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Nebraska WBB: Kate Cain is the Big Ten Player of the Week

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After almost claiming a triple-double, the Huskers’ senior center was the class of the conference this week.

Scott Bruhn

The Husker women are flying high after defeating their third ranked opponent in five games. Defeating the #15 Ohio State Buckeyes was a tall task, made even taller by the loss of second-leading scorer Issie Bourne to an ankle injury.

A tall task requires a tall hero.

Enter 6’5” senior center Kate Cain. Cain played one of her most masterful games as a Husker and anchored a defense that has been nothing short of exceptional. Before the game, I worried that the loss of Bourne would be too much for Nebraska to overcome and that an upset of the previously-undefeated Buckeyes wasn’t in the cards.

Instead, the Husker guards, especially Sam Haiby, forced the Buckeyes to play the game at their pace and Cain took care of the rest. The Buckeyes were the #4 scoring team in the nation (averaging nearly 90 points per game) and the Huskers held them to 55 points - while only having seven available players.

Some other observations from the game:

  • By the fourth quarter, it was obvious that the Buckeyes wanted nothing to do with tangling with Kate Cain. I watched some of their players take a dribble into the paint, see Cain move into position and simply dribble back out again. They didn’t even challenge her because she was so dominant.
  • Cain blocked nine shots in that game. Some of those came back-to-back where she blocked the shooter, a Buckeye got the offensive rebound and Kate pivoted into position to block the putback too.
  • Late in the fourth quarter, Cain went for her tenth block (she did block it if I remember correctly) but she made enough contact that she was whistled for the foul. It was her FIRST foul of the game. Somehow, she managed to block NINE shots without being called for a foul. That is not just dominant, that is badass.

From the athletic department:

Nebraska’s Kate Cain captured the first Big Ten Women’s Basketball Player-of-the-Week honor of her career when the conference announced its award winners on Monday afternoon.

Cain, a 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., nearly produced her second career triple-double by erupting for 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocked shots to power Nebraska to a 63-55 victory over previously unbeaten and then-No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.

Cain, who tied her career high with 22 points, hit 10-of-14 shots from the field against the Buckeyes while her nine blocks tied the second-highest individual total in school history. Her block total trailed only her 11 blocked shots as a freshman against Florida Atlantic, when she produced Nebraska’s first-ever points-rebounds-blocks triple-double.

A graduate student who is pursuing her Master’s of Business Administration at Nebraska after earning her bachelor’s degree as a management major in just three years, Cain earned her first Big Ten Player-of-the-Week award of her career. An honorable-mention All-Big Ten choice last season and a two-time Big Ten All-Defensive selection (2018, 2020), Cain was a four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week in 2017-18.

The three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate currently ranks No. 2 among all active NCAA Division I women’s basketball players in career blocks (314). Her total ranks No. 6 in Big Ten history and is Nebraska’s school record. She leads the Big Ten in blocks (34) and blocks per game (3.1 bpg) through 11 games this season and has anchored a defense that has surrendered just 59.2 points per game over the last five contests, despite all five coming against top-36 NET ranked opponents that entered the game averaging better than 80 points per contest.

Cain and the Huskers will be back in action Tuesday when they battle Minnesota. Tip-off between the Big Red and Golden Gophers from Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 3 p.m. (CT) with live television coverage by the Big Ten Network. Live radio will be provided by the Husker Sports Network.