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Nebraska Women’s Basketball will host Northern Iowa Sunday in NIT Second Round

Michigan State v Nebraska Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Nebraska women’s basketball team will play host to Northern Iowa in the second round of the 2023 Postseason WNIT at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT).

Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-14, 8-10 Big Ten) vs. Northern Iowa Panthers (23-9, 16-4 Missouri Valley)
Postseason WNIT Second Round
Sunday, March 19, 2023, 2 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, Nebraska

Tickets: / 1-800-8-BIG-RED
Live Video: B1G+ (Jessica Coody, Jami Hagedorn)
Live Radio: Huskers Radio Network (1:45 p.m.)Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)Lincoln (107.3 FM), Omaha (590 AM),, Huskers App

Huskers Tangle with Panthers in WNIT Second Round

The Nebraska women’s basketball team continues 2023 postseason play when the Huskers play host to Northern Iowa in the WNIT second round on Sunday in Lincoln.

Tip-off between the Huskers (17-14, 8-10 Big Ten) and the Panthers (23-9, 16-4 Missouri Valley) is set for 2 p.m. (CT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

A live stream of the game will be provided to subscribers of B1G+ with Jessica Coody and Jami Hagedorn on the call. Fans also can listen across the Huskers Radio Network, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and 590 AM in Omaha, the Huskers App and, as Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch call the action.

Nebraska is making its 23rd overall postseason tournament appearance, including its seventh in the Postseason WNIT, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023.

The Huskers earned their third straight postseason bid, including a trip to the 2022 NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the 2021 WNIT. Nebraska was also postseason eligible in 2020 before COVID-19 led to the cancellation of all postseason play.

Over the past 20 seasons dating back to 2003-04, Nebraska has made 16 postseason appearances and has been postseason eligible 17 times, including nine NCAA bids and seven trips to the WNIT.

The Huskers advanced to the WNIT second round with a 74-65 victory over Missouri State on Wednesday, March 15, in front of 4,116 fans in Lincoln. It marked Nebraska’s first home postseason win inside Pinnacle Bank Arena. The only other home postseason game the Huskers had played at PBA came with a 64-62 loss to Northern Iowa on March 17, 2016.

Graduate guard Sam Haiby led the Huskers with a season-high 25 points, while fourth-year forward Isabelle Bourne added a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Lady Bears. Both Haiby and Bourne are three-time All-Big Ten honorees, while 2023 first-team All-Big Ten guard Jaz Shelley put three Huskers in double figures with 11 points and six assists.

The Huskers have been led throughout the season by Jaz Shelley, a 5-9 guard from Moe, Australia (pronounced MO-ee), who leads Nebraska in scoring (14.5 ppg), assists (6.1 apg) and steals (1.6). Shelley has scored in double figures 21 times in 2022-23, including eight games with 20 or more points. She scored a career-high 37 points at Minnesota (Feb. 15), after scoring 32 points to go with eight assists in a win over Mississippi State (Nov. 26). She also put up 31 points in a win over Wisconsin (Dec. 7).

Alexis Markowski (Lincoln, Neb.) added second-team All-Big Ten honors for the second straight season after leading the Big Ten in both double-doubles (15) and rebounding (10.1 rpg). The 6-3 sophomore who was a midseason top 10 contender for the Lisa Leslie Award, is tied for second among the Huskers with 12.3 points per game. Markowski produced nine double-doubles over the last 15 games, scoring in double figures 12 times while adding 11 games with with double-digit rebounds during that stretch. Markowski has scored in double figures a team-high 22 times, including a trio of 20-point performances.

Isabelle Bourne (Canberra, Australia) captured honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition for the third consecutive season in 2023. Bourne ranked 24th in scoring (12.9 ppg) and 15th in the league in rebounding (6.1 rpg) while ranking ninth in field goal percentage (.512) during conference play. Bourne has produced double figures 19 times in 2022-23, including three 20-point performances.

Sam Haiby (Moorhead, Minn.) claimed All-Big Ten recognition for the third straight year by adding honorable-mention accolades from the league media. Haiby ranks No. 12 at Nebraska in career points (1,613), 16th in rebounding (640) and No. 6 in assists (475). Haiby, who has played more games in a Nebraska uniform (138) than any other women’s basketball player in school history, missed 10 of the first 11 games this season while recovering from a leg injury.

Maddie Krull (Omaha, Neb.) rounds out Nebraska’s starting five with 6.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists on the season. The 5-9 guard who spent her first two seasons as a starter at South Dakota, owns seven double-figure scoring efforts on the season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-14, 8-10 Big Ten)

34 - Isabelle Bourne - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 12.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg
40 - Alexis Markowski - 6-3 - So. - C/F - 12.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg
1 - Jaz Shelley - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Gr. - G - 11.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg
42 - Maddie Krull - 5-9 - So. - G - 6.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg

Off the Bench

21 - Annika Stewart - 6-3 - So. - F - 5.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
14 - Callin Hake - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 4.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg
15 - Kendall Moriarty - 6-1 - So. - G - 3.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg
44 - Maggie Mendelson - 6-5 - Fr. - F/C - 2.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
32 - Kendall Coley - 6-2 - So. - F/G - 1.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg
2 - Trinity Brady (Out) - 5-11 - Jr. - G - 2.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg
3 - Allison Weidner (Out) - 5-10 - So. - G - 10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg

Head Coach:

Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Seventh Season at Nebraska (113-98); 16th Season Overall (306-207)

Northern Iowa Panthers (23-9, 16-4 Missouri Valley)

32 - Rachael Heittola - 6-3 - Jr. - F/C - 3.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg
42 - Grace Boffeli - 6-1 - So. - F - 16.3 ppg, 9.2 rpg
0 - Maya McDermott - 5-6 - So. - G - 14.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg
4 - Emerson Green - 5-10 - So. - G - 11.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg
12 - Kam Finley - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 8.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg

Off the Bench

24 - Kayba Laube - 5-9 - So. - G - 5.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
30 - Cynthia Wolf - 6-3 - Sr. - C - 4.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
22 - Taryn Wharton - 5-5 - Fr. - G - 4.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg
2 - Cailyn Morgan - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 3.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg
5 - Ryley Goebel - 5-11 - Fr. - F - 3.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
14 - Riley Wright - 5-11 - RFr. - G - 1.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg
3 - Ellie Foster - 5-11 - RFr. - G - 0.7 ppg, 0.2 rpg

Head Coach:

Tanya Warren (Creighton, 1988)
16th Season at Northern Iowa (306-210); 16th Season Overall (306-210)

Scouting the Northern Iowa Panthers

Northern Iowa brings a 23-9 overall record to Lincoln after running to an 88-76 win over Colorado State in the WNIT first round on Thursday night in Cedar Falls.

Coach Tanya Warren guided the Panthers to a third-place regular-season finish in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 16-4 record. Warren, who starred at Creighton in the mid-1980s, is in her 16th season leading UNI.

Northern Iowa split the regular-season series with Missouri State, falling to the Lady Bears 71-67 in Springfield, Mo. (Jan. 26), before running to an 86-67 win over Missouri State in Cedar Falls in the regular-season finale on March 4.

In games against common opponents with the Huskers, Northern Iowa swept Drake with a 70-69 win in Des Moines (Jan. 11) and a 49-47 victory in Cedar Falls (Feb. 1). The Panthers lost to Creighton, 85-66, in Cedar Falls (Nov. 20), and lost at Iowa, 88-74 (Dec. 18).

Northern Iowa faced a strong schedule littered with 16 games against NCAA and WNIT postseason teams, including seven games (3-4) against NCAA Tournament squads (Creighton, Drake-2, Iowa, Iowa State, Saint Louis, South Dakota State) and nine contests (4-5) against WNIT qualifiers (Belmont-3, Colorado State, Illinois State-2, Missouri State-2 and North Dakota State).

The Panthers are a solid offensive team that averages 75.1 points per game, while hitting 44.4 percent of their field goal attempts and an impressive 35.3 percent of their three-point attempts. They own a plus-2.2 turnover margin and a plus-1.2 rebound margin, while holding the opposition to just 65.1 points per game. UNI has limited opponents to just 39.9 percent shooting, including 30.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Northern Iowa is led by sophomore Grace Boffeli. The 6-1 forward is averaging team bests of 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, while hitting 55.3 percent of her shots from the field, including 41.7 percent (15-36) of her three-point attempts. The first-team All-MVC selection has been to the free throw line more than 200 times, connecting on 64.8 percent (138-213) of her attempts. She had 16 points and 15 rebounds in Thursday’s win over Colorado State.

Fellow sophomore Maya McDermott added second-team All-MVC recognition after averaging 14.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and a team-best 3.6 assists per game. McDermott, who was named the MVC’s Most Improved Player, hit a team-best 57 three-pointers (.370) and 90.9 percent (90-99) of her free throw attempts. She had 21 points with five three-pointers in the win over CSU.

Emerson Green gives the Panthers three sophomore starters averaging in double figures at 11.4 points and 3.1 rebounds, while adding 2.1 assists per game. The 5-10 guard leads the UNI backcourt with 42.2 percent (43-102) shooting from three-point range. She had 17 points in Thursday’s win.

Senior Kam Finley, a 5-9 guard, has joined Boffeli and McDermott in starting all 32 games for the Panthers. Finley is averaging 8.4 points and 2.6 boards while connecting on 32-of-100 threes (.320). She finished with 19 points in Thursday’s first-round WNIT win over the Rams.

Cynthia Wolf (4.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), a 6-3 senior center, had been a consistent starter for UNI through the first 28 games before suffering an injury. Rachael Heittola, a 6-3 junior, has replaced Wolf in the starting five, and is averaging 3.6 points and 1.9 rebounds on the season. Heittola is shooting a team-best 45.2 percent (14-31) from three-point range.

The Panthers feature a deep playing rotation that includes 5-9 sophomore Kayba Laube (5.1 ppg 2.1 rpg), 5-5 freshman Taryn Wharton (4.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and 5-10 junior Cailyn Morgan (3.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) who have all competed in all 32 games for UNI. The trio has combined to hit 73-of-225 three-pointers (.324). Ryley Goebel, a 5-11 forward who earned MVC All-Freshman honors, adds athleticism, leading UNI with 40 blocks and 43 steals despite playing just 17 minutes per game.

Northern Iowa’s 12-player roster is dominated by 10 Iowans, including three regular starters from Cedar Falls High School (Kam Finley, Emerson Green, Cynthia Wolf), two key reserves from Marion High School (Kayba Laube, Riley Wright). Grace Boffeli (Eldridge), Maya McDermott (Johnston), Cailyn Morgan (Coralville), Ryley Goebel (Center Point) and Ellie Foster (Dike).

Taryn Wharton (Bellevue, Neb.) and Rachael Heittola (Belleville, Wis.) are the only non-Iowans on the UNI roster.

Nebraska vs. Northern Iowa Series History

Nebraska leads the all-time series with Northern Iowa 6-1, but the Panthers defeated the Huskers, 64-62, to knock NU out of the Postseason WNIT on March 17, 2016, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the last meeting between the two schools.

In a series that dates back to an 80-48 Nebraska home win over UNI at the Devaney Center on Dec. 28, 1989, the Huskers reeled off six straight wins prior to the 2016 WNIT loss.

Nebraska rolled to an 83-44 victory over Northern Iowa (March 21) in the 2010 NCAA Tournament First Round at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. The Huskers were a No. 1 seed in the tournament and advanced to their first-ever NCAA Sweet Sixteen with a win over UCLA after defeating UNI.

The Huskers also worked their way to an 80-74 win over the Panthers at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico (Nov. 24, 2001), in the only other neutral site meeting between the two teams.

Nebraska is 2-1 all-time against UNI in Lincoln, including an 87-56 win at the Devaney Center on Dec. 18, 1994.

The Huskers are 2-0 against the Panthers in Cedar Falls, including a 71-56 victory (Dec. 14, 1990) and a 79-65 win (Dec. 28, 1993).

This preview is courtesy of Husker Athletics.