dame, 1983) 12th Season at Penn State (209-166); 12th Season Overall (209-166)

Scouting the Penn State Lady Lions

The Penn State Lady Lions head into Saturday’s regular-season finale with some momentum having won two of their past three games. While Penn State is 5-12 in the conference, four of its wins have come against Wisconsin and Illinois - the 13th and 14th-place teams in the league.

Teniya Page, a 5-7 senior guard is a two-time All-Big Ten choice and an honorable-mention WBCA All-American (2017). This year, Page is averaging 19.3 points per game. She has racked up 2,072 points as the sixth Lady Lion in history to reach 2,000. She has 421 rebounds and 409 career assists. She missed PSU’s wins over Purdue (Feb. 21), Illinois (Feb. 24) and a loss at Michigan State (Feb. 27) after suffering an injury in a 97-67 loss at Minnesota.

Jaida Travascio-Green stepped up in a big way in place of Page in wins over Purdue and Illinois. The 6-2 junior guard, who missed the non-conference season while recovering from a knee injury, scored 14 points and hit 3-of-7 threes in a season-high 39 minutes in the win over Purdue. She followed with a season-high 19 points on a season-best 5-for-10 shooting from three in the win at Illinois.

Kamaria McDaniel, a 5-9 sophomore guard, also shined in PSU’s wins over Purdue and Illinois, averaging 16.0 points and 2-0 assists. McDaniel hit 9-of-15 shots from the field (.600), including 5-of-9 threes (.556), while going 9-of-12 (.750) at the free throw line. She put up a Big Ten season-best 20 points at Illinois by tying her season high with four threes. McDaniel is averaging 9.4 points and 2.6 rebounds on the year. She has come off the bench in all 17 Big Ten games.

Siyeh Frazier, a 5-9 junior guard, has started all 28 games for the Lady Lions. The last four games, she has averaged 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists while hitting 20-of-37 (.541) of her shots and 8-of-9 (.889) free throws. Frazier is averaging 10.0 points and 4.6 rebounds on the season.

Amari Carter has started 24 of 25 games while battling injury at times in 2018-19. The 5-8 junior guard is averaging 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Karisma Ortiz, a 6-0 guard from California, adds size. She has started 22 times, including all 17 Big Ten games alongside Carter and Frazier. Ortiz is averaging 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest.

Fellow freshman Lauren Ebo has started the last four games and gives the Lady Lions a true post presence. The 6-4 forward out of Riverdale Baptist in Maryland, is averaging 9.5 points and 7.0 rebounds the past four games while hitting 17-of-29 shots (.586) after going for a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out at Michigan State Wednesday. She is averaging 5.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game on the season.

The Lady Lions have been challenged with injuries throughout the season, including a recent leg injury to starting forward Alisia Smith. The 6-3 sophomore averaged 9.5 points and team-best 7.1 rebounds, but suffered a non-contact leg injury at Northwestern on Feb. 14. Smith had five double-doubles in Penn State’s first 15 games this year.

Game Guesses

This is a game the Huskers should and need to win. Page’s status for the Nittany Lions is up in the air, but even if she plays, this is one where the Huskers should be the better team. Young teams like Nebraska are inconsistent, so it is hard to know which version of Amy Williams’ squad we’ll get on Saturday.

The biggest advantage I can see for the Huskers is in the paint. Nebraska’a bigs need to establish themselves on the offensive end, but need to especially be sure to snag defensive rebounds and set the offense up for some transition opportunities.

I like the Huskers’ chances to even their conference record to .500.