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Nebraska WBB vs Oral Roberts: Preview

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There are a lot of new faces and unknowns with this year’s Husker women’s basketball team.

Nebraska v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0) vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (0-2)
Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, 6 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln, Neb.
Live Video: B1G Network+
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (5:45 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst) Lincoln (B107.3 FM/1400 AM); Omaha (ESPN 590 AM); Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn

The Nebraska women’s basketball team opens its 2020-21 season against the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts University. As with most sports events right now, no fans will be permitted inside Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska is coming off a 17-13 season that would have culminated with a trip to the Postseason WNIT in 2020, but the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic ended the college basketball season before postseason play could begin.

The Eagles already have a couple of games under their belts but are otherwise similar to Nebraska in having a lot of new faces on their team. Nebraska’s 12-player roster features seven newcomers including four transfers and three true freshmen for fifth-year Coach Amy Williams.

While a majority of Nebraska’s roster is new to the program, Oral Roberts has experienced an even more massive overhaul with 12 newcomers on the Golden Eagle 16-player roster.

Last season, Nebraska defeated Oral Roberts 77-67 at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Dec. 14 to improve to 9-1 on the year. The Huskers are 7-0 all-time against ORU with all seven meetings in Lincoln.

The Huskers figure to be strong inside with senior shot blocker extraordinaire Kate Cain being a prominent part of the Nebraska defense. After shedding some weight and working on her mid range shot before her junior season, Cain developed into a larger part of the offensive attack as well.

Junior Sam Haiby is the other returning starter. Her strong suit is driving to the basket, but she showed a lot of improvement in her three point shot from her freshman to sophomore year. She is a genuine threat from every spot on the floor now and is a good on-ball defender. She is a smart enough player/passer that she was often tasked with running point when Hannah Whitish (now graduated) needed a rest. My expectation is that she will run point from time to time, but will mostly be needed to step up her offensive output as a shooting guard (with Kenzie Helms taking over more point duties).

Sophomore Aussie forward Isabelle Bourne came in far more polished than most freshman, largely due to her extensive international experience. Even though she does not have a lot of starts, by the end of the 2020 season, she was logging more playing time than the other Huskers on the roster at the “4” spot. She is the kind of athletic, tenacious post player that gives teams fits (at least that type of player has given the Huskers fits in recent years).

Sophomore guard Kenzie Helms is a true point guard and is not only whip smart, but lightning quick if the defense gives her a crease to drive or pass. Last season, she was limited in playing time (recovering from a preseason injury/surgery) but she showed great athleticism and a willingness to ‘make the play’ - with that second trait being one that can get young players in trouble if they gamble too much. It will be fun to see if she is asked to run point right away this season or if she and Haiby trade off until Amy Williams is comfortable with Helms’ decision-making.

Sophomore guard Trinity Brady is a bulldog defender who uses her height and strength to bully her opponents and keep them off balance. She probably won’t lead the Huskers in scoring many times this season, but she is capable (and confident) of making shots anywhere on the floor if a defense pays too much attention to the other players.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (Anticipated Starters)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
34 Isabelle Bourne 6-2 So. F 0.0 0.0
31 Kate Cain 6-5 Gr./Sr. C 0.0 0.0
1 Makenzie Helms 5-8 So. G 0.0 0.0
2 Trinity Brady 5-11 So. G 0.0 0.0
4 Sam Haiby 5-9 Jr. G 0.0 0.0

Off the Bench
0 Ashley Scoggin 5-7 RSo. G 0.0 0.0
5 MiCole Cayton 5-9 Gr./RJr. G 0.0 0.0
10 Whitney Brown 5-8 Fr. G 0.0 0.0
11 Ruby Porter 5-10 Fr. G 0.0 0.0
14 Bella Cravens 6-3 Jr. F 0.0 0.0
21 Annika Stewart 6-3 Fr. F 0.0 0.0
24 Nailah Dillard 5-9 So. G 0.0 0.0

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fifth Season at Nebraska (59-62) 14th Season Overall (252-171)

HUSKER NUGGETS

• The Big Ten finished with 11 teams in the final top 64 of the Massey Ratings in 2019-20: Maryland (4), Northwestern (8), Indiana (11), Iowa (17), Ohio State (19), Michigan (27), Rutgers (30), Purdue (41), Nebraska (48), Michigan State (50), Minnesota (62).

• Nebraska led the Big Ten in blocked shots (6.3 bpg) in 2019-20, while shattering the school record with 188 blocks on the season.

• Kate Cain has produced the top three individual block totals in NU history the past three seasons (101, 2019-20; 100, 2017-18; 79, 2018-19).

• Nebraska ranked second in the Big Ten in total rebounds (39.8 rpg) and defensive rebounds (28.3 rpg) in 2019-20.

ORAL ROBERTS GOLDEN EAGLES

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
32 Addisyn Moore 6-0 Fr. F 1.5 4.5
20 Regan Schumacher 6-2 Sr. C 7.0 7.0
2 Tierney Coleman 5-9 Fr. G 7.0 2.5
14 Ariel Walker 5-5 Jr. G 6.5 5.5
33 Keni Jo Lippe 5-9 Sr. G 0.0 2.0

Off the Bench
11 Gem Summers 5-9 So. G 9.5 3.0
22 Faith Paramore 5-11 Fr. F 9.0 5.5
12 Camryn Hill 5-11 Fr. G 4.5 1.1
21 Sinetra Jones 6-3 So. C 4.0 4.0
0 Tyaija Coleman 5-9 Fr. G 3.5 1.0
24 Courtlyn Loudermill 5-7 Fr. G 1.0 1.0
4 Hannah Giddey 6-1 Fr. F 0.0 6.0
1 Nena Taylor 5-8 So. G DNP
5 Manaya Jones 6-4 RSr.C DNP
10 Bo Teulings 5-10 So. G DNP

Head Coach: Misti Cussen (Southern Nazarene, 1993) Ninth Season at Oral Roberts (124-124) Ninth Season Overall (124-124)

Scouting Oral Roberts

• Oral Roberts brings an 0-2 record to Lincoln for Friday night’s game against Nebraska. The Golden Eagles opened with a 96-49 loss at No. 14 Arkansas (Wednesday, Nov. 26), before suffering a 73-54 setback at Oklahoma State on Sunday (Nov. 29).

• In the season-opening loss to the Razorbacks, ORU lost senior starting guard Keni Jo Lippe in the game’s second minute to an ankle injury. Lippe averaged 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals last season to earn first-team All-Summit League honors.

• The 5-9 guard from Adair, Okla., who sat out the loss to Oklahoma State with the ankle injury, comes to Nebraska with 1,215 career points. She led all scorers with 21 points in ORU’s 77-67 loss at Nebraska last season.

• The only other returning Golden Eagles to play in last season’s game at Nebraska are senior Regan Schumacher and sophomore guards Gem Summers and Nena Taylor. None of those three players scored, and Taylor has not made an appearance yet for ORU this season.

Husker History of Home-Opening Success

• Nebraska’s season opener against Oral Roberts marks the latest home-opening game on the calendar in school history. NU’s previous latest home tip came with a 61-59 win over Kearney State on Dec. 2, 1976.

• The only other December home opener in school history came with an 86-79 win over Arizona State at the Devaney Center on Dec. 1, 1992.

• Nebraska owns a history of season-opening success on the Huskers’ home court. NU improved to 43-3 in home season openers with a a 68-46 victory over Alabama A&M on Nov. 6, 2019.

• NU is 6-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in season openers, including the win over Alabama A&M last year. The lone loss came on Nov. 7, 2018, with an 83-77 loss to Drake. In the first regular-season game in the history of Pinnacle Bank Arena, Nebraska powered its way to a 77-49 win over UCLA on Nov. 8, 2013.