Huskers Shoot Past Spartans
San Jose, Calif. - Maddie Simon scored a career-high 20 points to lead a balanced Nebraska attack, as the Huskers rolled to a 81-55 women's basketball victory over San Jose State at the Event Center on Sunday afternoon.
Nebraska notched its fourth straight win overall to improve to 8-3 on the season. The Huskers also recorded their fourth consecutive road victory after going winless away from home last season. The Huskers completed a three-game non-conference road stretch with a perfect 3-0 record to post a perfect record in true road non-conference games for the first time since 2009-10. That season, Nebraska went 29-0 in the regular season, won the Big 12 Conference title and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. San Jose State slipped to 2-8 on the year.
Simon, a 6-2 junior forward from Lincoln, Neb., was outstanding from start to finish. She hit 9-of-13 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 three-pointers, while adding three rebounds, an assist and two steals in 24 minutes.
Sophomore Nicea Eliely added 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting including Nebraska's first three-pointer, while adding five boards, a block and two more steals. Eliely and Simon helped the Huskers outscore the Spartans 22-0 in points off turnovers in the game.
Freshman Kate Cain gave the Big Red three players in double figures with 10 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots, an assist and a steal in just 20 minutes. Cain hit 5-of-8 shots from the field to help the Huskers outscore the Spartans 48-10 in the paint and 19-6 in second-chance points.
Sophomore Grace Mitchell contributed nine points and five rebounds off the bench, while fellow sophomore Hannah Whitish contributed eight points, six rebounds and a game-high seven assists. Whitish also quarterbacked a Husker offense that committed a season-low six turnovers against an aggressive Spartan defense that ranked among national leaders in forcing turnovers coming into the contest.
Senior Emily Wood pitched in seven points and a career-high eight rebounds, as the Huskers outworked the Spartans on the glass, 52-41. Junior Darrien Washington also contributed five points and four rebounds, as 10 Huskers scored at least three points and grabbed at least three rebounds in the game.
For the game, Nebraska hit 40.2 percent (33-82) of its shots, including 7-of-26 threes (.269). The Huskers also hit 8-of-13 free throws while forcing 19 turnovers by the Spartans.
Defensively, the Big Red held San Jose State to just 32.1 percent (17-53) shooting, including just 4-of-19 (.211) three-pointers. The Spartans did connect on 17-of-25 free throws.
Myzhanique Ladd led San Jose State with 12 points and five rebounds, while Fieme'a Hafoka added a career-high 12 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Cydni Lewis nearly notched a double-double with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Spartans. Lewis scored the first seven points of the game for San Jose State.
After leading 39-25 at the half, the Huskers put the Spartans away with an explosive third quarter to build a 64-39 lead heading to the fourth period. NU outscored San Jose State 25-14 in the quarter, led by eight points from Whitish in the first 5:21 of the quarter. Whitish hit two of Nebraska's four threes in the quarter after the Huskers went just 2-for-13 from long range in the first half.
Simon played one of the best halves of her career by putting up 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting while adding three first-half rebounds. Simon scored six straight points midway through the second quarter, starting with her steal at halfcourt and run for a layup. She scored on another layup 37 seconds later to push Nebraska to its biggest lead at the time at 28-16, after leading 17-14 at the end of the first quarter.
San Jose State found an answer to Nebraska's 7-0 run with back-to-back threes in a 45-second span, but the Big Red got another 7-0 run, starting with Simon's bucket at the five-minute mark, before the third putback of the game by Cain and a traditional three-point play by Eliely.
Nebraska took its biggest lead at 39-24 on an outstanding transition layup by Eliely after a great pass from Simon with 25 seconds in the half, before taking a 39-25 edge to the locker room. Eliely finished the half with eight points.
The Huskers led by 14 points despite no points from Whitish, who went 0-for-8 from the field, including 0-for-6 from three-point range. However, Whitish played a strong floor game in the half, dishing out six assists, while adding four rebounds.
As a team, the Huskers hit just 40.9 percent (18-44) of their first-half shots, including just 2-of-13 threes, while going 1-for-3 at the free throw line. Nebraska dominated the glass, 29-22, in the half while outscoring San Jose State 14-0 on second-chance points in the half. The Huskers also won the points off turnovers in the first half 11-0, forcing 11 turnovers while committing just four of their own in the half.
Nebraska's stingy defense held the high-scoring Spartans to just 25 points on 31 percent (9-29) shooting, including 3-of-10 threes. The Spartans hit 4-of-8 free throws. Cydni Lewis led San Jose State with seven first-half points - the first seven of the game for the Spartans.
Nebraska will have a quick turnaround before returning home to take on Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. Tip-off between the Huskers and the Owls is set for 7 p.m., with tickets available now at Huskers.com.