Huskers Meet Michigan in Big Ten Quarters
No. 3 Seed Nebraska Cornhuskers (20-9, 11-5 Big Ten)
vs. No. 6 Seed Michigan Wolverines (22-8, 10-6 Big Ten)
Friday, March 2, Game 9 (approx. 7:30 p.m.)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis)
Live Video: BTN2Go
(Lisa Byington, Christy Winters Scott)
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (7 p.m.)
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln - B107.3 FM; Omaha - ESPN 590 AM
Free Live Audio: Huskers.com/Huskers & TuneIn Apps
No. 3 Seed Huskers Meet Michigan in Big Ten Quarters
• The Nebraska women’s basketball team opens its pursuit of the Big Ten Conference Tournament title when the Huskers meet No. 6 seed Michigan on Friday at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Huskers, who earned the No. 3 seed with an 11-5 Big Ten mark, claimed a two-day bye into the tournament.
• Nebraska’s opponent in its first game, the 24th-ranked Wolverines advanced to the quarterfinals with a 77-48 win over No. 11 seed Penn State on Thursday nigt's final game in Indianapolis. Nebraska's game with Michigan will be televised by BTN2Go with Lisa Byington on the play-by-play call and Christy Winters Scott providing analysis.
• A live radio broadcast with potential extended pregame coverage starting at 7 p.m. will be available from the Husker Sports Network. Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch team up for their 17th season together on the call. The game will be carried for free on Huskers.com and over the air on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and ESPN 590 AM in Omaha. Free audio also can be found on the Huskers App and the TuneIn App.
• Nebraska enters the tournament as one of the biggest surprises in college basketball this season. The Huskers (20-9) own a 13-game improvement over last season’s team (7-22). The Huskers tied for last in the Big Ten a season ago (3-13), before entering the final day of Big Ten regular-season play on Feb. 25 with a chance at sharing the 2018 conference title.
• Nebraska’s Amy Williams captured Big Ten Conference Coach-of-the-Year honors from both the league coaches and media. Williams, who was the Summit League Coach of the Year in both 2015 and 2016, is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith National Coach-of-the-Year award.
• Sophomore Hannah Whitish earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from both the conference coaches and media. Whitish averaged team bests of 12.7 points, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while knocking down 66 three-pointers on the year. The 5-9 point guard from Barneveld, Wis., is the only Husker to start all 29 games this year.
• Kate Cain earned spots on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team and the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. The 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., averaged 10.3 points and team bests with 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots. She has shattered Nebraska’s single-season block record with 91, while entering the conference tournament as the Big Ten leader in blocks per game. Cain, who was a four-time Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honoree, is a major reason Nebraska leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense.
• In the first meeting between Nebraska and Michigan this season, the Wolverines escaped from Lincoln with a 69-64 overtime win on Jan. 13. Hannah Whitish led the Huskers with 16 points, while Kate Cain added 13 points, four rebounds and three blocks. Nicea Eliely gave Nebraska three players in double figures with 10 points and three assists.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (20-9 11-5 Big Ten)
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - Fr. - C - 10.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - So. - G - 12.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - So. - G - 8.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Sr. - F - 6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Off the Bench
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 10.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
13 - Janay Morton - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg
12 - Emily Wood - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 4.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg
15 - Bria Stallworth - 5-6 - So. - G - 3.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - So. - F - 2.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg
43 - Rachel Blackburn - 6-3 - So. - F - 1.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg
50 - Darrien Washington - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Second Season at Nebraska (27-31)
11th Season Overall (220-140)
#24 Michigan Wolverines (22-8, 10-6 Big Ten)
11 - Jillian Dunston - 5-11 - Sr. - F - 3.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg
30 - Hallie Thome - 6-5 - Jr. - C - 16.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg
3 - Katelynn Flaherty - 5-7 - Sr. - G - 23.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg
10 - Nicole Munger - 5-11 - Jr. - G - 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
20 - Deja Church - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 7.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Off the Bench
5 - Kayla Robbins - 6-1 - So. - G/F - 3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg
14 - Akienreh Johnson - 6-0 - So. - G - 3.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg
22 - KeAsja Peace - 6-3 - So. - F - 1.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg
2 - Priscilla Smeenge - 6-0 - Fr. - G - 1.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg
21 - Samantha Trammel - 6-0 - Jr. - F - 0.2 ppg, 0.2 rpg
15 - Hailey Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 9.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg
Head Coach: Kim Barnes Arico (Montclair State, 1993)
Sixth Season at Michigan (133-71)
22nd Season Overall (403-276)
Scouting The No. 24 Michigan Wolverines
• Coach Kim Barnes Arico brings her Michigan team into the Big Ten quarterfinals after a 77-48 victory over 11th-seeded Penn State on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
• The Wolverines, who improved to 22-8 overall, went 10-6 in regular-season conference play to earn the No. 6 seed and a first-round bye into the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan entered the tournament at No. 38 in the RPI and No. 24 in this week's USA Today/Coaches Top 25.
• Michigan opened Big Ten play with an 8-2 record to improve to 19-4 overall while climbing into the teens in the national rankings. The strong opening of the season by the Wolverines, who went 28-9 overall and 11-5 in the Big Ten last season, included a 69-64 overtime victory over Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on Jan. 13.
• However, Michigan did not receive its first bye in Big Ten play until the last week of the regular season, then got its second bye on the final weekend of the regular season. The Wolverines lost four of five games to open February, including an overtime loss to Purdue, a loss at Rutgers and road losses at Michigan State and Minnesota, sandwiched around a 21-point win over Northwestern.
• Michigan took advantage of its first bye by defeating nationally ranked Maryland 71-65 in Ann Arbor on Senior Day for Katelynn Flaherty and Jillian Dunston on Feb. 22.
• Flaherty, a 5-7 senior guard, earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for the second straight year. She averages 23.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and a team-leading 4.4 assists. An elite shooter, Flaherty has hit 105-of-251 threes (.418) this season and 89.1 percent (123-138) of her free throws. She opened the Big Ten Tournament with 21 points, including 5-of-10 threes, to go along with five assists in the win over Penn State. In the first meeting with Nebraska this season, Flaherty led four Wolverines in double figures with 26 points.
• While Flaherty leads the Wolverines on the perimeter, 6-5 junior Hallie Thome is the focus in the paint. The second-team All-Big Ten center is averaging 16.9 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 62.1 percent from the field and 78.5 percent (106-135) from the free throw line. She also leads Michigan with 43 blocked shots. Thome managed 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in the first meeting with the Big Red.
• Hailey Brown, a 6-1 forward, produced a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting with the Huskers. But the freshman starter suffered a season-ending lower leg injury in the loss to Michigan State on Feb. 11.
• Brown has been replaced in the starting lineup by fellow freshman Deja Church. The 5-10 freshman guard played an instrumental role in Michigan's win over Nebraska on Jan. 13. Church was awarded three free throws with 0.7 seconds left after Nebraska's Nicea Eliely was whistled for a foul after blocking Church's desperation three-point attempt in the corner in front of Michigan's bench. Church stepped to the line and sank all three free throws to send the game to overtime tied at 62. Michigan prevailed in overtime, 69-64, which included two more free throws from Church. She finished with 10 points off the bench. She is averaging 7.1 points and 2.7 rebounds on the season and had nine points and four rebounds in Thursday night's win over Penn State.
• Michigan features two of the conference's most successful role players in senior Jillian Dunston and junior Nicole Munger. Dunston, a 5-11 forward, is one of the Big Ten's best defenders and can guard all five spots on the floor. She also leads Michigan with 9.1 rebounds per game. She is shooting just 37.1 percent this season and is 0-for-5 from three-point range, while also connecting on just 43.5 percent (10-23) of her free throws. But she leads Michigan with 50 steals and ranks second on the team with 109 assists. Dunston had six points and five rebounds in the first meeting with Nebraska. Dunston had two points on her only field goal attempt and managed five rebounds and three assists in Thursday night's win over Penn State.
• Munger, a 5-11 junior guard, is averaging 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Munger has buried 59-of-140 three-pointers (.421) on the season to help Michigan keep the floor spread for Thome and take some pressure off Flaherty. The Huskers held Munger without a field goal in the first meeting, as she finished with just one point, while adding four assists and six rebounds. However, in 2016-17, Munger scored 18 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting in a win over the Huskers in Lincoln. Munger had five points and seven assists in Michigan's win over Penn State on Thursday night.
• Although Michigan does not have a deep bench, especially with the season-ending injury to Hailey Brown, the Wolverines have been getting quality production from sophomores Akienreh Johnson (3.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg), Kayla Robbins (3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and KeAsja Peace (1.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg). All three Wolverines bring size, athleticism and length to provide flexibility off the bench for Michigan.
Nebraska vs. Michigan Series History
• Tonight's meeting with Michigan will be the first in the Big Ten Tournament in history between the two teams. It also will be the first-ever neutral site meeting between the two schools in women's basketball.
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Michigan 11-4, but the Wolverines have won three consecutive games in the series, including a 69-64 overtime win over the Huskers in Lincoln on Jan. 13.
• After trailing 48-44 at halftime in the first meeting this season, the Huskers held the Wolverines to just 11 points in the first 19:59.3 of the second half to take a 62-59 lead into the game's final possession of regulation. The Huskers snuffed out every Wolverine movement on the final possession, until a hurried pass found its way to Deja Church in the corner in front of the Michigan bench. Church, who was blanketed by Nicea Eliely, had her shot blocked by Eliely's forearm while the ball was still in her hand. Although the ball never left her hand as a shot, Eliely was called for a foul and Church calmly stepped to the line and sank all three free throws to send the game into overtime. Michigan outplayed the Huskers in the final period to secure the victory.
• Last season, Michigan posted a pair of double-digit wins, including an 84-51 victory over the Big Red at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Jan. 22). Michigan added an 88-60 win over the Huskers in Ann Arbor (Feb. 23).
• Prior to last year’s Michigan win in Lincoln, the Huskers had won five straight games against the Wolverines, including four by double figures. The average margin of victory in those five games was 17.2 points per game.
• Nebraska is 5-3 all-time against Michigan in Lincoln, dating back to a 118-92 win over the Wolverines on Nov. 28, 1980. The 210 combined points mark the highest-scoring game in Husker history.
• Nebraska was 6-0 against Michigan as non-conference foes from 1980 through 2006, with all six wins by double digits. NU’s average margin of victory in 11 all-time wins against Michigan is 19.2 points per game.
• The Huskers are 6-1 all-time against the Wolverines in Michigan with the only loss coming last season.
• In 15 all-time games with Michigan, only two of the games have been decided by single digits.
Nebraska’s Big Ten Honors
• Amy Williams, Big Ten Coach of the Year (Media, Coaches)
• Hannah Whitish, Second-Team All-Big Ten (Media, Coaches)
• Kate Cain, Big Ten All-Freshman Team (Coaches)
• Kate Cain, Big Ten All-Defensive Team (Coaches)
• Emily Wood, Big Ten Sportsmanship Award
• A win for Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals would be the Huskers’ 21st victory of the season, which would be a plus-14-win improvement from last season (7).
• Nebraska is 10-3 away from home this season, with its only losses to RPI 14 Buffalo (neutral), RPI 20 Maryland and RPI 53 Indiana. The Huskers own top 50 road wins over Iowa (17), Rutgers (41) and Minnesota (46), while adding quality road wins over Michigan State (61) and Drake (77).
• Kate Cain owns the Nebraska season record for blocks with 91, surpassing the previous mark held by Olympic bronze medalist Danielle Page (78, 2007-08). Cain has a block in all 29 games this season.
• Cain’s 91 blocks rank No. 7 in the nation while her 3.1 blocks per game rank eighth in the country through games Feb. 25. No Nebraska individual has ever averaged 2.0 blocks per game in a career, and only two Huskers (Danielle Page, 2.4 bpg, 2007-08; Catheryn Redmon, 2.5 bpg, 2010-11) have ever averaged 2.0 blocks per game in a single season.
• Cain enters the Big Ten Tournament needing five more blocks to match the previous top two totals by Husker freshmen (54, Janet Smith, 1979; 42, Kathy Hagerstrom, 1980) combined.
• Nebraska’s Taylor Kissinger came off the bench throughout Big Ten play as one of the top freshman scorers and over sixth players in the conference. The 6-1 guard from Minden, Neb., is averaging 10.3 points per game on the year. She averaged a team-best 14.0 points per game over the first seven games this season as a starter before missing Nebraska’s final six non-conference contests with a knee injury.
• Kissinger (10.3 ppg) and Cain (10.3 ppg) have a chance to become just the second pair of Husker freshmen and the first since 1982-83 to each average double figures in the same season, joining Debra Powell (15.4 ppg) and Crystal Coleman (12.3 ppg).
• Kissinger needs three three-pointers to move into a tie for third on Nebraska’s freshman season three-point list with 51. Hannah Whitish is No. 2 on that list with 57 in 2016-17.
• Junior Maddie Simon (+6.5 ppg) is one of the Big Ten’s most improved players in 2017-18. Simon, a 6-2 forward, is averaging 10.6 points per game after averaging 4.1 points through all 29 games a year ago.
Nebraska’s Path at the Big Ten Tournament
• The Nebraska women’s basketball team earned the No. 3 seed and a double-bye for the 2018 Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis this week. The Huskers, who finished the regular season with an 11-5 conference mark and a 20-9 overall record, will open their seventh Big Ten Tournament on Friday night against the winner of Thursday night’s game between No. 6 Michigan and either No. 11 Penn State or No. 14 Illinois.
• Nebraska’s game on Friday will be the final contest on the tournament’s third day in Indianapolis. The Huskers will tip off 25 minutes after the conclusion of the 5:30 p.m. (CT) quarterfinal game that involves No. 2 seed Maryland and either No. 7 Indiana or No. 10 Michigan State.
• The Huskers, who will try to advance to their third Big Ten Tournament Championship Game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since joining the league in 2011-12, could have a path that presents huge opportunities. Nebraska could have a chance to avenge an overtime loss to then-No. 23 Michigan on Jan. 13 (69-64). The Huskers led the Wolverines 62-59 before Nicea Eliely was called for a foul on a Deja Church three-point attempt with 0.7 seconds left. Church hit all three free throws to send the game to overtime.
• If Nebraska can get past the quarterfinals, the Huskers could face a Maryland team that escaped with a pair of narrow victories over the Big Red in February. NU’s first loss to the Terrapins came in Lincoln on Feb. 4, when the No. 11 Terps escaped with a 64-57 win. In the final game of the regular season, the Huskers took the Terps to the brink. After trailing by 14 points in the third, the Huskers rallied to take a one-point lead on a Hannah Whitish three with 48 seconds left at the XFINITY Center in College Park. Maryland regained a two-point lead before Whitish got a clean look at a three from the right wing in the closing seconds. Her shot hit back iron and caromed off to give the Terps a 77-75 win and the No. 2 seed.
• No. 7 seed Indiana is also a potential foe for the Huskers in the semifinals, and the Hoosiers handed Nebraska an 83-75 loss in Bloomington (Feb. 17). It was NU’s first loss in a true road game this season.
• If the Huskers can advance to Sunday, they could meet No. 13 Ohio State, which earned the tournament’s No. 1 seed after claiming the Big Ten regular-season title with a 13-3 record. The Buckeyes opened Big Ten play with a 73-61 win over the Huskers at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln (Dec. 28).
Williams Named Naismith Coach of the Year Semifinalist
• Nebraska’s Amy Williams was named a semifinalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Basketball College Coach-of-the-Year award by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Feb. 21.
• The second-year Husker head coach has led one of the nation’s top turnarounds, guiding the Big Red to a 20-9 overall record that included an 11-5 conference mark. Nebraska has put up a 13-game improvement in the win column over its 7-22 record a year ago.
• Just one year after tying for last place in the 14-team Big Ten, the Huskers went into the final day of conference regular-season play in contention for a share of the regular-season title.
• Williams was recognized as the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the league coaches and media on Monday, Feb. 26.
• The only Big Ten Conference coach listed among the 10 semifinalists for the Naismith National Coach-of-the-Year award, Williams joins Geno Auriemma (UConn), Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State), Jeff Walz (Louisville), Kelly Graves (Oregon), Kim Mulkey (Baylor), Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame), Robin Pingeton (Missouri), Karen Aston (Texas) and Joni Taylor (Georgia) among the contenders for the honor.
Lining Up A Husker Dance Card
• Nebraska’s 13-game turnaround matches Rutgers for the biggest swing in the win column in the nation this season.
• Nebraska Coach Amy Williams is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year.
• NU’s top five scorers are all scheduled to return for the Huskers next season, including freshmen Kate Cain (10.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.1 bpg) and Taylor Kissinger (10.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and sophomores Hannah Whitish (12.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.0 apg) and Nicea Eliely (8.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg), along with junior Maddie Simon (10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
• Nebraska is one of only four Big Ten Conference teams to produce 10 or more victories away from home this season. In the Big Ten, only Maryland has a better road winning percentage (11-3, .786) than Nebraska (10-3, .769). Iowa, which Nebraska swept both home and away in 2018, is also 10-3 (.769) away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Big Ten regular-season champion Ohio State is 11-4 (.733).
• Eight of Nebraska’s 13 away games have come against top-80 RPI teams, with the Huskers owning a 5-3 record in those contests.
• Nebraska is 19-6 with Maddie Simon on the court this season. Simon missed four games (Creighton, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Clemson) with a significant ankle sprain suffered in warm-ups before the game with Creighton (Nov. 19). Simon missed the rest of NU’s games in November and the Huskers went 1-3.
• Taylor Kissinger missed Nebraska’s final six non-conference games with a knee injury suffered late in the game with Clemson (Nov. 30). Kissinger averaged a team-best 14.0 points per game through the first seven contests this season.
• Sophomore wing Nicea Eliely missed Nebraska’s first three games this season with a foot/ankle injury that kept her off the court for the last two weeks of October and the first two weeks of November.
• Senior guard Janay Morton, a projected starter, missed Nebraska’s first six games this season after undergoing offseason foot surgery. She missed eight games overall and played just 37 total minutes in non-conference play while recovering from the injury that kept her off the court for all of August, September and October. Over the last five games of the regular season, Morton averaged 10.2 points per game.
• Nebraska’s full team did not have its first full practice together until Dec. 26 because of the injuries to Morton, Eliely, Simon and Kissinger.
• Sophomore guard Hannah Whitish (46) owns the longest current streak of consecutive starts by a Husker. Nebraska’s second-longest streak is 28 games by freshman Kate Cain.
• Whitish is the only Husker to start all 29 games this season.
• Nebraska has featured the same starting lineup in 21 consecutive games (15-6 record).
• Whitish has posted at least one assist in 31 consecutive games, and has three or more assists in 27 games this season.
• Kate Cain has blocked at least one shot in each of the first 29 games of her career. She has 24 games with two or more blocks.
• Cain has at least two rebounds every game this season.
• Maddie Simon has at least three rebounds in all 25 of her games this season.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 309 straight regular-season games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008.
• Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 188 consecutive games.