Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Tuesday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Live Video: BTN Plus Student U
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln - B107.3 FM, Omaha - ESPN 590 AM
Free Live Audio: Huskers.com/Huskers App/TuneIn App
Huskers Hope to Slay Scarlet Knights Tuesday
The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns home Tuesday to take on Rutgers. Tip-off between the Huskers (4-12, 0-4 Big Ten) and the Scarlet Knights (5-12, 2-2 Big Ten) is set for 7 p.m. (CT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Tickets are available now at Huskers.com and the Pinnacle Bank Arena Box Office will be open for ticket sales beginning 90 minutes prior to tip-off on Tuesday.
A live radio broadcast will be produced by the Husker Sports Network. Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch will call the action on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and ESPN 590 AM in Omaha. Free audio also can be found on Huskers.com, the Huskers App and the TuneIn App. A live video stream will be available to premium subscribers of BTN Plus as part of the Student U telecasts, with Matt Rigby and Morgan Mueller calling the action.
An inexperienced team of Huskers and a group of first-year coaches led by former Nebraska player Amy Williams has been challenged by the toughest schedule in school history through the first 16 games this season. Through Sunday’s games, Nebraska’s opponents carry a combined .701 winning percentage. In fact, 13 of Nebraska’s 16 opponents already have accumulated double-digit wins this season, led by 15-0 Virginia Tech and 14-0 UConn.
The Huskers, who own victories over 11-win teams from Colorado State (11-5) and UTRGV (12-6), will be playing just their second game of the season against a team with a losing record when they face Rutgers (5-12). The only other team Nebraska has played this season that is currently below .500 is San Jose State (4-11).
Nebraska and Rutgers are two of the most inexperienced teams in the Big Ten this season. The active Husker roster has combined for 145 career starts, while the Rutgers active roster has started just 105 career games, including 85 this season.
Nebraska is led by 6-4 sophomore forward Jessica Shepard, who is averaging a double-double with 18.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. A first-team All-Big Ten performer as the conference’s freshman of the year in 2015-16, Shepard averaged 22.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as the Huskers split a pair of regular-season meetings with the Scarlet Knights last season. She managed just four points and three rebounds while battling injury in a Big Ten Tournament loss to Rutgers on March 3, 2016.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-12, 0-4 Big Ten)
32 - Jessica Shepard - 6-4 - So. - F - 18.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg
22 - Allie Havers - 6-5 - Sr. - C - 6.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 6.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 8.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 6.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Off the Bench
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - So. - G - 4.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg
11 - Esther Ramacieri - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
12 - Emily Wood - 5-5 - Jr. - G - 2.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg
50 - Darrien Washington - 6-2 - So. - F - 2.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg
2 - Rylie Cascio Jensen - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 2.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Fr. - F/G - 2.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
First Season at Nebraska (4-12); 10th Season Overall (197-121)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-12, 2-2 Big Ten)
32 - Desiree Keeling - 6-2 - So. - C/F - 6.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg
5 - Shrita Parker - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 10.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg
11 - Aliyah Jeune - 6-1 - So. - G/F - 7.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg
12 - Khadaizha Sanders - 5-7 - So. - G - 7.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg
22 - Kandiss Barber - 5-10 - Jr. - F/G - 9.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Off the Bench
40 - Victoria Harris - 6-3 - So. - C/F - 4.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg
1 - Jazlynd Rollins - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 2.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg
4 - Kate Hill - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 2.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg
44 - Jordan Wallace - 6-3 - Fr. - C - 1.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg
33 - Alex Alfano - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg
Head Coach: C. Vivian Stringer (Slippery Rock, 1971)
22nd Season at Rutgers (456-243); 46th Season Overall (976-378)
• Naismith Hall of Fame Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer brings Rutgers to Lincoln in search of its third win in the last four games. The Scarlet Knights, who lost four starters off last season’s team that finished 19-15 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten, went just 3-10 in non-conference play before losing their Big Ten opener to Michigan, 63-50, on Dec. 28.
• Following the loss to the Wolverines, Rutgers reeled off back-to-back wins against Penn State (61-45) and Wisconsin (68-52) before suffering a 78-41 loss at Illinois on Saturday.
• The loss to the Fighting Illini stretched the Rutgers road losing streak to eight games this season.
• Rutgers, which has struggled to score throughout the season, averaging just 50.2 points per game, has managed just 45.8 points per game on the road. The Scarlet Knights, who have always been known for playing a suffocating defense under Stringer, have surrendered just 59.2 points per game on the season, but that number increases to 63.3 points per contest on the road.
• At the RAC, Rutgers has averaged 54.1 points per game, while allowing 55.7 points per contest.
• Playing on their homecourt at the RAC in Piscataway seems to be worth about 16 points per game to the Scarlet Knights (+8.3 scoring, +7.6 scoring defense).
• At home, Rutgers is hitting 33.8 percent (44-130) of its three-point attempts while struggling to hit just 20.7 percent (25-121) of its long range attempts on the road. The Scarlet Knights went just 1-of-15 from three-point range at Illinois on Saturday, while the Fighting Illinois connected on 12-of-21 threes.
• In Big Ten play, Rutgers has knocked down a sizzling 50 percent (18-36) of its three-point attempts at the RAC, but is just 5-for-32 (.156) from beyond the arc away from home.
• Shrita Parker, a 5-7 junior guard is the only returning starter and the only player averaging in double figures for the Scarlet Knights. She has managed 10.1 points, while adding 2.5 assists per games. The last time the Huskers saw Parker, she came off the bench to score 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting in Rutgers’ 66-63 win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis on March 3. She also played a major role with 14 points off the bench in a 66-56 Rutgers win over the Huskers in Piscataway on Jan. 30, 2016. Parker had 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting while playing the full 40 minutes at Illinois on Saturday.
• Kandiss Barber, a 5-10 junior transfer from Southern Idaho, has added 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds while making 13 starts. Barber is 2-of-3 from three-point range but a staggering 23-of-58 (.397) from the free throw line. She had 11 points and seven rebounds at Illinois.
• Khadaizha Sanders, a 5-7 sophomore, is the only Scarlet Knight to start all 17 games this season. She is averaging 7.9 points to go along with team highs of 4.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Sanders (32-36, .889) joins Parker (34-37, .919) in combining to hit 66-of-73 free throws (.904) so far this season. Sanders scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting at Illinois on Saturday.
•Aliyah Jeune, a 6-1 sophomore guard/forward has contributed 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds, while leading the Scarlet Knights with 22 three-pointers. She also ranks second on the team with 34 steals. She was held scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting at Illinois.
•Desiree Keeling, a 6-2 sophomore post has produced 6.9 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds per game, while leading Rutgers with 30 blocked shots. Keeling just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds at Illinois.
• Victoria Harris adds more size and production off the bench, averaging 4.1 points and 5.2 rebounds to go with 23 blocks. A 6-3 sophomore, Harris is the only Scarlet Knight shooting better than 50 percent (30-59, .508) from the floor. Harris made five starts early in the season for Rutgers.
• Jazlynd Rollins, a 5-7 junior (2.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg), and Kate Hill, a 5-7 freshman (2.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg) also earned three starts apiece for Rutgers early in the season. Jordan Wallace (1.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg) and Alex Alfano round out the list of contributors for the Scarlet Knights.
• As a team, Rutgers is hitting just 35.6 percent of its shots from the field, including a dismal 27.5 percent (69-251) from three-point range. The Scarlet Knights are also hitting just 66.7 percent (124-186) of their free throws as the eight active players other than Parker and Sanders have combined to go just 58-of-113 (.513) at the stripe.
•Rutgers has been outrebounded 39.1-33.8 and own a negative-0.8 team turnover margin. However, in four Big Ten games, Rutgers owns a plus-3.0 turnover margin but has been outrebounded, 38.5-28.5.
Nebraska vs. Rutgers Series History
•Rutgers leads the all-time series with Nebraska 3-1, with all four meetings coming as Big Ten foes in the past two seasons. Last season, the Huskers battled to a 65-54 win over the Scarlet Knights in Lincoln on Jan. 16, 2016, in the only previous meeting at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer did not attend that game as she tended to an ailing family member.
•Rutgers bounced back two weeks later at the RAC in Piscataway, defeating the Huskers 66-56 thanks to 14 points off the bench from Shrita Parker. The only other current Scarlet Knight to score in that game was Desiree Keeling (2 points, 6 minutes).
•In the 2016 Big Ten Tournament, Rutgers rallied from a late fourth-quarter deficit to win 66-63. Again, it was Parker that did the most damage with 18 points off the bench. Current Scarlet Knights Victoria Harris (4 points, 13 minutes) and Khadaizha Sanders (3 points, 11 minutes) also helped Rutgers to victory.
•In Nebraska’s regular-season wins last season, Jessica Shepard averaged 22.5 points and 6.0 rebounds against an extremely experienced and deep inside game for the Scarlet Knights. She struggled with a stress reaction at the Big Ten Tournament and scored just four points on 1-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes. Allie Havers had just two points in each regular-season meeting, but posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards against Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament.
Rutgers’ Stringer Caps Astounding Six-Game Stretch of Opposing Coaches
•Naismith Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer (976) caps an extraordinary string of historically successful coaches the Huskers have faced in midseason. Stringer, who is in her 46th season as a head coach and 22nd season at Rutgers, has amassed 976 wins in her career. Stringer is the fourth opposing head coach in Nebraska’s last six games to amass more than 650 victories in more than 30 seasons on the sideline.
•Nebraska’s six-game stretch against highly successful coaches began with the legendary Geno Auriemma, who owns 969 wins in his 32 seasons at UConn. Auriemma brought his No. 1 and four-time defending Huskies to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Dec. 21.
•Northwestern Coach Joe McKeown (651 wins, 31 seasons) followed in Lincoln, before the Huskers hit the road to face Iowa and Coach Lisa Bluder (689 wins, 33 seasons) on Dec. 31.
•Maryland Coach Brenda Frese (443 wins) and Michigan State Coach Suzy Merchant (417) gave Nebraska a stretch of six consecutive games against opposing head coaches with more than 400 victories apiece.
•Overall, the six coaches have amassed 4,145 wins in 182 seasons as head coaches.
• Jessica Shepard leads the Huskers with averages of 18.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. She produced her 18th career double-double 15 points and 12 rebounds at Michigan State (Jan. 7). Her double-double tied her for ninth on Nebraska’s career double-doubles list with 1998 All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge (18, 1995-98).
• Shepard owns eight double-doubles this season, including a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds against San Jose State (Dec. 9). She had 23 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Drake (Dec. 6), 25 points and 14 rebounds at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1), 24 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Colorado State (Nov. 17), 22 points and 13 rebounds at Creighton (Dec. 18), 17 points and 15 rebounds in a win over UTRGV (Nov. 12) and 15 points and 12 rebounds at Michigan State (Jan. 7).
• Shepard owns seven 20-point scoring efforts through 15 games, including season highs of 28 points at Iowa (Dec. 31) and against San Jose State (Dec. 9). She owns 23 career 20-plus scoring games in 47 career contests.
• Shepard ranks second among the Huskers in three-point field goals made (18), including a game-clinching three with one minute left in the win over Colorado State on Nov. 14, and a 60-foot heave at the first-half buzzer in the win over UTRGV on Nov. 12. She also beat the first-half buzzer with a three at Creighton (Dec. 18).
• Nebraska freshman Nicea Eliely leads the Huskers in assists (2.8 apg), steals (1.7 spg), blocks (0.8 bpg) and field goal percentage (.490), while ranking second on the team in scoring (8.0 ppg) and three-point field goal percentage (.414), and third in rebounding (4.3 rpg). Eliely has started all 16 games this season as a true freshman.
• Freshman Hannah Whitish is averaging 10.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals in four Big Ten games as a starter for the Huskers. Whitish also leads the Huskers with 22 three-pointers on the season.
Huskers Establishing Solid Starting Five
• One of Coach Amy Williams’ primary objectives early in the season was to find a starting five from a relatively inexperienced group of Huskers. Only seven players on Nebraska’s active roster have ever started a game for the Huskers, with five of them starting 25 or fewer contests.
• Although Jessica Shepard is just a sophomore, she owns a team-high 45 career starts, including 29 in 31 games as a freshman.
• A three-year contributor on the court, 6-5 senior Allie Havers adds 37 career starts to Nebraska’s level of experience in 2016-17.
• Only three other returning Huskers had ever started a game for Nebraska before this season, including Jasmine Cincore (22 career), Esther Ramacieri (16) and Maddie Simon (5), while true freshmen Nicea Eliely (16) and Hannah Whitish (4) have made their first career starts this season.
• Overall, Nebraska owns just 145 career starts. However, Rutgers is even more inexperienced than the Huskers, carrying just 105 career starts including 85 this season.
• Nebraska sent nine different starting lineups onto the floor in 2015-16.
• The longest stretch Nebraska was able to play with a consistent starting five in 2015-16 was eight games (Game 2 vs. North Florida, Nov. 16 - Game 9 at California, Dec. 12).
• Three times (2003-04, 2006-07, 2011-12) in the last 14 seasons, Nebraska’s starting five has hit the floor for every game together, and five more times the Huskers have only featured six different starters in a season (2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14).
Nebraska Ranks Near Top in Attendance
• Nebraska closed the 2015-16 season ranked No. 9 nationally in total attendance (102,682) and No. 12 in NCAA Division I in average home attendance (5,404). It marked the third consecutive season inside Pinnacle Bank Arena that the Big Red have ranked among the top 12 nationally in both categories.
• In 62 all-time home games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Huskers own a 47-15 record (.758 winning percentage) while averaging 5,673 fans per game (351,719 total fans/62 games).
• Nebraska attracted a non-conference school-record crowd of 9,750 to open its stay in the building with a win over UCLA on Nov. 8, 2013.
Big Red Battling One of Nation’s Best Schedules
• Nebraska is facing the toughest overall schedule in school history in 2016-17. The Huskers will play 10 games against NCAA Tournament teams and 11 more regular-season games against Postseason WNIT teams in 2016-17.
• Nebraska’s strength of schedule ranked No. 6 nationally. Through games Jan. 7, Nebraska’s 16 opponents owned a cumulative record of 178-76 (.701 winning percentage), including unbeaten records for No. 1 UConn (14-0) and No. 15 Virginia Tech (15-0).
• Michigan State (12-4) was Nebraska’s 13th opponent that already owns double-digit wins this season, and the seventh team with 12 or more victories. No. 15 Virginia Tech (15-0), No. 3 Maryland (15-1), No. 1 UConn (14-0), No. 24 California (13-3), Northwestern (13-4), Michigan State (12-4) and UTRGV (12-6) each carried at least 12 wins after Sunday’s games. Drake (11-4), Colorado State (11-5), Virginia (11-5), Missouri (11-6), Creighton (10-5) and Iowa (10-6) are Husker opponents that all own at least 10 wins.
• Nebraska’s non-conference Strength of Schedule was ranked No. 8 by the NCAA (Jan. 1). NU’s non-conference schedule strength trailed only Minnesota in the Big Ten. Nebraska, Minnesota and Rutgers were the only three Big Ten teams to enter conference play with a top-25 strength of schedule. Six Big Ten teams entered league play with strength of schedules below 100, including Purdue (204), Maryland (203), Indiana (176), Northwestern (167), Ohio State (155) and Wisconsin (114).
• Nebraska’s appearance in the 2016 Preseason WNIT to open the year featured three games against postseason foes, including NCAA Tournament teams Missouri and Colorado State.
• Virginia, Virginia Tech, Drake and Creighton all competed in the 2016 WNIT and the Huskers will play three of those games on the road. Nebraska closes non-conference play at home against UConn, which has won four consecutive NCAA titles.
• A total of 13 of Nebraska’s 16 Big Ten Conference games will come against postseason foes, including seven games against NCAA qualifiers and six more against WNIT teams from a year ago.
• Nebraska’s 16-game regular-season home schedule will feature 13 games against postseason teams, including all eight Big Ten Conference home games.
• Nebraska senior Allie Havers has competed in 112 consecutive games since the first game of her freshman season in 2013-14. The Huskers own a 69-43 record in those contests over the last four years.
• Junior Jasmine Cincore owns the longest streak of consecutive starts among the Huskers with 21. Havers has made 19 straight starts, while freshman Nicea Eliely and sophomore Jessica Shepard have each started 16 straight games this season. Hannah Whitish has made four straight starts.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 267 straight regular-season games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008.
• Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 146 consecutive games.
• Nebraska has had at least two players earn first- or second-team All-Big Ten honors in each of its first five seasons in the Big Ten.
• Nebraska finished with a 9-9 Big Ten record to mark the fifth consecutive season the Huskers have posted a .500 or better Big Ten record. Nebraska is the only Big Ten team with a .500 or better record in each of the last five seasons. In fact, no other Big Ten team has had four straight .500 marks. The only other team with three straight .500 or better Big Ten seasons is Minnesota, which went 11-7 in both 2015 and 2016 after going 8-8 in 2014.
Pump Up the Program
• Nebraska earned its fifth straight postseason tournament bid with a trip to the 2016 WNIT. The Huskers were one of only 21 Division I teams to earn four consecutive NCAA Tournament bids from 2012 through 2015.
• The Huskers have produced seven 20-win seasons in the last 10 years. Nebraska owns 16 20-win seasons in program history.
• Nebraska is the only team in the Big Ten to post a .500 or better conference mark in each of the last five years. Minnesota is the only other Big Ten team to do it each of the last three seasons.
• The Huskers, who joined the Big Ten in 2011-12, have averaged 10.6 conference wins per season since joining the conference. The Big Red have added eight Big Ten Tournament wins for 61 total victories over Big Ten foes during the past five years (12.2 wins per season).
• Nebraska has ranked among the top 12 schools nationally in average home attendance in each of the Huskers’ first three seasons at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Big Red have ranked among the top 10 nationally in total home attendance in each of the first three seasons at the arena, including 102,682 fans in 2015-16.
• Nebraska set a season ticket sales record with 4,032 season tickets sold as of Jan. 31, 2016. It marked the first time in school history the Huskers sold 4,000 season tickets. Nebraska’s season ticket number for 2016-17 was 3,980 as of Dec. 21, 2016.
• Nebraska featured six first-team academic All-Big Ten selections in 2015-16, including returning Huskers Jasmine Cincore, Allie Havers and Emily Wood.
Shepard Shoots For More as Sophomore
• Jessica Shepard has her sophomore season off to a strong start averaging 18.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. She has produced eight double-doubles, including two in Big Ten play with 15 points and 12 rebounds at Michigan State (Jan. 7) to go along with 17 points and 15 rebounds in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener against Northwestern (Dec. 28). She had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Creighton (Dec. 18). That followed a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds against San Jose State (Dec. 9), 23 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Drake (Dec. 6), 25 points and 14 rebounds at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1), 24 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Colorado State (Nov. 17), and 17 points and 15 boards in a win over UTRGV (Nov. 12).
• Shepard owns 18 career double-doubles to tie for ninth on Nebraska’s career chart in that category. Her next double-double will move her into a tie for ninth at Nebraska with All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge, who had 18 double-doubles for the Huskers from 1995 to 1998.
• Shepard has seven 20-point efforts this season, including a season-high 28 points in the win over San Jose State (Dec. 9). She matched her season high with 28 points to go along with eight rebounds at Iowa (Dec. 31). She had 25 points at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1) and against Washington State (Nov. 25). She scored 24 points against Colorado State (Nov. 17), before going for 23 points, including 22 in the second half, against Drake (Dec. 6). Shepard owns 22 career 20-point games in her first 47 games as a Husker.
• Shepard ranks second among the Huskers with 18 three-pointers on the season, including a game-clinching three in the win over Colorado State and a buzzer-beating 60-footer to close the first half in the win over UTRGV. She also hit a first-half buzzer-beater at Creighton. Shepard did not hit a three-pointer as a freshman.
• Nebraska’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Shepard became the first Husker in history to earn first-team all-conference honors as a freshman in 2015-16. During the season, she set a conference record by winning 10 Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week awards. She was also a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week (Dec. 21, Jan. 25).
• One of only two freshmen on the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 in 2015-16 (joining Cal’s Kristine Anigwe), Shepard was the USBWA National Freshman of the Week (Dec. 22, 2015; Jan. 26, 2016). Shepard was the espnW and College Sports Madness National Player of the Week (Jan. 25).
• Shepard finished 10th overall in the Big Ten in scoring (18.5 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (8.6 rpg), including fourth on the offensive glass (3.1 rpg) and 10th on the defensive boards (5.5 rpg). She ranked 13th in conference field goal percentage (.510).
• The 6-4 forward from Fremont, Neb., finished with Nebraska freshman record averages of 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Her 574 total points were a Nebraska freshman record, while her 266 rebounds ranked second among freshmen in Husker history.
• She amassed 16 games with 20 or more points as a freshman, including 11 in Big Ten play. She produced the first of two 35-point performances against Northern Arizona Dec. 19, 2015. She added 35 points at Michigan, Jan. 24. She scored in double figures 25 times.
• Shepard averaged just 4.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in 20 minutes per game over the final two games of 2015-16 as she battled a stress reaction in her foot. She did not practice March 1-17.
• Shepard was not cleared for her first full practice until Oct. 27, 2015, after suffering an ACL tear as a high school senior on Dec. 29, 2014. On Nov. 1, she had 29 points and 12 rebounds against Nebraska-Kearney in NU’s exhibition opener. She added 42 points and 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes in a second exhibition against Winona State on Nov. 8.
• She was the top recruit in Nebraska history, as the No. 1 post and No. 3 overall recruit in the nation by ESPN. A first-team Parade All-American as a high school senior despite missing nearly all of her final year (ACL tear, Dec. 29, 2014), Shepard was the 2013 and 2014 Nebraska High School Player of the Year. Shepard averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 rebounds while helping the USA Basketball U18 Team to a 5-0 record and a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas Championship.
Freshmen Contributing Early
• Nebraska’s four-player freshman class of Rylie Cascio Jensen, Nicea Eliely, Grace Mitchell and Hannah Whitish have been looked to for immediate contributions on the Huskers’ 11-player active roster.
Nicea Eliely, 6-1, Guard, Colorado Springs, Colo.
• Eliely, a 6-1 guard out of Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, has started all 16 games and is averaging 8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
• Eliely produced a career-high 19-point performance in a loss to California on Dec. 4. She hit 8-of-13 shots from the field including 2-of-3 three-pointers against the Bears. She added two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
• She added her second career double-figure scoring effort with 13 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in a win over San Jose State on Dec. 9. She hit 6-of-9 shots from the field against the Spartans.
• Eliely contributed her third double-figure performance with 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals at Iowa on Dec. 31.
• In her Big Ten debut against Northwestern (Dec. 28), Eliely finished with seven points, seven rebounds, and team highs of five assists, two blocks and two steals.
• She earned her first career start in Nebraska’s season-opening win over UTRGV on Nov. 12. Eliely performed well with nine points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals against the Vaqueros, while also drawing the primary defensive assignment on 2016 WAC Player-of-the-Year Shawnte’ Goff.
• Eliely played Nebraska’s best all-around game in the loss to No. 25 Missouri on Nov. 14. She finished with eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal against the Tigers. She also hit her first career three-pointer against the Tigers.
• She was even better in Nebraska’s win over Colorado State, contributing six points, six rebounds and a career-high six assists to go along with three steals. She also helped frustrate and foul out 2016 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Ellen Nystrom.
• She had one of Nebraska’s best all-around games with seven points, five rebounds, four assists and a block in the loss to No. 1 UConn on Dec. 21.
• Eliely added nine points, six rebounds, two assists and a career-high four steals in Nebraska’s win over Omaha on Nov. 22. She scored nine more points while adding three rebounds, a block and a steal at Virginia Tech on Dec. 1.
• Eliely was a Colorado Class 5A performer as a senior in 2015-16. Ranked as the No. 25 guard in the nation by ESPN and the No. 143 player in the nation by Blue Star, Eliely averaged 21.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.4 steals and 2.0 blocks per game as a senior for the Rams.
Hannah Whitish, 5-9, Guard, Barneveld, Wis.
• Whitish, a 5-9 guard from Barneveld, Wis., was the Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.5 steals as a senior. The five-time first-team All-Wisconsin selection led Barneveld High School to four consecutive state championship game appearances including a pair of state titles. She led her team to a 110-4 record in her career, while ranking among the top 10 in Wisconsin High School history in career points with well over 2,000.
• Whitish was Nebraska’s top contributor off the bench in non-conference play before making her first career start in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener with Northwestern (Dec. 28). Whitish, who started in place of injured senior Esther Ramacieri against the Wildcats, scored a then-career-high 12 points and added four assists in a then-career-high 27 minutes against Northwestern.
• She added a career-high 14 points in 28 minutes while adding four rebounds, a team-high four assists and two steals in a start at Iowa (Dec. 31). She tied a career high with a trio of three-pointers against the Hawkeyes.
• Whitish matched her career high with 14 points in a career-high 29 minutes at Michigan State (Jan. 7). She added two rebounds, two assists and a career-high three steals.
• As a starter, Whitish is averaging 10.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
• Through 16 games, Whitish is averaging 6.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 19.5 minutes per contest. Whitish also leads the Huskers with 22 three-pointers this season (22-63, .349).
• Whitish owns five double-figure scoring efforts this season.
• She played arguably Nebraska’s best individual game with nine points on a career-high three three-pointers, while adding two rebounds, two assists, no turnovers and a steal in 19 minutes against No. 1 UConn on Dec. 21.
• In her Husker debut, Whitish scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting with a three-pointer, while adding two assists, one steal and no turnovers in the win over UTRGV on Nov. 12.
• Whitish played a huge role in Nebraska’s win over Colorado State, finishing with her first career double-figure scoring performance. Her 10-point effort in the win over the Rams included a career-high three three-pointers with the final triple coming on a cast from the deep left wing with one second on the shot clock to give Nebraska a 58-55 lead with 1:48 left. She added a free throw with 18 seconds left to seal the 62-59 win.
• Whitish added her second straight double-figure scoring performance with 10 points and career highs of five assists and two steals in Nebraska’s win over Omaha on Nov. 22.
Rylie Cascio Jensen, 5-10, Guard, Fremont, Neb.
• Cascio Jensen, a 5-10 guard from Fremont High School, was the 2016 Nebraska High School Player of the Year. She averaged 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game for the Tigers.
• She is averaging 2.3 points and 1.6 assists in 13.7 minutes per game this season.
• Cascio Jensen had season highs with six points and two three-pointers in wins over both Omaha (Nov. 22) and San Jose State (Dec. 9).
• She added five points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal against No. 3 Maryland on Jan. 4.
Grace Mitchell, 6-2, Forward/Guard, Wellington, Kan.
• Mitchell, a 6-2 forward/guard, was the Kansas Player of the Year as selected by USA Today High School Sports. She averaged 21.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks as a senior at Wellington High School. She also hit 48 percent of her three-pointers while setting a single-season school record with 533 points on her way to Kansas Class 4A Player-of-the-Year honors. She was ranked as the nation’s No. 51 wing by ESPN.
• Mitchell has averaged 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game this season. She produced a career-high seven-point effort against Drake on Dec. 6. Mitchell scored five points and had the first two steals of her career during a 15-5 Husker surge in the second quarter that helped send the Big Red to halftime with a 33-32 lead over the Bulldogs.
• She played well off the bench with five points on 2-of-2 shooting, including a three-pointer, while adding three rebounds against No. 1 UConn on Dec. 21.
• Mitchell added five points on 2-of-3 shooting and another three, while grabbing two rebounds and a steal against No. 3 Maryland on Jan. 4.
• Mitchell hit the first three-pointer of her career in the second quarter against Drake.
• She scored two points and grabbed two rebounds off the bench in her Husker debut against UTRGV, and added an important putback in Nebraska’s 62-59 win over Colorado State on Nov. 17.
Nebraska’s History of Home Success
• Nebraska opened 2016-17 with a 71-53 win over UTRGV for its 11th consecutive season-opening win at home. The Huskers went 15-4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2015-16 after going 12-3 (13-3 at home) in 2014-15. The Huskers are 47-15 (.758) all-time at Pinnacle Bank Arena since the building opened for the 2013-14 campaign. The Big Red went 16-2 at home in 2013-14, suffering their only Big Ten loss to Purdue, 77-75, on Jan. 19, 2014. Nebraska’s 16 home wins in 2013-14 tied the school record for single-season home victories.
• The Huskers played the first regular-season game in the history of the arena against USA Today No. 25 UCLA (Nov. 8, 2013) and rolled to a 77-49 win over the Bruins. NU’s first win over an AP Top 25 team came with a 76-56 win over No. 24 Michigan State on Feb. 8, 2014. The Huskers added their first-ever win over an AP Top 10 team at the arena with a 94-74 victory over No. 8 Penn State on Feb. 24, 2014
• NU won its first-ever Big Ten home game at Pinnacle Bank Arena with a 66-65 thriller over Northwestern Jan. 2, 2014, before an 88-85 win over Minnesota on Jan. 16, 2014, marked the first overtime game.
• NU suffered its first loss at the arena to Washington State (76-72) on Nov. 30, 2013.
• The Huskers are 436-145 (.750) all-time at home. The Huskers have gone 172-49 (.778) over the last 14 seasons, posting double-figure home victory totals in each of the last 13 years.
• Nebraska played in the Devaney Center from 1976-77 through 2012-13, and added one appearance at Devaney against Utah on Nov. 23, 2014. The Huskers own a 389-130 record at the Devaney Center, including 146-88 (.624) mark in conference play.