No. 18 Huskers Open Big Ten Play with Northwestern
Where did 2013 go? Where did the non-conference schedule go? Wow is time flying by!
The 18th-ranked Nebraska women’s basketball team closed out the non-conference portion Sunday afternoon in spectacular fashion, opening the game by scoring 24 unanswered points en route to beating Oral Roberts 89-53.
Senior All-American Jordan Hooper moved into fifth place on NU’s career scoring list with 30 points and added 11 rebounds. It was Hooper’s eighth career 30-point game and 32nd career double-double. Nebraska exploded for a school-record 62 first-half points and knocked down a season-high 12 three-pointers.
The Huskers head into Big Ten play with a 10-2 record and will open 2014 and conference play Thursday night at 8 p.m (central) when they host the Northwestern Wildcats at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Northwestern heads into Big Ten play with a 10-3 record. The Wildcats split two games last weekend in the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic. On Saturday, Northwestern led Indiana State 62-57 with 3:13 left and after giving up an 8-0 run, rallied to tie the game with nine seconds left on Lauren Douglas’ three-pointer. However, ISU hit a three-pointer just before the final horn to give the Sycamores the win.
Northwestern finished third in the tournament, defeating Northeastern 73-46 on Sunday. Freshman guard Christen Inman registered a career-high 27 points, the most by any Wildcat player this season. Sophomore guard Maggie Lyon added a season-high 20 points, including five three-pointers.
Northwestern is a very young team. This season’s starting five has consistently featured three freshmen. In fact, only one player who has played for the Wildcats this season played against Nebraska two seasons ago at the Devaney Center, the last time the two teams faced each other in Lincoln.
Nia (KNEE-uh) Coffey, a 6-1 freshman, is the highest-ranked recruit in Joe McKeown’s six years as Wildcats’ coach. The basketball lineage runs deep in her family. Coffey’s father Richard led the Big Ten in rebounding for Minnesota in 1988 and went on to play one season with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Her sister Sydney is a sophomore starter at Marist, a traditional NCAA Tournament qualifier. Coffey’s brother is also considered a top high school prospect.
Last summer, Coffey was a member of the USA team that won a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships. She has started every game this season and leads Northwestern with 15.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Her 33 blocked shots in 13 games are just three fewer than the entire Nebraska team has blocked in 12 games. She had 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in Sunday’s win over Northeastern.
Sophomore Maggie Lyon led all Big Ten freshmen in scoring last season and was named the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The 6-1 guard ranks second on this season’s Wildcat team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and leads the team with 27 three-pointers. Christen Inman, a 5-10 freshman guard, had a great debut in her first collegiate game, making all 10 of her free throws against Illinois-Chicago. She has started 12 games and averaged 12.8 points per contest.
Ashley Deary, a 5-4 freshman point guard, hails from the same home town as Husker Hailie Sample - Flower Mound, Texas. The two met twice in the 2010-11 high school season as Sample’s Marcus team defeated Deary’s Flower Mound High’s team by 12 points early in the season and Flower Mound winning at Marcus later in the season. Deary left Flower Mound High School as the school’s all-time leading scorer. She has started all 13 games for Northwestern this season and leads the team and is second in the Big Ten in assists (6.5 apg) and steals (2.6 spg). She adds 7.2 points per game.
Alex Cohen rounds out the Wildcats’ probable starting lineup. The 6-5 junior has averaged 7.0 points and 5.7 rebounds and is second on the team in blocked shots (25).
Statistically, these two teams are a complete contrast in defensive styles. According to the latest NCAA statistics, Northwestern is second nationally in blocked shots (7.2 per game) while Nebraska ranks 166th (3.0 bpg). The Wildcats have 141 steals in 13 games (28th nationally), compared to Nebraska’s 73 steals in 12 games (279). However, Northwestern has an overall negative team rebound margin (-5.4 rpg) compared to the Huskers’ +9.1 (32nd nationally).
One similar number is the stingy nature of both team’s defense. The Wildcats rank 14th nationally in field goal percentage defense (.333), while Nebraska ranks a solid 53rd (.359), which is a remarkable number considering the Huskers rank fifth nationally in fewest fouls per game (13.9).
Joe McKeown is in his sixth season as head coach at Northwestern. He spent most of his 28-year career at George Washington where he was a five-time Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year during his 19 years at the Washington, D.C. school. A 1979 graduate of Kent State, McKeown still holds the school single-game assist record when he dished out 15 assists against Bowling Green in 1978 for the Flashes.
Nebraska has won the last two games against Northwestern, and the Huskers lead the all-time series 6-2. Nebraska defeated the Wildcats 55-50 last February in Evanston. The teams split two games in 2012 with the Wildcats winning the regular season meeting in Lincoln 63-51. The Huskers flew past Northwestern 88-56 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, racing to a 41-10 lead in the first 13 minutes.
I cordially invite you to join Jeff Griesch and me for Nebraska women’s basketball on the Husker Sports Network. Our radio broadcast Thursday night begins with the pre-game show at 7:45 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 8:01 p.m. on the Husker Sports Network including KBBK (B107.3) in Lincoln, KFFF 93.3 in Omaha,KRVN 880 in Lexington, KCOW 1400 in Alliance, KNEB 94.1 in Scottsbluff, KBRB 1400 in Ainsworth, KRGI 1430 In Grand Island, KHUB 1340 in Fremont, KBLR 97.3 in Blair, KODY 1240 and KTLZ 93.5 in North Platte, KRFS 103.9 in Superior, 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!