Huskers to Battle Boilermakers Thursday
#6 Nebraska Cornhuskers
vs. #11 Purdue Boilermakers
Thursday, March 7, 2019, approx. 7:45 p.m. (CT)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (20,000) - Indianapolis
Live TV: BTN (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
Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn
Huskers Open Big Ten Tournament with Purdue Thursday
• The Nebraska women’s basketball team hopes to begin a post-season run at the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
• Nebraska (14-15, 9-9 Big Ten) claimed the No. 6 seed in the 14-team tournament following a 79-74 victory at Penn State to close the regular season on Saturday.
• The Huskers will face No. 11 seed Purdue (8-10 Big Ten, 18-14). The Boilermakers worked their way to a 72-60 win over No. 14 seed Illinois on Wednesday afternoon. Illinois finished its season 10-20.
• Live radio coverage (beginning at 7 p.m.) can be heard in Lincoln on B107.3 FM, in Omaha on ESPN 590 AM, and across the state on the Husker Sports Network. Free live audio can be found at Huskers.com, the Huskers App and on TuneIn.
• Live television coverage will be provided by BTN with Lisa Byington on play-by-play, Christy Winters Scott providing analysis and Vera Jones on the sideline.
• Nebraska will take aim at its fourth win in the last five games, as the Huskers are playing their best basketball heading into the tournament. NU won four of its last six regular-season games with its only losses to conference champion and No. 8 Maryland and Big Ten runner-up and No. 10 Iowa.
• The .500 league finish by the Huskers marked the seventh time in eight Big Ten seasons since joining the conference in 2011-12 that Nebraska has finished .500 or better in the final standings.
• Nebraska went 3-0 this season against Purdue (2-0) and Illinois. The Huskers defeated Purdue at West Lafayette on Jan. 31, before completing the season sweep of the Boilermakers in Lincoln on Feb. 10.
• Nebraska has won at least one game in five of its first seven Big Ten tournaments and owns a 9-6 all-time record in the conference tournament. The Huskers won the Big Ten Tournament title in 2014 and advanced to the championship game in 2012.
• The Huskers went 9-4 against the No. 4 through No. 14 seeds in Big Ten regular-season play but 0-5 against the top three seeds (Maryland-2, Iowa-2, Rutgers).
• Nebraska entered the week at No. 79 in RealTimeRPI.com rankings with the No. 24 Strength of Schedule in the nation and No. 2 schedule strength in the Big Ten, trailing only Iowa (No. 15).
• Although Nebraska is below .500 on the season, the Huskers have fought hard down to the wire, with a school-record 13 games decided by two possessions or less. Unfortunately, the Huskers are just 4-9 in games decided by six or fewer points, including 3-6 in Big Ten play.
• Nebraska has won its last two games decided by two possessions, including a 79-74 win at Penn State in the regular-season finale and a 67-61 win over Purdue (Feb. 10).
• Nebraska only has five double-digit losses (Louisville, Maryland-2, Iowa, Miami) and all five have come to teams that have been ranked in the top 15 in the AP rankings this season.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-15, 9-9 Big Ten)
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 3.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 7.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 10.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - G/F - 9.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Off the Bench
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 8.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 7.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg
11(out) - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 2.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Third Season at Nebraska (42-48); 12th Season Overall (235-157)
Purdue Boilermakers (18-14, 8-10 Big Ten)
25 - Tamara Farquhar - 6-0 - So. - F - 6.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg
32 - Ae’Rianna Harris - 6-1 - Jr. - F - 13.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg
1 - Karissa McLaughlin - 5-7 - So. - G - 15.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg
11 - Dominique Oden - 5-8 - Jr. - G - 14.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg
23 - Kayana Traylor - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 6.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Off the Bench
3 - Lyndsey Whilby - 5-11 - So. - G - 3.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg
5 - Cassidy Hardin - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 2.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg
45 - Fatou Diagne - 6-4 - RJr. - C - 1.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg
30 - Nyagoa Gony - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 1.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Head Coach: Sharon Versyp (Purdue, 1989)
13th Season at Purdue (275-161); 19th Season Overall (392-226)
Scouting The Purdue Boilermakers
• Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp brought Purdue into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 11 seed before defeating No. 14 Illinois on 72-60 on Wednesday. The Boilermakers improved to 18-14 overall after going 8-10 in regular-season Big Ten play.
• The Boilermakers were 2-8 in their last 10 regular-season games after opening Big Ten play 6-2. Two of Purdue’s eight Big Ten losses since Jan. 27 came to Nebraska. One of Purdue’s two wins in February came with a 72-50 victory over Illinois in West Lafayette, Ind. (Feb. 7).
• Over the last 10 regular-season games, Purdue averaged just 59.2 points per contest, after scoring 62.8 points through the first eight conference games. On the defensive side, Purdue allowed just 58.9 points through the first eight league games, but has surrendered 67.3 over the last 10 contests.
• Purdue is 5-10 away from Mackey Arena this season, while going 13-4 at home.
• Sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin earned first-team All-Big Ten honors by averaging 15.1 points and 3.8 assists on the year. McLaughlin, who leads the Boilers with 83 threes, averaged a league-high 38.8 minutes per game in Big Ten play. She has hit 38.1 percent of her threes on the year and 89.8 percent of her free throws. McLaughlin averaged 13.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists against Nebraska this season.
• Ae’Rianna Harris, an athletic 6-1 forward, was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season in 2019. Harris leads the Big Ten with 98 blocks, while adding 35 steals. She averaged 13.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in the regular season to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors. In the two meetings with Nebraska this season, Harris has averaged 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.0 steals.
• Dominique Oden, a 5-8 junior guard, claimed honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition after averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals. In two games against Nebraska, Oden has averaged 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals.
• Tamara Farquhar, a 6-0 sophomore forward from Quebec, joined McLaughlin, Oden and Harris in Purdue’s starting lineup for all 18 conference games. Farquhar averaged 5.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals against Nebraska.
• Kayana Traylor was Purdue’s fifth starter in 14 Big Ten games. The 5-9 freshman suffered an ankle sprain in the first quarter in the Boilermakers’ first meeting with Nebraska, but returned to the starting lineup for the second game with the Big Red. In two games, Traylor averaged 3.0 points, 1.0 rebound and 2.0 turnovers in 15.0 minutes against the Huskers.
• Sophomore Lyndsey Whilby stepped up in place of Traylor against Nebraska, averaging 8.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals against the Huskers. Whilby, who scored just 46 points in 18 conference games, got 17 points in two games against Nebraska. She scored 14 points in Purdue’s Big Ten Tournament first-round win over Illinois.
• Lincoln High graduate Nyagoa Gony, a 6-2 freshman forward, played in 15 Big Ten regular-season games and 29 overall this season. She had nine points and 15 rebounds in league play.
Nebraska vs. Purdue Series History
• Purdue leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 7-6, but the Huskers have won three consecutive games, including a 67-61 win in Lincoln (Feb. 10) and an 84-64 win at Purdue (Jan. 31).
• In the most recent meeting with Purdue, Husker freshman and Indiana native Leigha Brown erupted for a career-high 30 points. In the first meeting this season, Husker junior Hannah Whitish poured in a season-high 28 points and dished out a career-high 12 assists.
• Purdue is 2-0 against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament, including a 74-70 (2OT) win in the Big Ten Championship Game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 4, 2012. Purdue’s other league tournament win over Nebraska came at the Sears Center Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., March 9, 2013.
• Nebraska, which is 3-2 all-time in West Lafayette, escaped with a 62-61 win over the Boilermakers on Jan. 20, 2016. The series is tied 3-3 in Lincoln.
• Although six of the last eight games have been decided by double digits, the first three games in the series were all two-possession thrillers that went a combined six overtimes. In the first-ever meeting between the two schools in Nebraska’s inaugural season in the Big Ten, the Huskers defeated Purdue 93-89 in triple-overtime on Feb. 2, 2012.
• In the first meeting between the two teams in Lincoln, Purdue notched a 69-66 overtime win over Nebraska on Jan. 5, 2013.
• The Husker bench has outscored opponent benches in 27 of 29 games this year with the only exceptions coming in losses at Michigan (37-20, Feb. 7) and at No. 7 Maryland (22-19, Feb. 14).
• Nebraska’s bench has outscored the opponent bench by double digits 20 times, including a 30-1 edge in the loss to No. 12 Iowa (Feb. 25).
• Overall, Nebraska’s bench has outscored opposition benches 920-475 (31.7-16.4 ppg) for a plus-15.3 margin.
• Nebraska’s bench has scored 40 or more points seven times, including 45 at Arkansas, 43 at Penn State, 42 points against San Jose State, 41 points against Drake, 40 against Denver, 40 at Illinois and 40 at Purdue (Jan. 31).
• In Nebraska’s Big Ten-opening win over Michigan (Dec. 28), the Husker bench outscored the Wolverine bench 28-10, including 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
• In Big Ten play, NU’s bench has outscored opponent benches 563-317 (31.3-17.6, +13.7 ppg).
• Nebraska’s bench scored at least 15 points in each of its 18 Big Ten games, including at least 35 points on six occasions.
• Nebraska’s bench scored at least 15 points in each of its 18 Big Ten games, including at least 35 points on six occasions.
• At least one Nebraska freshman has led the Huskers in scoring in 17 of 29 games this season (Haiby-9; Brown-6; Veerbeek-2).
• Nebraska hit 11 three-pointers in the first meeting with Purdue this season - an 84-64 win at West Lafayette, Ind. (Jan. 31).
• Through the first 20 seasons with the three-point shot in women’s basketball (1998-2007), Nebraska had hit 10 threes in a game only six times in school history. Last year, Nebraska knocked down 10 or more threes a school-record eight times in 32 games, while the Huskers have hit 10 or more threes six times in 29 games in 2018-19.
• Kate Cain owns Nebraska’s longest streak of consecutive starts (60).
• Nicea Eliely owns Nebraska’s second-longest streak of starts (55).
• Eliely is the only Husker to score in all 29 games this season, and the only Husker to score in each of Nebraska’s 18 Big Ten Conference contests. She has scored in 33 consecutive games overall. She did not score in a win over Penn State on Feb. 22, 2018, the only time in the past two seasons (58 games) that she has been shut out.
• Junior Hannah Whitish scored in double figures seven straight games for Nebraska from Jan. 17 (at Illinois) to Feb. 7 (at Michigan) - the longest streak of the season for any Husker.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three in 341 straight games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 220 consecutive games.
Nebraska Numbers to Watch
• (1) Hannah Whitish is one steal away from 100 in her career.
• (1) Kate Cain is one block away from tying Danielle Page (78, 2007-08) for the No. 2 season block total at Nebraska. Cain owns the single-season school record with 100 blocks last year.
• (4) Ashtyn Veerbeek needs four blocks to tie for the No. 5 total by a freshman in school history (31). She enters the Big Ten Tournament with 27 blocks on the season.
• (4) Taylor Kissinger needs four rebounds to reach 200 in her career.
• (6) Kate Cain needs six rebounds to reach 400 in her career.
• (7) Nicea Eliely is seven points away from 700 in her career.
• (8) Eliely needs eight steals to reach 60 on the year. Eliely (52) is the first Husker to record 50 steals in a season since All-American Lindsey Moore (60) in 2012-13.
• (8) Freshman Kayla Mershon is eight points away from 100 this season.
• (11) Freshman Sam Haiby (289) is 11 points away from 300 this year.
• (12) Mershon is 12 rebounds away from 100 this season.
• (22) Freshman Leigha Brown (278) is 22 points away from 300 on the year.
• (43) Hannah Whitish (957) is 43 points away from 1,000 in her career.
Freshmen Contributing Early for Huskers
• Nebraska has received production early and often from its 2018-19 freshman class. The four-player class, which was ranked among the top 20 recruiting classes in the nation by ESPN last season, features Sam Haiby (10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.6 apg), Leigha Brown (9.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.4 apg), Ashtyn Veerbeek (7.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Kayla Mershon (3.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg).
• Nebraska’s class ranks second nationally in total points with 865, trailing only Alabama State’s eight-player freshman class (1,206). Utah (3rd, 810) and Ohio State (6th, 696) are other Power Five conference teams with high-scoring freshman classes.
• Haiby, a 5-9 guard from Moorhead, Minn., ranks second overall among the Huskers with 10.0 points per game off the bench. Haiby, who was the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week (Feb. 4), has led Nebraska in scoring in nine games, including 17 points against Indiana (Feb. 3). She closed the regular season with 16 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, in Nebraska’s 79-74 win at Penn State (March 2). Haiby added 16 in a win over No. 23 Minnesota (Jan. 20). She also had 13 points in a road win at Purdue (Jan. 13), and scored a team-high 12 in a loss to No. 12 Iowa (Feb. 25). Haiby scored a season-high 20 points at Washington State (Nov. 16), while also leading the Huskers with 16 at Arkansas (Dec. 18). She put up 17 points at Creighton (Dec. 2), 14 at Miami (Nov. 23) and 13 against Drake (Nov. 7).
• Haiby owns 14 double-figure scoring efforts overall, including 12 points at No. 5 Louisville (Nov. 29), 12 more in a win over Michigan (Dec. 28), 11 at No. 7 Maryland (Feb. 14) and 11 more at Northwestern (Feb. 21).
• Haiby also ranks second among the Huskers in assists (2.6 apg).
• Leigha Brown, who earned Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honors (Jan. 7) and a spot on the Big Ten Honor Roll after her 30-point outburst against Purdue (Feb. 10), ranks third among the Huskers with 9.6 points per game, including 10.2 points per Big Ten game. She added 20 points at No. 19 Iowa (Jan. 3). It was her second straight game leading the Huskers, after scoring a then-career-high 19 points at Ohio State (Dec. 31). She added 18 points and a career-high six rebounds against Rutgers (Jan. 13). She also had 18 points in the win over San Jose State (Dec. 8), before adding 17 points and a career-high five assists in the win over Denver (Dec. 15).
• Brown, a 6-1 wing from Auburn, Indiana owns 10 double-figure scoring efforts and has led the Big Red in scoring six times this season, including four Big Ten games.
• Ashtyn Veerbeek ranks third among the Husker freshmen in scoring with 7.1 points per game, while leading the freshmen and ranking second on the team with 5.5 rebounds. Veerbeek erupted for a career-high 19 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds in the win at Illinois (Jan. 17). She produced her first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in a win over San Jose State (Dec. 8). Veerbeek just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds in a road win at Purdue (Jan. 31). She added eight points and 10 rebounds in just 15 minutes at Penn State (March 2). She had 14 points in 14 minutes in a win over Denver (Dec. 15) and added 14 points for the third straight game at Arkansas (Dec. 18). She owns seven double-digit scoring efforts on the year. She also ranks second among the Huskers with 27 blocks.
• Kayla Mershon has pitched in 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. She has made 13 consecutive starts. Mershon scored a career-high eight points against No. 9 Maryland (Jan. 8) and matched that mark with eight points at Penn State (March 2). She added seven points against the Terps (Feb. 14). She also had seven points against Rutgers (Jan. 13). She had a career-high seven rebounds in a win over Kansas (Dec. 5) and matched that total against Northwestern (Jan. 24). The 6-3 forward from Chanhassen, Minn., owns 25 assists and has committed just 12 turnovers.
• The freshmen have combined for 41.2 percent (865-of-2,100) of Nebraska’s points in just 36.6 percent of the team’s total minutes (2,139-of-5,850) on the season. They also have accounted for just 29.7 percent (131-of-441) of Nebraska’s turnovers.
• Nebraska’s four freshmen are combining to average 29.8 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.
Whitish Earns All-Big Ten Recognition
• Preseason All-Big Ten guard Hannah Whitish closed the regular season by earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition as a junior.
• Whitish led the Huskers with 10.1 points and 4.3 assists per game on the season, including a team-best 11.3 points per Big Ten game.
• She erupted for a season-high 28 points at Purdue (Jan. 31). Whitish added a career-high 12 assists to notch her first career double-double. She also tied a career high with six threes in the win over the Boilermakers.
• Whitish’s 12 assists tied for the ninth-best total by a Husker in school history. Only three players in Nebraska history [Rachel Theriot (4), Kathy Hawkins (3), Stacy Imming (1)] have had more than 12 assists in a game.
• Whitish’s career high of 29 points came last season in back-to-back non-conference wins at Kansas and Drake.
• Whitish owns a team-best 48 career double-figure scoring efforts, including a team-high 17 in 2018-19 and 18 in 2017-18. She owns five career 20-point performances, including three in 2017-18.
• She has climbed to No. 3 on the Nebraska career three-point list with 192, moving ahead of current WNBA guard Yvonne Turner (183, 2007-10).
• Whitish leads the Huskers with 62 three-pointers on the season, which is tied for the third-best total by a junior in school history.
• She enters the Big Ten Tournament needing 47 points to reach 1,000 in her career.
• Whitish scored in double figures for seven straight games before being shut out by a focused defensive effort from Purdue (Feb. 10). In the seven-game stretch, Whitish averaged 15 points per game and shot 43.6 percent (24-55) from three-point range. She also averaged 5.3 assists over those seven contests.
• Whitish has climbed to No. 9 on the Nebraska career assist list with 359, and she is 33 away from catching fellow Wisconsin native and state player of the year Anna DeForge at No. 8 on that list (392, 1995-98).
• Nebraska’s growth in the backcourt in 2017-18 started with Whitish, who earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in her first full season as a starter. The 5-9 guard from Barneveld, Wis., led the Huskers in scoring (12.6 ppg), assists (4.7 apg), steals (1.3 spg) and three-pointers (2.3 pg), as the only Husker to start all 32 games in 2017-18.
• She scored in double figures a team-leading 18 times in 2017-18 for a balanced Big Red attack.
• Whitish helped power Nebraska to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals by scoring 17 points while pulling down a team-high seven rebounds in a win over Michigan in the quarterfinals (March 2).
• In her first NCAA Tournament appearance, Whitish scored 12 points and hit a pair of three-pointers against Arizona State (March 17) in Austin, Texas.
• Whitish tied a career high with eight rebounds while adding nine points and a game-high five assists in the win over Penn State (Feb. 22, 2018).
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