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Nebraska WBB vs Rutgers Preview

The Scarlet Knights usually have a smothering defense. Can the Huskers generate enough offense to get the win?

Scott Bruhn

During their buzzer beating upset of #15 Northwestern, the Husker women showed they can handle the Wildcats ‘blizzard’ defense. That confidence should serve them well as Rutgers generally brings a defensive mindset that is even more aggressive and smothering. The Scarlet Knights are so aggressive that they even contest simple handoffs between the guards and will be relentless with the full court pressure.

The Huskers better have practiced 20 second offensive sets, because the Knights will force the Huskers to use a lot of time off the shot clock to just get the ball past halfcourt.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten)

Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, 2 p.m. (CT)

Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, Nebraska

Live Video: B1G Network+

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

Sunday’s game will be the first of two meetings between Nebraska and Rutgers this season. The Huskers are scheduled to travel to the RAC in Piscataway to battle the Scarlet Knights on Feb. 7.

Nebraska improved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten with a dramatic, 65-63 buzzer-beating victory over previously unbeaten and No. 15 Northwestern on Thursday in Lincoln. Sam Haiby’s put-back of her own missed layup as time expired lifted Nebraska to the upset of the defending Big Ten regular-season co-champion Wildcats.

Haiby’s last-second shot was ESPN Sport Center’s Top Play of New Year’s Eve.

Haiby, a 5-9 junior guard from Moorhead, Minn., finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists against Northwestern. She enters the Rutgers game leading Nebraska in scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounding (7.4 rpg) and assists (3.7 apg).

Sophomore Isabelle Bourne added her first career double-double in the win over the Wildcats, finishing with 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. A 6-2 forward/guard from Canberra, Australia, Bourne heads into the Rutgers game ranked second among the Huskers in scoring (14.6 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg) and blocks (1.3 bpg). Through four Big Ten games, Bourne’s numbers are even better at 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest.

Kate Cain, a 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., joins Haiby and Bourne as Nebraska’s tri-captains in 2020-21. Cain notched four blocks against Northwestern to become just the sixth player in Big Ten history with 300 career blocked shots. Cain is averaging 3.0 blocks per game this season to go along with 8.0 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Ashley Scoggin has stepped into a major role in her first year as a Husker. The 22-year-old redshirt sophomore put up double figures for the second straight game with 11 points and three assists in the win over No. 15 Northwestern. She owns season highs with 16 points against both Purdue and Idaho State and is averaging 7.7 points per game while hitting 11-of-24 threes (.458).

Junior Bella Cravens also has been a major contributor as a starter in Big Ten play. The 6-3 forward from Laie, Hawaii, is averaging 6.8 points and a team-best 9.0 rebounds in conference games, including a career-high-tying 16 rebounds in the win over Illinois. She added 10 boards at Purdue.

Scouting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer brings 1,046 career wins with her into Sunday afternoon’s game against Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Stringer, who is in her 50th season overall as a head coach, leads her 26th Rutgers team with a 5-2 record this season and a 1-2 start to Big Ten play.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 90-84 loss at Iowa on New Year’s Eve in a game that matched two teams receiving the same number of votes (6, T33rd) in the most recent Associated Press Poll.

Rutgers always starts with defense, but the Scarlet Knights feature one of the nation’s elite scorers in redshirt senior Arella Guirantes. One of three Big Ten Preseason Co-Players of the Year and the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, Guirantes leads Rutgers in scoring (24.6 ppg), rebounding (7.4 rpg), assists (5.7 apg) and steals (3.0 spg) while hitting 43.6 percent (17-39) of her three-point attempts and 89.1 percent (49-55) of her free throws. She went off for 34 points in the loss at Iowa. Last season, Guirantes earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after leading the league in scoring (20.6 ppg).

The Scarlet Knights also feature another explosive scorer in true freshman Diamond Johnson. The 5-5 guard is averaging 17.6 points per game after getting 18 points off the bench at Iowa. the No. 6 overall player in the nation by ESPN coming out of high school, Johnson has scored in double figures in each of her first seven collegiate games and is averaging 20.7 points per game over the last three contests, including a career-high 23 in a win over Manhattan (Dec. 23).

Through seven games, Rutgers is averaging 85.7 points per game while allowing 57.1 points per contest, but the Scarlet Knights surrendered 91 points in a home loss to No. 14 Maryland (Dec. 14) and 90 at Iowa (Dec. 31). Prior to giving up 90 points twice in the first seven games this season, Rutgers had not allowed an opponent to reach 90 since Ohio State on Feb. 8, 2018 - a span of 71 games. The Buckeyes also got 90 against Rutgers on Jan. 10, 2016, the only times in the previous five seasons that Rutgers had surrendered 90.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (4-3, 2-2 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
14 Bella Cravens 6-3 Jr. F 5.7 6.9
34 Isabelle Bourne 6-2 So. F 14.6 7.3
31 Kate Cain 6-5 Gr./Sr.C 8.0 5.9
0 Ashley Scoggin 5-7 RSo. G 7.7 2.3
4 Sam Haiby 5-9 Jr. G 16.1 7.4

Off the Bench
21 Annika Stewart 6-3 Fr. F 7.3 4.3
2 Trinity Brady 5-11 So. G 8.5 5.0
10 Whitney Brown 5-8 Fr. G 3.1 1.7
11 Ruby Porter 5-10 Fr. G 2.2 1.6
5 MiCole Cayton 5-9 Gr./RJr. G DNP

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fifth Season at Nebraska (63-65) 14th Season Overall (256-174)

RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (5-2, 1-2 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
13 Mael Gilles 6-1 Sr. F 8.7 5.3
22 Tyia Singleton 6-2 RSo.F 4.9 3.0
1 Zipporah Broughton 5-7 Jr. G 11.3 2.3
24 Arella Guirantes 5-11 RSr.G 24.6 7.4
31 Tekia Mack 6-1 Sr. F/G 8.0 4.0

Off the Bench
3 Diamond Johnson 5-5 Fr. G 17.6 3.6
12 Sakima Walker 6-4 Fr. C 4.9 3.0
2 Liz Martino 6-0 Fr. G 3.7 1.3
11 Stephanie Guihon 5-6 RJr. G 2.5 0.3
4 Destiny Marshall 5-10 RJr. G 2.2 1.2
10 Erica Lafayette 6-0 Fr. G/F 2.0 1.7
54 Chyna Cornwell 6-3 Fr. F 0.0 0.5

Head Coach: C. Vivian Stringer (Slippery Rock, 1971) 26th Season at Rutgers (526-288) 50th Season Overall (1,046-423)