Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (9-5, 1-2 Big Ten)
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, 7 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln, Neb.
Live TV: NET (Thor Tripp, Jami Hagedorn)
Live Video Stream: BTN+ (NET production)Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (6:45 p.m.)Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)Lincoln - B107.3 FM & 1400 AM KLIN; Omaha - ESPN 590 AM Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn
In my Minnesota preview I said that the Husker women would probably have to play their best game of the season to beat a ranked Minnesota team. I think they might have done it, but had an easier time dispatching the Gophers than I expected.
Kate Cain continues her torrid string of performances and earned a spot on the Big Ten weekly honor roll. The junior center has posted double doubles in each of the three conference games thus far. Sophomore Sam Haiby is the other Husker that has earned ‘honor roll’ accolades (twice this season) in her first season as a starter. Senior point guard Hannah Whitish was a big reason for the win versus Minnesota as her five three-pointers made Minnesota respect the long shot and space out their defense, giving Cain room to work.
Sophomore Leigha Brown continues to get the tough points (I frequently find myself yelling “No No No...Yes!” when she goes in for a shot) and leads the Huskers in scoring, despite coming off the bench. Look for Brown to be in the mix for “sixth man” awards for the Big Ten at season’s end if she keeps this up.
Of concern for me is the injury count. Sharpshooter Taylor Kissinger (guard/wing) is out for the season. We have also seen only sporadic appearances from senior guard Kristian Hudson and freshman guard Makenzie Helms. Both have an injury history that suggests they may not be fully healthy (hopefully I’m wrong). Senior post Grace Mitchell also did not play vs Minnesota. She has been dealing with a shoulder injury, but I didn’t catch any announcement on whether that was the reason for her absence in that game. Fortunately, freshman guard Trinity Brady has returned after missing almost all of the non-conference season due to a concussion. Brady is a bit like Jasmine Cincore (graduated two years ago) in that she makes her presence felt as soon as she steps on the court. Brady is a physical player and has been a revelation in her ability to play defense with so little college experience.
If Hudson, Helms, and Mitchell are limited or out, Amy Williams will be featuring a nine-player rotation. That is fairly common in college women’s basketball, but Williams has been a coach that likes to play her entire roster. Hopefully all three will be available and healthy at some point this season.
Last season, Wisconsin was a terrible team and the up-and-down Huskers still managed to lose on a last second (controversial) shot. That loss was likely the one that kept Nebraska out of the WNIT (you need at least a .500 record and Huskers finished a game below that). The Huskers may be looking to avenge that loss, but hopefully they focus on the mechanics of the game instead of the emotion. This season, the Badgers appear to have improved and will not be an easy out for Nebraska.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - So. - F - 8.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - Jr. - C - 11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 8.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - So. - G - 11.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Sr. - G - 8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Off the Bench
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - So. - F - 13.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg
34 - Isabelle Bourne - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 4.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 2.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - So. - F - 1.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg
2 - Trinity Brady - 5-11 - Fr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg
11 - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - RSr. - G - 1.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg
1 - Makenzie Helms - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 0.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg
Out for Season
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fourth Season at Nebraska (54-51); 13th Season Overall (247-160)
Wisconsin Badgers (9-5, 1-2 Big Ten)
14 - Abby Laszewski - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 11.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg
34 - Imani Lewis - 6-1 - So. - F - 14.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg
10 - Kendra Van Leeuwen - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
22 - Niya Beverley - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 7.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg
30 - Sydney Hilliard - 5-11 - Fr. - G - 10.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Off the Bench
3 - Suzanne Gilreath - 5-4 - Sr. - G - 6.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg
5 - Julie Pospisilova - 6-0 - Fr. - G - 5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg
40 - Tara Stauffacher - 5-11 - Fr. - F - 3.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg
41 - Sara Stapleton - 6-3 - Fr. - F/C - 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg
44 - Alex Luehring - 6-2 - So. - G - 1.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg
20 - Diamond Bragg - 5-7 - So. - G - 1.2 ppg, 0.5 rpg
Head Coach: Jonathan Tsipis (North Carolina, 1996) Fourth Season at Wisconsin (42-66); Eighth Season Overall (134-104)