Huskers Shoot for Big 12 History at K-State
#3 Nebraska Cornhuskers (28-0, 15-0 Big 12)
at Kansas State Wildcats (13-16, 5-10 Big 12)
Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) • Manhattan, Kan.
Saturday, March 6 • Noon
Radio: Husker Sports Network
(98.1 FM-KFGE-Lincoln, 93.3 FM-KTWI Omaha, 880 AM-KRVN Lexington)
Free Live Audio: Huskers.com (Free)
Live Internet Video: HuskersNside (premium subscribers - from Kansas State)
No. 3 Nebraska takes aim at Big 12 history on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., when the Huskers shoot for a season sweep of Kansas State and a perfect regular-season record.
Tip-off between the Big 12 regular-season champion Huskers (28-0, 15-0 Big 12) and Wildcats (13-16, 5-10 Big 12) is set for noon at Bramlage Coliseum, with live radio coverage by the Husker Sports Network on Froggy 98.1 KFGE in Lincoln, Twister 93.3 KTWI in Omaha and 880 KRVN in Lexington. Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch will have the call for free world-wide on Huskers.com. A live video stream will also be available to premium subscribers of HuskersNside, produced by k-statesports.com.
Nebraska will try to become the first team in Big 12 history to close a regular season undefeated, while joining the 2005-06 Oklahoma Sooners as the only teams to go a perfect 16-0 in the nation's toughest RPI conference. The Huskers will also look to extend their school-record 28-game winning streak, 17-game regular-season Big 12 winning streak and 12-game road winning streak.
Big 12 and National Player-of-the-Year candidate Kelsey Griffin leads the Huskers in their pursuit of history. The 6-2 senior forward from Eagle River, Alaska, ranks second in the Big 12 with 19.8 points per game, while leading the league with 10.5 rebounds per contest. Griffin's numbers are even better in Big 12 play with 20.4 points and 10.9 boards per contest. Griffin is expected to tie Nebraska's school record with her 122nd career start Saturday.
She is joined inside by fellow senior Cory Montgomery, who has averaged 13.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. The 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., recently joined Griffin as one of just nine players in school history with 1,300 points and 500 career rebounds. Montgomery will move into a tie for fourth all-time at Nebraska by playing in her 125th career game on Saturday.
Senior Yvonne Turner and junior Dominique Kelley join Griffin and Montgomery as All-Big 12 candidates. Turner, a three-year starter who will be playing in her 120th game, has averaged 14.3 points and a Big 12-best 2.9 threes per game in conference action, while ranking second in Big 12 play with 2.3 steals per game. Kelley has added 12.4 points and 4.1 boards per contest in league play, as the Big Red's "Big Four" each average more than 12 points per game.
Big 12 All-Freshman candidate Lindsey Moore rounds out the talented Nebraska starting five. The 5-9 point guard from Covington, Wash., is averaging 9.6 points per game over the past five contests, while ranking among the top five players in the league in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio in Big 12 action.
Nebraska's bench is also one of the deepest in the league, featuring 2008-09 starter Catheryn Redmon (4.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg) and seniors Kala Kuhlmann (3.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg) and Nicole Neals (2.9 ppg, 0.9 rpg).
#3 Nebraska Cornhuskers (28-0, 15-0) Probable Starters
23 - Kelsey Griffin - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 19.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg
40 - Cory Montgomery - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 13.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
00 - Lindsey Moore - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 5.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg
22 - Yvonne Turner - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 12.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg
24 - Dominique Kelley - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 12.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
The Next Wave
44 - Catheryn Redmon - 6-3 - Jr. - C - 4.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg
13 - Kala Kuhlmann - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 3.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
11 - Nicole Neals - 5-6 - Sr. - G - 2.9 ppg, 0.9 rpg
21 - Harleen Sidhu - 6-1 - So. - F - 2.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg
12 - Layne Reeves - 5-11 - RFr. - G - 1.3 ppg, 0.8 rpg
35 - Jessica Periago - 6-4 - Jr. - C - 1.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg
5 - Kaitlyn Burke - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 1.2 ppg, 0.5 rpg
20 - Katya Leick - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 1.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
10 - Meghin Williams - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 0.8 ppg, 0.7 rpg
42 - Nikki Bober - 6-4 - Sr. - C - Injured
Head Coach: Connie Yori (Creighton, 1986)
Eighth Season at NU (149-97); 20th Season Overall (344-237)
Kansas State Wildcats (13-16, 5-10 Big 12) Probable Starters
4 - Ashley Sweat - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 16.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg
33 - Jalana Childs - 6-2 - So. - F - 7.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg
2 - Brittany Chambers - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 12.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg
12 - Taelor Karr - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
41 - Kari Kincaid - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 8.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Off the Bench
34 - Branshea Brown - 6-2 - So. - F - 3.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
22 - Mariah White - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
23 - Shalin Spani (Out) - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg
32 - Alina Voronenko (Out) - 6-2 - So. - G/F - 1.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg
10 - Kelsey Hill (Out) - 5-7 - Jr. - G - DNP
Head Coach: Deb Patterson (Rockford College, 1979)
13th Season at KSU (253-154); 13th Season Overall (253-154)
Huskers Triple Their Pleasure With School-Record Streak
At 28-0, Nebraska owns the most wins in a season in school history (previously 23) while extending the longest winning streak in school history to 28 games, more than tripling a nine-game winning streak to open the 1996-97 campaign. Nebraska's 28-0 start is also the best start in Big 12 history, dating back to the inception of the league in 1996-97. The Huskers' 15-0 Big 12 start is their best league start in school history, tripling the 1987-88 Huskers who started 5-0 on their way to the Big Eight regular-season title. The 2010 Big 12 regular-season champion Huskers have also amassed their most conference wins in history.
Not only have the Huskers been winning, they have been doing it in impressive fashion, with 23 of their 28 victories by double digits, including 10 wins by 20 or more points and six wins by 39 or more. NU's lone single-digit wins came with an 82-78 win at Missouri on Feb. 13, a 76-71 victory at Miami on Dec. 5, a 67-60 win at Kansas on Feb. 10, an eight-point win at Iowa State on Jan. 9, and a nine-point victory at No. 9 Baylor. The Huskers have led 27 of their 28 opponents by double digits in the second half, with only Missouri avoiding a 10-point margin in Columbia.
Nebraska's streak is just the seventh of eight or more victories in school history. Three of Nebraska's eight-game winning streaks have come in Yori's eight seasons with the Huskers, including 2003-04 and 2005-06.
Huskers Add Women's Hoops to Big 12 Title Success
Nebraska secured its first-ever Big 12 title with a 16-point win at No. 11 Oklahoma on Feb. 24, and celebrated the championship by cutting down the nets in front of more than 13,000 Husker fans at the Devaney Center following a win over Missouri on Feb. 27.
Although it is the Huskers' first Big 12 women's basketball title, Nebraska is a regular in the Big 12 winner's circle. In fact, the crown was the school's 35th Big 12 women's title across all sports, and 55th overall. NU teams have also claimed 12 additional Big 12 tournament titles since the inception of the league in 1996-97.
The women's basketball program became the 13th NU sport to claim a Big 12 title, joining volleyball (10), men's indoor track (9), women's gymnastics (8), men's outdoor track (5), women's indoor track (5), soccer (3) baseball (3), softball (3), football (2), women's swimming and diving (2), women's outdoor track (2) and wrestling (1). Only Texas, which has won 78 titles across 17 sports, has captured more Big 12 hardware than Nebraska.
Griffin Rewriting Nebraska Free Throw Records
With a 4-for-4 night at the free throw line against Kansas on Wednesday, Kelsey Griffin completed her mastery of Nebraska's free throw record book.
Griffin's four made free throws pushed her ahead of Maurtice Ivy (153, 1984-85) for the most in a single season. Griffin has hit 155 this year in school-record 207 attempts.
Against Missouri on Feb. 27, Griffin broke the school record for free throws made in a game with 17, while tying her own school record with 18 attempts.
Not surprisingly, the Alaskan has shattered NU's career free throw records with 528 made and 730 attempted. Nicole Kubik held the previous career mark for makes (440) while Deb Powell owned the most attempts (644).
Griffin Closing in on School Record for Starts
Kelsey Griffin is expected to tie Nebraska's school record with 122nd career start Saturday at Kansas State.
The only player to start more games in a Nebraska uniform than Griffin is Janet Smith, who started 122 games from 1979 to 1982. Smith, an Omaha Burke graduate, appeared in a school-record 136 games during her four-year career, scoring 1,284 points while establishing school records with 1,280 rebounds and 238 blocked shots.
Montgomery Climbing NU Games Played List
While Kelsey Griffin could set the school record for games started, she ranks second in games played among current Huskers. The leader in that category is Cory Montgomery, who will be playing in her 125th career game on Saturday at Kansas State. The 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., is tied for fifth with Brooke Schwartz at 124, and will move into a tie for fourth with Nicole Kubik at 125. Janet Smith owns the NU record with 136 games played from 1979 to 1982.
Senior Class Has Shown Consistency for Huskers
Nebraska's senior class is not only the largest in school history, but the six Husker seniors have also teamed for more appearances than any senior class in school history.
Despite several season-ending injuries during their respective careers, including two season-ending knee injuries for senior center Nikki Bober, and a foot injury that kept Kelsey Griffin out of the entire 2008-09 campaign, the six seniors have combined for 652 games played.
Cory Montgomery leads the way with 124 appearances, and Griffin has played in 121 games. Yvonne Turner has competed in 120, while Nicole Neals has appeared in 116. Kala Kuhlmann has played 115 games, while Bober saw action in 56.
Prior to this season, only 23 players in the 35-year history of Nebraska women's basketball had played in 115 or more games in a Husker uniform.
The group has also achieved unprecedented success on the court over the past four seasons. The group has combined to average more than 21 wins per year, while leading the Huskers to four straight postseason appearances and their first-ever Big 12 regular-season title.
Griffin Bearing Down on 2,000 Points, 1,000 Rebounds
Kelsey Griffin has cemented her place among the best players in Nebraska women's basketball history, and recently became just the second player in school history with 1,900 points and 900 rebounds. Griffin enters Saturday's game at Kansas State with 1,903 points and 960 rebounds.
Griffin, who ranks second in NU history with 37 career double-doubles, joins 1993 Wade Trophy winner Karen Jennings (2,405 points, 1,000 rebounds) as the only Huskers to reach 1,900 points and 900 rebounds.
Griffin ranks third on Nebraska's career rebounding chart and needs 40 boards to catch Jennings at No. 2 with 1,000. Griffin ranks fifth in Husker history in scoring and is within 27 points of former teammate Kiera Hardy in fourth (1,930, 2004-07).
Montgomery Could Be Eighth Husker with 1,300 Points, 600 Boards
With 1,311 points and 592 career rebounds, senior forward Cory Montgomery is poised to become just the eighth Husker in history to score 1,300 points and pull down 600 rebounds in a career.
Montgomery, who can join current Husker teammate Kelsey Griffin on that prestigious list by grabbing eight more rebounds, produced her best effort of the year with a season-high 24 points in NU's 12 title-clinching win at No. 11 Oklahoma Feb. 24. She has moved into 12th on Nebraska's all-time scoring list and needs 19 more rebounds to match Pyra Aarden (1993-96) in 14th with 611.
To reach the top 12 in rebounding at Nebraska, the 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., must amass 636 rebounds. Montgomery owns 65 double-figure scoring efforts, nine double-figure rebounding efforts and nine double-doubles in her career.
Montgomery has played her best against NU's best competition. She established her season high with 18 points in NU's win at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 17, when she added six boards and three three-pointers. She had 18 points in Nebraska's win over No. 12 Texas A&M. She had a 17-point, seven-rebound effort in the win over Colorado on Feb. 20, which followed a 16-point performance in a win over No. 13 Iowa State Feb. 17. She added 16 points in NU's win over No. 19 Texas on Jan. 12, and also had 16 points, and a trio of three-pointers in the Huskers' run past No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. Montgomery enters the Kansas State game averaging 13.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She is hitting 41.3 percent (31-75) of her three-point attempts and 81.5 percent (53-65) of her free throws.
Montgomery has produced double figures in 22 of NU's 28 games. An honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick as a junior, Montgomery earned a spot on the Saint Mary's Hilton Thanksgiving all-tournament team by averaging 15 points and five rebounds in a pair of Husker wins over UALR and Saint Mary's.
She notched her ninth career double-double and first of the season with game highs of 15 points and a season-high 10 rebounds in Nebraska's win over Idaho State on Nov. 19. She just missed her second double-double of the year with nine points and nine rebounds in NU's win over Creighton on Dec. 9, and opened Big 12 play with 10 points and eight rebounds in a win at Iowa State on Jan. 9.
Turner Joins Griffin, Montgomery in NU Record Book
Yvonne Turner recently joined fellow seniors Kelsey Griffin and Cory Montgomery in Nebraska's 1,000-point club, reaching the mark in a win over No. 13 Iowa State on Feb. 17. Turner, a 5-8 guard from Omaha, Neb., has climbed to No. 21 on Nebraska's all-time scoring list with 1,050 career points.
Scoring is just one of the ways that the 2006 Nebraska High School Player of the Year has earned her way into the Husker record book. One of the best three-point shooters in school history, Turner ranks second in Husker history with 173 made three-pointers, trailing only former teammate Kiera Hardy's 267 (2004-07). Turner's 72 threes this year place her in fourth on NU's single-season list. She needs just nine more threes to match Hardy's junior season total of 81 (2005-06). Amy Stephens set the school record with 85 threes in 1988-89, which Hardy matched as a sophomore in 2004-05.
Turner first made a name for herself at Nebraska with her defense. Her 81 steals as a sophomore in 2007-08 ranked eighth in school history. Her 218 career steals rank seventh on the NU all-time list. She needs just four more to reach Anna DeForge in sixth and five more to match Brooke Schwartz in fifth with 223.
With four assists against Kansas on Wednesday, Turner also reached 200 in her career to place herself in elite company among Nebraska's all-time best guards. Turner become just the sixth Husker to score 1,000 points, dish out 200 assists and record 200 steals, joining Anna DeForge, Nicole Kubik, Brooke Schwartz, Amy Stephens and Meggan Yedsena.
Husker Fans Coming Out in Droves at Devaney
Nebraska has regularly ranked among the top 30 teams nationally in average home attendance over the past 15 years, but Husker fans have flocked to the Bob Devaney Sports Center in record numbers in 2009-10.
Big Red faithful have come along for the ride during Nebraska's record-setting season, averaging a school-record 7,390 fans per game - ranking eighth nationally. NU's Big 12 attendance has been spectacular, as the Huskers have averaged a Big 12-leading 11,383 fans per game. Nebraska attracted seven consecutive crowds of more than 10,000 to the Devaney Center to end the season, beginning with a then-school-record 13,303 fans for Nebraska's win over Kansas State on Jan. 23.
Nebraska smashed that record against Missouri Feb. 27, posting the first sellout in school history with 13,595 fans in attendance. Over the last seven home games, the Huskers attracted an average of 11,989 fans per game to the Devaney Center.
Nebraska's previous single-season average home attendance record was 5,000 fans per game in 1998-99.
Huskers Join UConn As Only Unbeatens
Nebraska heads into the regular-season finale at Kansas State as one of just two unbeaten teams left among the 345 NCAA Division I women's basketball teams, joining No. 1 Connecticut. UConn owns the nation's longest winning streak, which has reached 69 games, just one shy of its NCAA record 70-game streak from 2001 to 2003.
Huskers Claim Highest Ranking at No. 3 in AP Poll
Nebraska achieved its highest ranking in school history when the Huskers climbed to No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday, Feb. 8. NU has maintained that ranking for four weeks, giving the Huskers' seven straight weeks in the top 10 and 12 straight in the top 25. NU's first-ever top-10 ranking in either poll came with a No. 9 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN poll on Jan. 12.
Nebraska is one of seven Big 12 teams in the AP top 25 and the highest ranked team in the league. The Huskers are one of just two undefeated teams left among the 345 NCAA Division I schools, and the only Big 12 team with fewer than five losses. NU is joined by No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 13 Iowa State, No. 14 Baylor, No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 18 Texas and No. 20 Oklahoma State in the AP Top 25. Kansas was also ranked for nine weeks earlier this season.
Huskers Running High in Official NCAA RPI
The NCAA released its official RPI rankings on Monday, March 1, and Nebraska was near the top of the chart with a No. 4 national RPI ranking. Only Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee were ahead of the Huskers.
Big 12 foes Oklahoma (7th) and Texas A&M (8th) joined Nebraska in the top 10, while Oklahoma State was 11th, Baylor 13th, Texas 15th and Iowa State 20th giving the Big 12 seven teams in the RPI top 20.
All 12 of the Big 12 teams were among the top 105, including No. 35 Texas Tech, No. 37 Kansas, No. 101 Kansas State, No. 102 Colorado and No. 103 Missouri.
Nebraska already owns 16 wins over top-100 RPI teams, including No. 7, Oklahoma, No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 13 Baylor, No. 15 Texas, No. 20 Iowa State (2), No. 26 LSU, No. 35 Texas Tech, No. 37 Kansas (2), No. 45 Vermont, No. 58 UALR, No. 66 Saint Mary's, No. 68 Miami and Creighton No. 90. NU also owns wins over RPI 101 Kansas State, No. 102 Colorado (2) and No. 103 Missouri (2). Nine of NU's top-100 RPI wins have come away from home, including eight true road wins.
Big Four Know How to Score for Big Red
Nebraska's big four scorers of Kelsey Griffin, Cory Montgomery, Yvonne Turner and Dominique Kelley have all put up impressive numbers for the Huskers through 28 games.
Each of NU's most experienced players are averaging more than 12 points per game and have combined to hit 49.9 percent (547-1,096) of their shots from the field, including 127-of-332 (38.3 percent) of their three-point attempts. Griffin leads NU with 19.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, while Montgomery - NU's leading scorer and rebounder a year ago - is averaging 13.0 points and 4.8 boards per contest. Turner has added 12.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game - while pouring in 14.3 points and 3.7 boards per game in league action.
Kelley, the lone junior in the experienced foursome, has pitched in 12.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
The last Nebraska team to have four players average in double figures in a season was the 1996 NCAA Tournament squad (Anna DeForge, Tina McClain, Pyra Aarden, Kate Galligan). Only one time between 1995-96 and 2008-09 (13 seasons) did Nebraska feature three players who averaged double figures - Coach Connie Yori's first NU team in 2002-03 (Alexa Johnson, Katie Morse, Margaret Richards). Morse, who averaged 12 points per game, only played the first seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
NU Showing North Division Dominance over Last Five Years
During the past five seasons (including 2009-10), Nebraska leads the North Division with a 35-14 regular-season record against the other five Big 12 North foes. Iowa State is 31-18, while Kansas State is 30-19 in that span.
The Huskers have completed season sweeps of Iowa State, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas to improve to 9-0 this season against the North. NU will shoot for its fifth sweep at Kansas State on Saturday, after beating the Wildcats (71-56) in Lincoln on Jan. 23. Iowa State is 6-3 against the North this year, while Kansas State is 5-4 and Kansas is 5-5. Colorado is 3-6 and Missouri is 0-10.
Huskers First North Team to Go 6-0 vs. South Since 2000
Nebraska capped a 6-0 sweep of the Big 12 South with an 80-64 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma to clinch the 2010 Big 12 regular-season title on Feb. 24. The Huskers own eight straight wins against the South.
The win over the Sooners followed a 71-60 victory over No. 12 Texas A&M Feb. 6 and an 88-67 run past No. 10 Oklahoma State in Lincoln Feb. 3. Nebraska produced its largest victory margin in history against a Big 12 opponent with an 89-47 win at Texas Tech Jan. 27, after posting a 65-56 win at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 17. The Lady Bears are the only South foe to play the Huskers within single digits this season. NU opened home Big 12 action with a 91-79 win over No. 19 Texas on Jan. 12.
In its six meetings with Big 12 South foes, Nebraska is averaging 80.7 points per game, while surrendering 62.2 points per contest, for an average winning margin of 18.5 points per game.
Nebraska is the first North team in a decade to sweep the South. Iowa State was the last team to accomplish the feat in 1999-2000, while Kansas (1998-99) is the only other North school to notch a sweep. A North school has won five or more games against the South only eight previous times, most recently Kansas State's back-to-back 5-1 marks in 2002-03 and 2003-04. Iowa State is 4-1 against the South this season.
Scouting the Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State heads into Saturday's Senior Day game in Manhattan with a 13-16 overall record and a 5-10 Big 12 mark. A win for the Wildcats over the Huskers could allow KSU to move into an eight or nine seed at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City next week, which could mean a future matchup with Nebraska in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament.
The Wildcats have continued to battle despite being hit hard by injuries this season. Last week, KSU lost its third player on a 10-player roster to a season-ending knee injury when Shalin Spani went down with an ACL tear. Spani made five starts and played in all 28 games for KSU before the injury. She averaged 4.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, while ranking fifth on the team with 24 three-pointers.
Alina Voronenko was also lost early in the season to an injury after playing seven games, while Kelsey Hill went down before the year began.
Senior forward Ashley Sweat continues to star for the Wildcats, averaging 16.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 35.6 minutes per game. She has been joined in KSU's starting five all season by fellow senior Kari Kincaid, who has added 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and a team-leading 2.8 assists per game.
Freshman guard Brittany Chambers has provided stability in the backcourt by averaging 12.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while fellow freshman Taelor Karr has pitched in 8.7 points and 4.3 boards per game. Sophomore forward Jalana Childs rounds out KSU's starting five by averaging 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
Sophomore forward Branshea Brown (3.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and freshman guard Mariah White (1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg) complete the short list of available players for the Wildcats.
As a team, Kansas State has managed 61.9 points per game, while surrendering 62.0 points per contest. KSU carries a minus-2.3 team rebounding margin, but a plus-0.4 team turnover margin. The Wildcats are shooting just 40.2 percent from the field, but a strong 36.8 percent (210-571) from three-point range. KSU is also outstanding at the line, hitting 74.4 percent of its free throws.
Kansas State leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 44-31, but the Huskers have won the last two meetings, including a 71-56 win at the Devaney Center on Jan. 23. NU also knocked off KSU in Lincoln last season, 52-47, on Feb. 25, 2009. Nebraska's last win in Manhattan came on Feb. 7, 2007. Before the 2007 victory, NU's next most recent victory at Bramlage Coliseum came on Feb. 17, 2001.
Vote for Griffin as Lowe's Senior Class Finalist
Nebraska senior forward Kelsey Griffin was named one of 10 finalists for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for NCAA Division I women's basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Griffin, a 6-2 power forward from Eagle River, Alaska, is in the midst of one of the most productive seasons in women's college basketball this year, averaging 19.8 points and 10.5 rebounds while leading the 28-0 Huskers with 51 steals and 22 charges drawn, to go along with 20 blocked shots.
The two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection is also a candidate for the Wade Trophy, the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award, as a national player-of-the-year candidate. In addition to her success on the court in her career, the All-America candidate is also a standout in the classroom and in the community.
In the classroom, Griffin is a two-time first-team academic All-Big 12 selection who carries nearly a 3.5 grade-point average as a biological sciences major. Projected as a high WNBA draft pick in 2010, Griffin hopes to pursue a career in the medical profession following her playing days. In the community, Griffin has been a mentor at Belmont Elementary School for five years, and has served as a volunteer speaker multiple times for "School is Cool" week and the "School is Cool" celebration. She has also spoken several times during American Education Week, while helping the women's basketball team claim Nebraska's Life Skills Award of Excellence in 2006.
The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 women's basketball candidates who were announced in October.
Fans can vote right now at the award's official web site: http://www.seniorCLASSaward.com, as well as through text messaging. Fans can text W6 to 74567 to vote for women's finalists. These votes will be combined with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award.
In addition to Griffin, the other women's basketball finalists are: Jayne Appel, Stanford; Amy Beggin, New Mexico; Joy Cheek, Duke; Alysha Clark, Middle Tennessee State; Tyra Grant, Penn State; Allison Hightower, LSU; Ashley Houts, Georgia; Ashley Sweat, Kansas State; and Bianca Thomas, Mississippi.
The 2009-10 season marks the ninth year of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, and past women's basketball recipients include: Sue Bird (Connecticut, 2002), LaToya Thomas (Mississippi State, 2003), Alana Beard (Duke, 2004), Kendra Wecker (Kansas State, 2005), Seimone Augustus (LSU, 2006), Alison Bales (Duke, 2007), Candice Wiggins (Stanford, 2008), Courtney Paris (Oklahoma, 2009).
National Numbers Show Huskers Continuing Improvement
In the most recent NCAA statistics (March 1), Nebraska is showing a level of play previously unmatched in program history. The Huskers rank fourth nationally in scoring margin (21.0 ppg), while UConn leads the nation at 36 ppg.
Offensively, the Huskers rank seventh nationally in field goal percentage (.463) and 11th in scoring offense (78 ppg). NU also ranks 15th in three-point field goal percentage defense, 22nd in rebound margin, 29th in turnovers per game, 32nd in assist-to-turnover ratio, 36th in personal fouls per game and 37th in three-point field goals per game.
Husker Road Foes Seeing Big Red in 3-D
In 12 games away from the Devaney Center, Nebraska has held its opponents to just 21.2 percent (33-156) from beyond the arc. That number is even more staggering when you consider that Nebraska's road foes have included Baylor, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, Miami and Vermont, all of which have been ranked in the top 25 this season.
In Big 12 play, the numbers are even more amazing, as the Huskers have held conference road foes to just 18-for-90 shooting from three-point range - 20 percent. In 12 Big 12 games overall, NU foes have hit 31.5 percent (64-203) of their three-point attempts. Amazing considering a three-game stretch from Feb. 13 to Feb. 20, when Missouri, Iowa State and Colorado combined to go 33-for-71 from long range.
In Nebraska's last five games against Big 12 South competition, the Huskers have held their opponents (No. 9 Baylor, No. 10 Oklahoma State, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 12 Texas A&M and Texas Tech) to a combined 9-for-62 shooting from long range (14.5 percent).
In addition to stopping the opposition, Nebraska has produced well offensively from long range on the road. The Huskers have hit 80-of-246 threes in 12 road games, outscoring their opponents 240-99 from three-point territory. In Big 12 play, NU has outscored its road foes 150-84 from behind the arc.
Practice? This Team Loves Talkin' 'Bout Practice
Listen to the Nebraska players and coaches talk about the keys to their success so far in 2009-10, and one word repeatedly comes up - "practice." The Huskers love to talk about practice. Since the early days of the season, Nebraska Coach Connie Yori has said that the 2009-10 Huskers are "the best practicing team she has ever coached."
Senior All-America candidate said recently that she entered the season with the mindset that "she would make sure the coaches did not have to coach effort in practice." She went on to say that she has played a minor role in assuring effort, "because my teammates are working so hard every day that I don't even worry about it."
Senior guard Yvonne Turner told a group of reporters following Nebraska's win over Albany on Dec. 30 that, "sure it was nice to have a whole week off for Christmas after beating LSU, but I couldn't wait to get back to practice. I think we were all the same way. We couldn't wait to get back on the court together."
On Monday, Jan. 18, just hours after Nebraska had achieved its first-ever AP top-10 ranking in school history, junior guard Dominique Kelley told a reporter after practice, "sure, its nice to be ranked, whatever we're ranked I don't even know, but what it really shows is how hard we all worked during the offseason and how hard we are working every day in practice to get better."
Nebraska Owns Success Against Top 25 Foes
Nebraska has made a habit of knocking off top-25 opponents during Connie Yori's eight seasons at the helm. In fact, the Huskers' win over No. 11 Oklahoma marked their 19th win over an AP Top 25 foe during Yori's tenure, including their seventh this season. NU's 21-point win over No. 10 Oklahoma State on Feb. 3 was the Huskers' fifth against a top-10 opponent. Before Yori's arrival, Nebraska had beaten just one top-10 opponent in school history.
Nebraska's three top-10 wins this season have matched NU's all-time total in 35 seasons of women's basketball.
NU's win at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 17, marked the Huskers' first victory against a top-25 team in a true road game under Yori. It was also the Huskers' first-ever true road win over a top-10 opponent.
The Huskers have posted six wins over AP Top 15 teams (No. 5 LSU, No. 9 Baylor, No. 10 Oklahoma State, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 13 Iowa State) this season, including three wins over top-10 foes.
The Huskers also own a road win over current AP No. 15 Iowa State on Jan. 9, in Ames, while also claiming road wins over previously ranked clubs at Vermont (AP No. 24, Jan. 18), Miami (AP No. 25, Jan. 11), Kansas (as high as No. 18, first nine weeks AP). The Jayhawks, Catamounts and Hurricanes were unranked when they played the Huskers.
The highest-ranked team Nebraska has ever defeated was the 2004-05 Baylor team that went on to win the national title. NU outlasted No. 2 BU, 103-99 in triple overtime on Jan. 12, 2005. The Huskers' 21-point win over No. 10 OSU on Feb. 3, 2010, marked NU's largest victory margin ever over a top-10 team. Nebraska's 29-point win over No. 14 Iowa State in 2005 was NU's largest victory margin in history over a top-25 foe. Nebraska's 56-45 win over No. 15 Texas at the Devaney Center in 2008 also marked the lowest point total ever allowed by the Huskers against a ranked opponent. Before Yori's arrival at Nebraska in 2002-03, the Huskers had not defeated a top-10 team since a 73-67 win over No. 9 Iowa on Dec. 8, 1996, and had never beaten a top-five opponent.
Huskers Get It Done on Court, In Classroom, In Community
Nebraska has not only enjoyed a record-setting run on the court this season, the Huskers are achieving at high levels in the classroom.
Nebraska led the Big 12 with six first-team academic all-conference selections this season. Five Husker seniors claimed first-team honors, led by Kelsey Griffin. It was the third first-team award of Griffin's career. She was joined as a three-time first-team selection by senior Kala Kuhlmann, while Cory Montgomery added her third academic award, including her second first-team honor. Nicole Neals and Nikki Bober also claimed first-team honors, along with junior center Jessica Periago. The 6-4 center from France earned her second first-team award.
During the 2009 fall semester, the women's basketball team posted a cumulative 3.138 GPA. In addition to the high grade-point averages, seniors Cory Montgomery (business administration) and Nicole Neals (management) earned their bachelor's degrees from Nebraska in just 3 1/2 years. The two new graduate students received their diplomas at the Devaney Center during commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 19. The next day, Montgomery and Neals helped the Huskers roll to a 77-63 win over No. 5 LSU at the Devaney Center.
Nebraska also owns a perfect 100 percent score in the Graduate Success Rate published by the NCAA, and every player that Connie Yori has coached over the past 19 seasons has gone on to earn her degree.
The Huskers have also earned two Nebraska Life Skills Team Awards during Coach Connie Yori's eight seasons in Lincoln, including the inaugural award in 2003-04. Griffin has been a leader in Nebraska's community service efforts throughout her career and is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award this season.
Nebraska Continues Impressive Schedule Strength
The Big 12 Conference leaves no room for the weak of heart or mind, and Nebraska's non-conference schedule prepared the Huskers well for the start of the league season. Not only did NU run to its first-ever unbeaten non-conference regular season, the Huskers did it against the strongest non-conference schedule in school history.
When Nebraska's non-conference season closed, the Huskers' strength of schedule was ranked No. 25 by CollegeRPI.com. NU, which has played back-to-back top-25 schedules according to CollegeRPI.com, saw its schedule strength climb to No. 18 on Feb. 11, after knocking off RPI No. 23 Kansas in Lawrence. The Huskers enter their second game against Kansas State with a No. 27 Strength of Schedule.
Huskers Producing Massive Margins
Nebraska's average victory margin of 21.0 points per game through 28 contests is the best in school history and ranks fourth nationally. UConn leads the nation with its 36.0 point-per-game advantage.
The 2009-10 Huskers are averaging 78 points per game (2,184 total points) on the offensive end, which would rank as the sixth-best scoring average in school history. Last season, Nebraska averaged just 62.2 points per game, including 59.7 in Big 12 play.
NU Offense Hitting 80 Points with Frequency
With an offense that ranks among the best in school history, Nebraska has hit 80-plus points regularly in 2009-10. The Huskers have hit 80 or more points on 13 occasions.
Nebraska's offense has been strong against the nation's best. In 12 games against teams that have been ranked in the top 25 at any point this season (Miami, LSU, Vermont, Iowa State-2, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Kansas-2, Oklahoma), the Huskers are averaging 75.3 points, including 94 points at Vermont, 91 against No. 19 Texas and 88 against No. 10 Oklahoma State. Iowa State has been the only team to hold the Huskers to fewer than 65 points, doing it twice (57 at Ames, 60 in Lincoln). NU is averaging 78.6 points against the other 10 games against top 25 foes.
Last season Nebraska managed 80 points on only two occasions, in the first game (Weber State, 96-47) and last game (Oklahoma State, 82-74) of the regular season.
Three of NU's 13 80-plus games have crossed the 90-point mark, including a 107-54 win over Washington State (Nov. 22), a 94-50 win at Vermont (Jan. 4) and a 91-79 win over Texas (Jan. 12).
Huskers Dig Defense
NU is surrendering just 57.0 points per game through 28 contests, which is on pace for the lowest opponent scoring average since 1975-76, when the Huskers allowed a school-record 56.0 points per contest over 30 games on their way to a 21-9 record. Twenty of NU's 30 games that season came against teams not currently in NCAA Division I.
Turner Shoots to No. 2 on NU Career Three List
Senior Yvonne Turner has hit 72-of-190 three-point attempts (37.9 percent) to lead an impressive Husker three-point barrage through 28 games.
Turner ranks third in the Big 12 with 2.6 made three-pointers per game this season, while her 37.9 percent success rate ranks ninth in the league. She leads the Big 12 in league games only with 2.9 threes per contest.
Turner buried six threes in back-to-back wins over Baylor and Kansas State, before hitting four threes in NU's run past No. 10 Oklahoma State on Feb. 6 and a win over Colorado on Feb. 20. She added three more triples at Texas Tech, at Colorado, No. 12 Texas A&M and Kansas. She owns 173 career threes to rank No. 2 in school history, trailing only former teammate Kiera Hardy (267, 2003-06). Turner has also improved her career shooting percentage to 33.9 percent (173-510), which ranks eighth all-time at Nebraska.
Turner ranks second on NU's senior single-season three-point list with 72. Amy Stephens owns the senior class record with 85 in 1988-89.
Turner led the Huskers with 57 three-pointers in 2008-09. She hit 44-of-116 three-point attempts (37.9 percent) over the last 22 games. Her shooting success came despite an injured shoulder that plagued her throughout the season and required surgery after the season. Turner did not shoot for more than three months following the surgery.
Turner finished 2008-09 in a tie for second with KU's Danielle McCray with 2.1 made three-pointers per game, trailing only Iowa State senior Heather Ezell's 2.4 per contest.
Turner finished second on the Husker junior single-season three-point made list, trailing only Hardy's 81 in 2005-06. As a junior, Turner averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. A two-time Big 12 All-Defensive Team pick, Turner is ranked among the top 10 active Big 12 players in both career three-pointers (173) and career steals (218).
Griffin Going Off on Game-By-Game Basis
National Player-of-the-Year candidate Kelsey Griffin is producing the best season of her career as a senior for the Huskers. The 6-2 power forward owns a Big 12-leading 17 double-doubles, including 12 in Big 12 play.
Her averages of 19.8 points and 10.5 rebounds lead the Huskers and rank among the best players in the Big 12, while she is averaging just over 27 minutes per game. She also owns a career-high 51 steals and 22 charges drawn, while adding 20 blocked shots. She also ranks among the top players nationally with her 60.1 field goal percentage. In Big 12 play, she is averaging 20.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
In Nebraska's win over Creighton on Dec. 9, Griffin tied her career high with 31 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. She hit 12-of-16 shots from the field against the Jays and added two assists, two steals and a block.
Eleven days later, Griffin notched her second 30-point game of the season and third of her career with 30 points and 14 rebounds in NU's win over No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. She also tied her career best with 12 field goals made against LSU.
Griffin produced her third 30-point effort of the season and fourth of her career with 30 points and 13 rebounds in Nebraska's Big 12 regular-season title-clinching win at No. 11 Oklahoma on Feb. 24. It was her 14th game with 20 or more points and 10th with 25 or more this season.
She earned MVP honors at the Saint Mary's Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Tournament by averaging 27.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals in two games. She opened with 27 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, while adding three steals against UALR (Nov. 27). She produced 28 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high matching four steals in a win over Saint Mary's (Nov. 28).
Griffin added 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, two charges drawn and a steal in NU's win at Missouri on Feb. 13. She personally accounted for 14 defensive stops against MU. She added 25 points, 12 rebounds, a career-high six assists, two blocks and two steals against Colorado Feb. 20.
In a road win at Vermont, Griffin scored 25 points and pulled down a then-career-high 16 rebounds on Jan. 4, just days after scoring 27 points and grabbing seven boards on what is thought to be the best shooting performance by a women's basketball player in the history of the Devaney Center. Griffin went 9-for-9 from the field, including a career-best two three-pointers, while adding 7-for-7 free throw shooting in a win over Albany.
She continued the amazing start to her senior season with 26 points and 10 rebounds in Nebraska's win over No. 19 Texas on Jan. 12. Griffin added 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in NU's win over No. 12 Texas A&M on Feb. 6. She added three steals, a block and a pair of charges drawn against the Aggies. She added 24 points in NU's win at Colorado on Jan. 30, 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in a victory over Kansas State Jan. 23, and 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two charges drawn in just 25 minutes in NU's win at Texas Tech on Jan. 27.
In Nebraska's 88-67 win over No. 10 Oklahoma State on Feb. 3, Griffin had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in just 19 minutes, as NU built a 36-point lead against the Cowgirls. In Nebraska's 67-60 win at Kansas, Griffin notched a double-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and two steals in just 26 minutes. In a 65-56 victory at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 17, she added a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while setting career bests with five assists and four charges drawn. She owns 18 double-figure rebound totals on the year, including a 19-point, 17-rebound effort against Missouri Feb. 27, which also included a career-high five blocked shots.
In her career, Griffin has produced 20 or more points on 31 occasions, including 16 games with 25 or more points. She enters the Kansas State game with 98 career double-figure scoring efforts and 39 double-figure rebounding performances in her career.
Kelley Cranks Up Production As a Junior
Junior guard Dominique Kelley has put up big numbers for Nebraska this season, averaging 12.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 24.2 minutes per game. The 5-7 hometown favorite out of Lincoln Northeast High School has produced double figures 21 times this year, including a season-high 19 points in Nebraska's win at Missouri on Feb. 13. Kelley hit 5-of-6 shots from the field and 9-of-10 free throws against the Tigers. She also produced 18 points against Colorado (Jan. 30), No. 19 Texas (Jan. 12) and Saint Mary's (Nov. 28).
A consistent scorer and tough defender, Kelley has produced 44 double-figure scoring efforts in her NU career, including 37 over the past 59 games. She produced double digits 16 times as a sophomore, after managing double figures just seven times while starting all 33 games for the Huskers as a true freshman in 2007-08. Kelley also ranks second among the Huskers this season with 14 charges drawn.
Kelley had a big effort on the road for the Huskers with a game-high matching 17 points in NU's win at UNLV on Nov. 15. She scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers.
She is coming off a 16-point, four-rebound effort in the win over Kansas on March 3, when she pumped in 14 points in the first half. She played just 22 minutes.
Kelley produced 16 points in NU's run past Texas Tech on Jan. 27, and came up big in Nebraska's road win at Miami. She led five Huskers in double figures with 16 points, while knocking down a pair of three-pointers and 8-of-12 free throws. She also drew two charges and had a game-saving steal in the closing seconds to knock off the previously unbeaten Hurricanes.
She added 14 points, including 11 in the second half, to help Nebraska come back for a road win at Kansas on Feb. 10. She also contributed seven rebounds at KU. Kelley scored a game-high 14 points while matching her season high with seven rebounds in NU's run past Northern Illinois on Dec. 13. She had 10 points and five boards in the first half to help shoot the Huskers to a 34-17 halftime lead.
Kelley had 13 points, including 11 in the first half, in Nebraska's win over No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. Going head-to-head with All-American Allison Hightower from LSU, Kelley held the Naismith Trophy candidate to 15 points on just 7-of-21 shooting. Kelley's points came on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor. She added 13 more points against No. 10 Oklahoma State, hitting 5-of-7 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 three-pointers, while playing just 17 minutes in a lopsided win over the Cowgirls. Kelley also scored 13 points against Colorado (Feb. 20), Creighton and Washington State.
She added another strong effort with 12 points and a season-best seven rebounds to help her celebrate her 21st birthday a day early with a win over Idaho State. Kelley put up 12 more points and tied her season-best with seven rebounds while also dishing out three assists while going head-to-head against Lincoln Northeast High School teammate Charity Iromuanya in a win over Albany on Dec. 30.
Kelley is shooting 43.2 percent (92-213) from the field and 40.9 percent (18-44) from three-point range, while connecting on 78.0 percent (135-173) of her free throws. She ranks second on the team with 14 charges drawn.
Freshman Moore Off to 28-0 Mark as Starter
Lindsey Moore has helped the Huskers to a 28-0 record as Nebraska's starting point guard in her first 28 collegiate games. The 5-9 freshman from Covington, Wash., produced the best performance of her career with 18 points and a career-best four three-pointers in Nebraska's win over No. 13 Iowa State on Feb. 17.
Her effort against the Cyclones surpassed her previous career high of 11 points, which came along with a career-best eight rebounds in NU's run past No. 10 Oklahoma State on Feb. 3.
She produced her sixth career double-figure performance, including her fourth in Big 12 play, when she pumped in 14 points to go along with three assists and three steals in Nebraska's run past Kansas on March 3. She added 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal in Nebraska's Big 12 title-clinching win at No. 11 Oklahoma on Feb. 24. Moore hit 4-of-7 shots from the field, including 2-of-4 three-pointers to help the Huskers to a 16-point win over the Sooners. Moore has hit 8-of-her-last-16 three-point attempts over the past five games, and is averaging 9.6 points per contest during that stretch.
Moore had 11 points in a win over Creighton on Dec. 9, while producing her first career double-digit effort with 10 points in a win over Washington State on Nov. 22. She added nine points, seven assists and just one turnover in NU's run past No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20.
Moore ranks fifth in Big 12 games with a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, while ranking in a tie for fourth with 4.7 assists per game. She has moved into third on Nebraska's freshman single-season assist chart with 122, while becoming the first Husker since 2005-06 (LaToya Howell and Kiera Hardy) to notch 100 assists in a season.
In addition to her success as Nebraska's floor general on offense, Moore has turned up her defensive intensity throughout Big 12 play. Moore owns 21 steals through 15 league games, including back-to-back three-steal efforts in wins at Kansas and Missouri. Moore's late-game defensive heroics allowed the Huskers to post come-from-behind wins in both games. She also notched four steals in NU's second win against Kansas.
Moore made an immediate impression in the Huskers' season-opening win over Davidson on Nov. 13 by scoring Nebraska's first two points of the year on a 15-foot jumper off the opening tip. She finished with five points and a game-high eight assists. She also had just one turnover against the Wildcats.
Last season, Kaitlyn Burke was the only Husker to produce eight assists in a game, which came at Long Beach State on Dec. 12, 2008. Over the three previous seasons, (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09), a Husker had produced eight or more assists on only three occasions, including nine from Yvonne Turner at Kansas State on Feb. 27, 2008, and eight from Kiera Hardy at Minnesota on Dec. 5, 2006.
Through 28 games, Moore has notched eight or more assists four times, including twice in Big 12 play. In Nebraska's first-ever road win at Texas Tech on Jan. 27, Moore scored five points, distributed eight assists and matched her career high with three steals. Her effort followed on the heels of a career-best performance in a win over Kansas State on Jan. 23, when she notched nine assists, five rebounds and three steals - all career highs at the time - to go along with four points.
Moore also dished out eight assists in NU's win at Miami on Dec. 5. She added three points, including Nebraska's final two free throws with less than three seconds left to seal the win. She also snagged a pair of steals.
Moore closed non-conference play with an eight-point, two-assist performance at Vermont that included a two three-pointers to help the Huskers to a 44-point win over the Catamounts. She added eight points and five assists in NU's 91-79 win over No. 19 Texas on Jan. 12.
Turner Moves to Seventh on NU Career Steals List
With 218 career steals, including 52 in 28 games this season, senior Yvonne Turner ranks No. 7 on Nebraska's all-time steals list. She needs just four more steals to catch two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge in sixth (222, 1995-98) and three more to reach Brooke Schwartz in fifth (223, 1997-2000).
Turner owns career highs of eight steals against Florida (Nov. 17, 2007) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Jan. 2, 2008). Those totals rank among the top-10 single-game marks in NU history. She is one of only three Huskers to notch eight or more steals twice in a career. She had season highs of four steals at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 17, 2010, at Missouri on Feb. 13, and against No. 13 Iowa State on Feb. 17, producing 29 steals in her last 12 games.
Turner solidified her spot as one of the Big 12's best defenders in 2008-09 by earning her second straight appearance on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and NU's Defensive Player-of-the-Year Award. She ranked fourth in the Big 12 with 2.2 steals per game, after leading the Big 12 with 2.6 steals per league game in 2007-08.
In Big 12 play this season, she has averaged 2.3 steals per contest, including four games with four steals.
Her 81 steals in 2007-08 ranked as the second-best total by a Husker sophomore in history, while ranking eighth overall on NU's single-season steals list. She registered 67 steals last season, while playing much of the year with an injured shoulder.
Huskers Shatter School Three-Point Record
Nebraska is in the process of crushing the single-season school record for three-pointers made. The Huskers, who eclipsed the previous record of 173 made threes in 2006-07, passed the old mark in the 25th game of 2009-10. NU has increased their 2009-10 total to 190 threes through 28 games.
Under Coach Connie Yori, Nebraska has produced each of the top seven seasons in three-point field goals made in school history.
As a team, NU ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 37th nationally with 6.8 threes per game, well ahead of school-record pace, which was set last season with 5.5 threes per game. NU has outscored its opponents by a combined 240 points (570-330) behind the arc this season, an average of 8.6 points per game.
Nebraska knocked down a school-record-tying 12 three-pointers in the road win at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 17. NU's 34 attempts against the Lady Bears were also a school record. The Huskers hit 11-of-23 three-pointers against Washington State, which was just one shy of the school record set in the 2008-09 season opener against Weber State. NU added 11-of-31 threes in a run past No. 10 Oklahoma State on Feb. 3. The Huskers also connected on 10 threes against Idaho State, and nine threes against Colorado (Feb. 20), Kansas State, Texas, Miami and UNLV. The Huskers buried eight threes against Vermont, Albany and South Dakota.
Huskers Cruise Past Kansas on Senior Night
In the final regular-season home game for the largest and most successful senior class in school history, No. 3 Nebraska rolled to a lopsided win over an old nemesis with a 77-52 victory over Kansas in front of more than 12,000 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday night.
Playing in front of the seventh straight crowd of more than 10,000 fans, the Big 12 regular-season champion Huskers continued their bid to become the first-ever Big 12 Conference team to finish a regular season undefeated by improving to 28-0 overall and 15-0 in the league. The Huskers also ended their home season by matching the best home record in school history at 16-0, while stretching their home winning streak to 20 games.
National Player-of-the-Year candidate Kelsey Griffin, playing in her final home game and making her 121st career start, led NU with 18 points and nine rebounds in just 22 minutes, while junior guard Dominique Kelley added 16 points in 22 minutes, including 14 in the first half.
Freshman point guard Lindsey Moore added 14 points, three assists and three steals, while senior forward Cory Montgomery added 12 points and four boards. Senior guard Yvonne Turner added a strong night of her own with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Nebraska dominated from start to finish, building leads in excess of 30 points in the second half. The Huskers hit just 39.7 percent (25-63) of their field goal attempts, including just 3-of-12 three-pointers for the game, but NU put the Jayhawks away early by burying a blistering 54.8 percent (17-31) of their first-half shots in building a 49-32 halftime lead.
For the game, Nebraska outscored Kansas at the line 24-4, while outrebounding KU, 43-31, including a 17-5 edge on the offensive glass. The Huskers were also plus-11 in the turnover department (22-11).
Kansas outshot the Huskers for the game (44.2 percent), but hit just 2-of-11 three-pointers and just three total field goals in the first eight minutes of the second. No Jayhawk managed double figures on the night, as Annette Davis and Monica Engelman both totaled nine points. Freshman Carolyn Davis was shut out by NU, while attempting just two shots.
Nebraska Forcing Fresh Look at Levels of Production
Basketball fans are accustomed to charting individual statistics by game, but the depth, experience and style of play of the Huskers this season may cause some folks to take a fresh look at the numbers.
For example, no Husker is averaging more than 28 minutes per game, but NU's individual numbers still rival all-conference levels of production.
Kelsey Griffin, a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection makes the strongest case for considering production per minute, rather than per game. Griffin enters the Kansas State game ranked second in the Big 12 with 19.8 points per game and first in the league with 10.5 rebounds per game. Those numbers become significantly more impressive considering she has played just 27.2 minutes per game.
Taken over 40 minutes, Griffin would be averaging 29.2 points, 15.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.7 steals. In addition to her 51 steals this season, Griffin has added 20 blocked shots and drawn a team-leading 22 charges. She is also shooting 60.1 percent from the field, which ranks among national leaders.
Compare that production to current Big 12 scoring leader Andrea Riley, who enters the weekend averaging 25.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Through 29 games, Riley is averaging 36.5 minutes per game, and her 40-minute production is 28.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 2.0 steals. Riley is also shooting just 35.5 percent from the field.
With 555 points and 295 rebounds in 761 minutes, Griffin is averaging 0.73 points per minute and 0.39 rebounds per minute. Riley averages an impressive 0.70 points per minute, but just 0.09 rebounds. In 2007-08, Griffin led the Big 12 in point production in conference games only with 0.62 points per minute, while ranking second in rebounding with 0.30 rebounds per minute - trailing only 2007 National Player of the Year Courtney Paris on the glass.
The following is a brief listing of Nebraska players and their averages taken over 40 minutes:
Kelsey Griffin - 29.2 points, 15.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 steals
Dominique Kelley - 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals
Cory Montgomery - 18.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals
Yvonne Turner - 18.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.8 steals
Harleen Sidhu - 15.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Katya Leick - 12.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals
Catheryn Redmon - 11.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.7 blocks
Lindsey Moore - 8.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.8 steals
Kala Kuhlmann - 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals
Layne Reeves - 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals
Nicole Neals - 7.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.6 steals
Jessica Periago - 5.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.9 blocks
Huskers Cleaning Up the Glass
Coming into the 2009-10 season, Nebraska focused much of its attention on improving its performance on the glass. Last season, playing without two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin for the entire year, and without center Nikki Bober for the entire Big 12 season because of injuries, the Huskers owned a negative-1.5 team rebounding margin. In Big 12 play, that number dipped even lower to negative-4.4.
Nebraska's focus is paying dividends, as the Huskers carry a plus-6.3 team rebounding margin, which ranks third in the Big 12, trailing only Baylor (+9.9) and Iowa State (+9.4) - two teams NU outrebounded head-to-head. The Huskers rank 22nd nationally in rebound margin.
Nebraska has outrebounded 22 of its 28 opponents, surpassing the total of 12 foes the Huskers outrebounded in 31 games in 2008-09. Last season, the Huskers outrebounded just five opponents after Christmas, while the 2009-10 Huskers have outrebounded 13 opponents since the holiday break.
Only six opponents have outrebounded NU this season - Miami (34-30), LSU (38-36), at Colorado (36-27), No. 10 Oklahoma State (38-32), at Missouri (34-28) and Iowa State (34-24, Feb. 17). The Huskers posted a Big 12-best plus-16 margin (42-26) against Missouri Feb. 27. NU was plus-14 (40-26) at Texas Tech Jan. 27, and plus-12, 43-31, against Kansas March 3. NU was the first team this season to outrebound Iowa State (Jan. 9), and the Huskers also outrebounded Texas (37-32), and Baylor (47-42) on the Lady Bears' homecourt on Jan. 17. NU produced a plus-six rebound margin in the win over Kansas State on Jan. 23, and a plus-seven (45-38) margin at No. 11 Oklahoma. The Huskers also outrebounded No. 12 Texas A&M (40-37) and Kansas (37-35).
Nebraska's best rebounding season in school history came with a plus-8.6 margin in 1997-98, which is the only season that NU has posted a plus-6.0 margin or better. Griffin has led the Huskers on the glass this season by averaging a Big 12-leading 10.5 boards per game, including 19 double-digit rebound efforts.
Huskers Starting Fast, Finishing Strong
Nebraska's high-powered offense is averaging 39.5 points per game in the first half, including a school-record tying 59 first-half points against Washington State at the Devaney Center on Nov. 22. NU added 53 first-half points in a win over Albany on Dec. 30, 51 against No. 10 Oklahoma State on Feb. 3, and 50 first-half points in the win over No. 19 Texas on Jan. 12.
Nebraska has also been stingy on defense in the first half, surrendering just 27.1 points per first half, as the Huskers have headed to the locker room with an average lead of 12.4 points (39.5-27.1) and have allowed only seven foes to score 30 first-half points (Texas, 44; Missouri, 38; Colorado, 36; Miami, 36; LSU, 34; Kansas State, 34; Kansas-in Lincoln 32).
In fact, Iowa State (Feb. 17) became the sixth Husker foe to be held to 20 or fewer points in the first half this season. NU surrendered just 14 to South Dakota and just 17 to Northern Illinois, while Idaho State (19), Washington State (20) and Kansas (20, Feb. 10) also struggled against NU's pressure defense. Texas Tech (21), UALR (23) and UNLV (23) were also just one possession from being added to that list.
It hasn't gone much better for Nebraska opponents in the second half, as the Huskers have averaged 38.5 points after halftime, while the opposition has managed 29.9 points per second half.
In their 16 home victories, the Huskers averagdc 42.9 points (686 total points) in the first half, while allowing just 26.9 points per first half (431 total points) for an average home halftime lead of 16 points.
Take Cover When the Big Cat Roars
Center Catheryn Redmon is flying up Nebraska's career blocked shot chart as a junior, climbing into third all-time with 128 blocks heading into the regular-season finale at Kansas State.
Danielle Page (207) and Janet Smith (238) are the only two Huskers in front of Redmon on the career block chart.
The top returning shot-blocker in the Big 12, Redmon owns 52 rejections in 441 minutes. She has blocked two or more shots in 16 of NU's 28 contests and is averaging 1.9 blocks in just 16 minutes per game.
Redmon needs seven more blocks to catch Janet Smith (59, 1980-81) in second and nine more to match Danielle Page's junior single-season school record of 60 set in 2006-07.
Last season, Redmon produced one of the best single-season block efforts in school history with 67 rejections as a sophomore in 2008-09. She ranked second on the sophomore single-season list, trailing only Janet Smith's 69 blocks in 1979-80. Redmon is just the third Husker to record 60 or more blocks in a season.
Redmon's 2008-09 single-season mark was even more amazing considering she blocked 64 of her 67 shots on the year in her 24 games as a starter, after blocking just three shots in limited action through NU's first seven games of the season. As a starter, Redmon averaged 2.7 blocks per game, including 2.8 in Big 12 Conference action.
Her conference blocks trailed only All-Americans Courtney Paris from Oklahoma (3.1 bpg) and Danielle Wilson from Baylor (3.0 bpg). In fact, Redmon is the only top-five shot-blocker returning to the Big 12 in 2009-10, as Kansas State's Marlies Gipson and Texas' Ashley Lindsey both departed the league as seniors. Paris was also a senior in 2008-09, while Wilson left the Baylor team following her junior season.
Redmon continued to increase her defensive dominance inside throughout the 2008-09 season, blocking 30 shots in NU's final nine games (3.3 bpg), including one of the top single-game block performances in NU history with a career-high seven rejections in the win over No. 20 Kansas State on Feb. 25.
Redmon's total tied for the second-best mark in school history, trailing only Page's nine blocks against Baylor on Feb. 3, 2007. Redmon added five blocks in a win over Colorado on March 3 and five more at New Mexico in the second round of the WNIT on March 25.
Huskers Seek Seventh Straight Postseason Appearance
Nebraska claimed its sixth consecutive postseason tournament bid with a trip to the 2009 Postseason WNIT. The Huskers claimed three straight bids in the WNIT in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning at least one game in all three trips. Nebraska qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2008, advancing to the second round of the Big Dance in 2008 with a win over Xavier in College Park, Md. Before Coach Connie Yori's arrival at Nebraska for the 2002-03 season, Nebraska had never earned more than three consecutive postseason berths.
Nebraska made its sixth trip to the postseason WNIT in 2009, joining bids in 1992 and 1976. The Huskers have also advanced to seven NCAA Tournaments in school history (2008, 2007, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1993, 1988), dating back to the first full season of varsity women's basketball at Nebraska in 1975-76.
Huskers Battling Another Strong Schedule
The past two seasons, Nebraska has faced the two strongest regular-season schedules in school history with both ranking among the top 25 nationally. The Huskers' 2009-10 schedule strength again ranks among the best nationally, coming in at No. 27 in the CollegeRPI.com strength of schedule rankings on March 4.
Last season, the Huskers faced the No. 23 Strength of Schedule in the country according to CollegeRPI.com, while finishing No. 71 nationally in overall RPI. The 2008-09 Huskers played 19 of their 31 games against 2009 postseason qualifiers, including 11 against NCAA Tournament teams
This season, Nebraska's schedule features 15 regular-season games against 2009 postseason qualifiers, including 10 games against 2009 NCAA Tournament teams.
The Big 12 features an NCAA Tournament-caliber atmosphere every night. The conference sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament as top-six seeds in 2009, and all six teams (No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Baylor, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Iowa State, No. 5 Kansas State, No. 6 Texas) closed the regular season in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25.
Powerful Big 12 Produced Postseason Success in 2009
The Big 12 was rated as the No. 1 RPI league in the nation for the third consecutive season in 2008-09 by CollegeRPI.com. When the field of 64 teams for the NCAA Tournament was announced, six league teams (Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas) earned top-six seeds into the tournament. Three more teams, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma State, claimed spots in the 48-team WNIT field.
The Big 12 matched the Big East Conference by sending four teams to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2009, while Oklahoma and Iowa State both advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. OU went on to the Final Four. In addition to the league's success in the NCAA Tournament, Nebraska earned a bye to the second round of the WNIT, while Oklahoma State went 1-1 in the tournament. Kansas advanced all the way to the WNIT championship game.
All 12 conference teams closed the 2008-09 regular season among the top 126 teams in the CollegeRPI.com rankings of the 341 teams in NCAA Division I. Only Missouri and Colorado ranked outside the top 100.
In non-conference action in 2009-10, the Big 12 flexed its muscles again as the No. 1 RPI conference in the country. All 12 Big 12 Conference teams are ranked among the top 112 nationally in the RPI as of March 4.
Nebraska Benefits From Big 12 Changes in 2009-10
Last season a Nebraska team that was hit hard by injuries battled to a seventh-place tie in the Big 12 Conference standings, finishing with a 6-10 league record against the nation's strongest conference.
Entering the 2008-09 campaign, the Big 12 returned 48 starters from the 2007-08 season. Overall, only 35 letterwinners were lost from the Big 12 schools from the 2007-08 season, while 98 letterwinners returned for 2008-09. This season, just 38 starters return for the 2009-10 season across the 12 league schools, including a league-leading six Huskers. A total of just 53 letterwinners are gone from the conference, including just two Huskers, while 96 letterwinners return, including 11 Huskers.
Last season, the top five Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Iowa State) all featured lineups with more than 375 career starts, while Nebraska ended the year with far and away the most inexperienced starting five, which had just 202 combined career starts.
Baylor lost more than 350 career starts from its lineup last year, while Kansas State and Texas A&M must compensate for the loss of more than 300 combined career starts. Iowa State must replace nearly 300 starts, while Oklahoma needs to not only make up for the more than 200 career starts and the amazing scoring and rebounding production of Courtney and Ashley Paris, but also the unfortunate loss of sophomore shooting guard Whitney Hand to a season-ending knee injury in late-November of this season.
While those five Big 12 teams have drastically new looks in their lineups in 2009-10, the Huskers have been bolstered by the return of Kelsey Griffin to its starting five. Griffin has started 121 games in her NU career. Nebraska also features junior guard Dominique Kelley, who has started 92 straight games to open her career, while senior forward Cory Montgomery made her 60th straight start against Kansas and her 63rd career start overall.
Yvonne Turner started her 89th career game against Kansas, while freshman point guard Lindsey Moore has started the first 28 games of her NU career, and gives the Huskers a starting five with 393 career starts.
Nebraska's experience doesn't end at the starting lineup. Junior Catheryn Redmon gives the Huskers a dominant defensive presence inside. The 6-3 center from Texas started NU's final 24 games last year, while fellow junior guard Kaitlyn Burke started 19 contests a year ago. Senior guard Kala Kuhlmann earned starts in each of NU's first three games this season to give the Huskers 46 additional games of starting experience.
Huskers a Fixture on FSN in 2009-10
Nebraska was a regular on the Fox Sports family of networks in Big 12 action in 2009-10. The Huskers played three nationally televised games on FSN during the first half of the 16-game Big 12 schedule. Nebraska made its national TV debut at Baylor on Sunday, Jan. 17, when the Huskers rolled to a 65-56 win over the No. 9 Lady Bears.
Six days later, Nebraska was back on FSN running to a 71-56 win over Kansas State in front of a school-record crowd of 13,303 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 11 a.m. The Huskers capped their FSN national regular-season appearances with a 71-60 win over No. 12 Texas A&M in front of 10,889 fans at the Devaney Center on Feb. 6. On Saturday, Jan. 30, Nebraska traveled to Boulder and ran to an 80-64 win over Colorado in a Fox Sports Rocky Mountain game. Nebraska's top-10 battle with Oklahoma State on Feb. 3 at 7:05 p.m. was televised on Fox Sports Midwest, as NU rolled to an 88-67 win over the Cowgirls. The Huskers played their final televised regular-season game on Fox Sports Midwest at Kansas on Feb. 10, coming back for a dramatic 67-60 victory.
Nebraska's History of Success at Home
Since the Bob Devaney Sports Center opened in 1976-77, the Huskers are 351-118 (.748) in games played in the arena, including 133-77 (.633) in conference games. Since 2003-04, NU is 87-22 (.799) at the Devaney Center.
NU has posted double-figure home victory totals in seven consecutive seasons, including a perfect 16-0 mark in 2009-10 to stretch the Husker home winning streak to 20 games. NU's longest home winning streak is 29 games.
Fastbreakers to Make Final Regular-Season Bus Trip to K-State
With three bus trips in the books following the trip to Oklahoma, the Fastbreakers will make their fourth and final bus trip of the 2009-10 regular season when the Huskers travel to Manhattan to battle Kansas State on Saturday, March 6. Tip time at Bramlage Coliseum is set for noon. The Fastbreakers added a second bus to Kansas State because of the success of their three previous trips this season to Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma. The cost of the trip to Manhattan is just $50 per person. For more information on the Fastbreaker Booster Club bus trips this season, please contact Connie Renken (450-1785), Donna Boone (429-9563) or Doug Fry (476-5183).
Nebraska to Establish Kathy Branchaud Memorial Scholarship
Nebraska has established the Kathy Branchaud Memorial Women's Basketball Scholarship Fund to honor the life of the former player and Fastbreaker Booster Club board member, who passed away Feb. 11, 2010 at age 58, following a two-year battle with cancer.
Branchaud was honored with a moment of silence before Nebraska's win over Colorado Feb. 20, which was also Nebraska's WBCA Pink Zone game to promote cancer awareness and support people in their fights with cancer.
The Kathy Branchaud Memorial Scholarship will be presented to sophomores, juniors or seniors on the Nebraska women's basketball team. Senior recipients must demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a post-graduate education at the University of Nebraska. Candidates must maintain a 3.2 or above cumulative grade-point average and a preference will be given to the player with most improved rebounding percentage from the previous season.
To contribute to the Kathy Branchaud Memorial Women's Basketball Scholarship Fund, please contact the Nebraska Athletic Development Office at (402) 472-2367.