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Nebraska WBB vs Illinois Preview

The Huskers open conference play on BTN but are down to nine available players after a guard leaves the team

Scott Bruhn

The big news today was that sophomore guard Kenzie Helms has left the Husker program for personal reasons. Her departure leaves Nebraska with just nine available players, although MiCole Cayton is supposedly getting close to playing (knee injury). I don’t have a timeline on Nailah Dillard’s return.

The Huskers leading scorer on the season thus far is freshman Annika Stewart. She has been a force thus far. Much like Issie Bourne last season, Anni Stewart does not play like a typical freshman.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, 7 p.m. (CT)

Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln, Neb.

Live TV: B1G Network (Larry Punteney, PBP; Brenda VanLengen, Analyst)

Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (6:45 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst) Lincoln (B107.3 FM & KLIN 1400 AM); Omaha (ESPN 590 AM); Lexington (KRVN 880 AM) Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn

Nebraska opened its 2020-21 season with a 2-0 start over the weekend. The Huskers ran to a 90-61 season-opening win over Oral Roberts on Friday night (Dec. 4) before completing the weekend sweep with a 64-51 win over Idaho State on Sunday (Dec. 6) at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Husker senior (graduate student) Kate Cain produced a solid opening weekend by averaging 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocked shots, including the 13th double-double of her career with 14 points, 11 rebounds and six rejections in the win over ORU. The three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate enters the Illinois game with a school-record 288 career blocks and needs two rejections to move into a tie for seventh with Ashley Adams (Ohio State) on the Big Ten all-time list. Cain is just five blocks away from sixth (Morgan Johnson, Iowa, 293) and needs 12 blocks to become just the sixth player in Big Ten history to record 300 career blocked shots.

Sophomore Isabelle Bourne enjoyed a strong opening weekend as a Husker starter, averaging 11.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists to help the Huskers. Bourne had nine second-half points in Sunday’s win over Idaho State and her older sister, Callie, a junior guard for the Bengals.

Junior Sam Haiby continued to show her all-around game. Nebraska’s top returning scorer averaged 10 points, 9.5 rebound and 5.0 assists over the weekend. The 5-9 guard had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists through the first three quarters of Nebraska’s opening-night win over Oral Roberts. She followed with a career-best 11 rebounds in the win over Idaho State.

Redshirt sophomore Ashley Scoggin started both games to open her Husker career and erupted for a career-high 16 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting in the win over Idaho State. She bounced back after being shut out of the scoring column vs ORU.

Freshman Annika Stewart was the only Husker to produce double figures in both wins, totaling 27 points in just 24 minutes off the bench. The 6-3 forward hit the first five shots of her NU career and buried four threes over two games. She is averaging a team-best 13.5 points per game.

Scouting Illinois

Coach Nancy Fahey brings her fourth Fighting Illini team to Lincoln with a 2-1 record this season following 53-50 win over Omaha on Sunday in Champaign.

As a team, Illinois has hit just 35.4 percent (64-181) of its shots from the field and 64.6 percent (42-65) of its free throws but the Illini did seal Sunday’s win by going 13-for-16 (.813) at the line.

While they have struggled to shoot it, Illinois has been an excellent rebounding team through three games with a plus 11.0 rebound margin (44.7-33.7). The Illini also carry a plus-one turnover margin. Illinois has averaged 60 points per game, but has surrendered just 53.7 points per contest.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (2-0, 0-0 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
34 Isabelle Bourne 6-2 So. F 11.5 6.0
31 Kate Cain 6-5 Gr./Sr.C 11.0 8.0
0 Ashley Scoggin 5-7 RSo. G 8.0 2.5
2 Trinity Brady 5-11 So. G 8.5 5.0
4 Sam Haiby 5-9 Jr. G 10.0 9.5

Off the Bench
21 Annika Stewart 6-3 Fr. F 13.5 4.5
14 Bella Cravens 6-3 Jr. F 4.5 4.0
10 Whitney Brown 5-8 Fr. G 2.5 1.0
11 Ruby Porter 5-10 Fr. G 2.5 3.0
5 MiCole Cayton 5-9 Gr./RJr. G DNP
24 Nailah Dillard 5-9 So. G DNP

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fifth Season at Nebraska (61-62) 14th Season Overall (254-171)

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (2-1, 0-0 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
44 Kennedi Myles 6-2 So. F 10.3 10.3
22 Eva Rubin 6-5 RJr. C 7.5 5.5
0 J-Naya Ephraim 5-9 Jr. G 8.3 3.0
10 Jeanae Terry 5-11 So. G 14.0 9.3
11 Jada Peebles 5-10 So. G 10.3 1.7

Off the Bench
14 Geovana Lopes 6-3 Jr. F/C 6.0 3.7
32 Aaliyah Nye 5-11 Fr. G 3.7 2.3
3 Solape Amusan 6-1 So. F 2.0 1.7
2 Lyric Robins 5-11 Sr. F 0.3 1.3
21 Aaliyah McQueen 5-9 Fr. G 0.0 1.3
1 Nancy Panagiotopoulou 6-3 RJr. F 0.0 0.7
13 Tara O’Malley 5-6 Jr. G 0.0 0.0

Head Coach: Nancy Fahey (Wisconsin, 1981) Fourth Season at Illinois (32-62) 35th Season Overall (769-195)