Saturday, Dec. 21, 2:30 p.m. (central)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Neb.)
Live Video: BTN.com All-Access
Radio: Husker Sports Network
(Matt Coatney-PBP; Jeff Griesch-Analyst)
107.3 FM-KBBK, Lincoln; 93.3 FM-KFFF, Omaha; 1310 AM-KGMT, Beatrice/Fairbury; 1400 AM-KCOW, Alliance: 94.5 FM-KLIQ, Hastings; 94.1 FM-KNEB, Scottsbluff; 1400 AM-KBRB-Ainsworth; 1340 AM-KSID, Sidney; 1340 AM-KHUB, Fremont; 97.3 FM-KBLR, Blair; 1240 AM-KODY, North Platte
Internet: Free live audio on Huskers.com
When Nebraska faces Creighton in women’s basketball, I usually expect to find a strange number or oddity on the final statistics that you wouldn’t normally see in any other game. In last Saturday’s matchup, there were several. Nebraska pulled down 39 rebounds, but only had one offensive rebound. Nebraska made 17 free throws to only one for the Bluejays. Usually when Jordan Hooper only scores five points and the Huskers post 63 points, you wouldn’t expect a 25-point win, but that’s exactly what happened. Hooper’s 15 rebounds and a Husker defense that held CU to 4-of-35 shooting in the second half paved the way for a 63-38 Nebraska win.
It was the fewest points Creighton had scored in any game in 13 years and the lowest point total for any Bluejay team against NU since 1975. Emily Cady had 14 points to lead the Huskers, who take an 8-2 record into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against South Dakota at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
South Dakota entered the week with a 6-5 record and a four-game winning streak heading into Thursday night’s game in Vermillion against College of Saint Mary. The Coyotes picked up their second road win last week when they knocked off South Dakota School of Mines 81-49 in Rapid City.
USD opened the season with a 66-57 win at Cal State-Fullerton, and then lost four of their next five games, including road losses at Iowa State and Creighton. During each game of their current four-game winning streak, South Dakota has eclipsed the 80-point plateau. In their last game, an 87-67 victory over Northern Iowa on Dec. 10, USD made 16-of-17 free throws and outrebounded the Panthers 44-28.
Nicole Seekamp, a 5-10 junior guard, has significant international experience and was the captain of the South Australian U-20 National Team. Last season’s Summit League Tournament MVP exploded for a career high 33 points in a post-season WBI Tournament win over Utah State and averaged 21 points in six postseason games. Seekamp earned preseason first-team All-Summit League honors for the Coyotes, who were picked to finish third in the conference race. She currently leads USD in scoring (16.0 ppg), assists, steals, blocks and minutes per game. Seekamp also leads a good-shooting Coyote team at the foul line, making a team-high 54-of-63 free throws (.857).
Raeshel Contreras, a 5-7 junior guard, has not started any of South Dakota’s 11 games, but gives the Coyotes an explosive offensive threat off the bench. Despite averaging just over 19 minutes per game, the transfer ranks second on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg) and leads the team in three-pointers (17). She was named first team all-conference last season for Foothill College (Calif.). Contreras scored a season-high 21 points in the win last week over Northern Iowa.
Senior Polly Harrington started her career at Louisville where she played 16 games. The Kansas City, Mo., native transferred to Johnson County (Mo.) Community College for her sophomore season and then immediately made an impact for USD last year, starting 35 games. This season, the 5-11 forward was named preseason second-team All-Summit League. She ranks third on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg) and averages a solid 5.6 rebounds per game.
Another Coyote who gives strong production off the bench is 6-2 sophomore Margaret McCloud. She had a career-high 18 points and earned her fifth career double-double with 10 rebounds in only 18 minutes in USD’s win over Utah State on Dec. 5. McCloud leads South Dakota with 6.2 rebounds and averages 7.9 points per game.
Tia (TYE-uh) Hemiller has emerged as a solid starter at point guard in her sophomore season. She has big shoes to fill, as USD lost three-year starter Alexis Yackley to graduation after handing out 445 assists in her career. One of five Coyotes to start all 11 games this season, Hemiller is tied for second on the team in three-pointers and is shooting a blistering .560 on 14-of-25 attempts from beyond the arc. She adds 7.8 points per game.
Junior forward Lisa Loeffler (LOFF-ler) started the final 18 games last season, and like Hemiller has started every game this year. Heidi Hoff, a 5-10 sophomore, rounds out USD’s probable starting five. Named Miss South Dakota Basketball as a high school senior in 2012, Hoff averages 4.8 points per game.
It’s always great to have a former Husker return to Lincoln, even if it’s on the opponent’s bench. Second-year USD coach Amy (Gusso) Williams was an Academic All-Big 12 Conference honoree her senior year for Nebraska in 1998. She had been an assistant coach at Nebraska-Kearney, Texas-San Antonio, Oklahoma State and Tulsa before being named the first head coach at Rogers State University. She started the program from scratch and won 97 games in her five seasons, including a 2012 trip to the NAIA Final Eight. In her first season at USD last year, Williams took the Coyotes to the Summit League Tournament championship game and the postseason WBI semifinals, winning 19 games.
The Huskers’ 10-game series with South Dakota goes back to a 98-26 Nebraska win in 1975. NU leads the all-time series 9-1, including a 77-38 win in Lincoln in their last meeting in 2009.
One of the most talked about issues in the early season through the world of women’s basketball is the focus on calling the hand check on the perimeter. This emphasis by officials on freedom of movement this season has resulted in an increase in fouls assessed. Points are up almost six points per game nationally over last year.
Nebraska has used the emphasis to its advantage, ranking fourth nationally in fewest fouls per game (13.5). Their opponents have committed 79 more fouls than the Huskers and NU has outscored the opposition 190-63 at the free throw line. Nebraska ranks eighth in the nation in team free throw percentage (.788).
For fans attending Saturday’s game in Lincoln, because of the conversion from UNL Commencement Exercises (9 a.m. start), doors to Pinnacle Bank Arena will not open until 1:30 p.m. (60 minutes prior to the 2:30 p.m. tip-off) rather than the regular 90 minutes prior to tip.
I cordially invite you to join Jeff Griesch and me for Nebraska women’s basketball on the Husker Sports Network. Our radio broadcast Saturday afternoon begins with the pregame show at 2:15 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on the Husker Sports Network including KBBK (B107.3) in Lincoln, KFFF 93.3 in Omaha, KGMT 1310 in Beatrice/Fairbury, KCOW 1400 in Alliance, KLIQ 94.5 in Hastings, KNEB 94.1 in Scottsbluff, KBRB 1400 in Ainsworth, KSID 1340 in Sidney, KHUB 1340 in Fremont, KBLR 97.3 in Blair, KODY 1240 in North Platte, and many others. All Husker women’s basketball broadcasts are also available for free worldwide on the internet at www.huskers.com. I hope you can join us.
There are a number of ways to get enhanced information about our broadcast and Husker Women’s Basketball via social media. You can learn more about the team on the Nebraska Women’s Basketball Facebook page or follow the team on their official Twitter page @huskerswbb. I also invite you to friend me on Facebook (Matt Coatney) or follow me on Twitter @coatman1.
Go Big Red!