No. 18 Huskers Head Home to Host Gophers, Boilermakers
There are many things in life that I hope never end. Bright, sunny days in the spring, a great movie on a Friday night or a great family vacation are among the things that come to my mind. Something else I hope never ends is watching Emily Cady play basketball in a Nebraska uniform. I know Em will graduate next year, but it’s truly been a pleasure to watch her perform these past three years. She has been the glue that has pushed Nebraska to two straight NCAA Tournaments and a Sweet 16.
Look up the word ‘clutch’ in a dictionary and you’ll see a picture next to it of her buzzer-beating three-pointer to force triple-overtime against Purdue her freshmen season. Do you want to talk about consistency? It seems that Cady has been in the starting lineup forever. She’s started all 82 games of her impressive career. She’s playing her best basketball right now, putting together back-to-back double-doubles and posting a season-high 19 points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds in Sunday’s 75-56 Husker victory at Illinois.
Cady fills up the stat sheet. With her next steal, she’ll become just the ninth Nebraska player ever to attain 800 points, 600 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 steals in a career. Cady has scored in double figures in 14 of Nebraska’s 15 games this season and joins teammates Jordan Hooper and Hailie Sample to make the Huskers one of only two Big Ten teams with three rebounders ranked among the Top 15 in the league.
Cady has made 15 straight free throws, the third time this season she has had a streak of 10 or more straight makes. Cady and Hooper have combined to sink 29-of-32 free throws in NU's three conference games. As a team, Nebraska ranks fifth nationally in team free throw percentage (.790) and is third in the nation in the fewest fouls committed per game (14.0).
After splitting two games on their most recent road trip, the Huskers return home for a two-game home stand. Nebraska takes on Minnesota Thursday night at 8 p.m. (central) at the Pinnacle Bank Arena before hosting Purdue Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Minnesota (12-5, 1-2 Big Ten) blew out Northwestern 94-59 Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers shot 9-of-20 (.450) from three-point range and held the Wildcats to just 3-of-17 shooting from beyond the arc. Minnesota also took advantage of Northwestern fouls, making 29-of-35 from the foul line. The Gophers lost their first two league games to Michigan State and at Iowa.
Preseason first-team All-Big Ten junior guard Rachel Banham continues her outstanding career at Minnesota. A nominee on every National Player-of-the-Year watch list, Banham was the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and is on pace to surpass former Gopher, WNBA champion and USA Olympic point guard Lindsay Whalen as Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer. Banham was a first-team All-Big Ten choice and an honorable-mention All-American as a sophomore despite chronic knee pain caused by patellar tendinitis. She had surgery in June to ease the discomfort and has returned in fine form, leading the league in scoring (21.8 points). Banham is shooting a blistering .479 (44-of-93) from three-point range, second in the Big Ten behind Nebraska’s Sadie Murren. Banham posted her fifth career double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Northwestern Sunday.
Minnesota boasts the league’s leading scorer in Banham and the Big Ten’s leader in rebounds and blocked shots in 6-5 redshirt freshman center Amanda Zahui B (commonly pronounced ZOW-ee with the lone B silent). The Stockholm, Sweden native notched the fourth triple-double in Gopher history with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks against Kansas earlier this season. Zahui B, who dropped 20 pounds since her first season in the program, is second on the team in scoring (14.9 points) and adds a league-high 11.3 rebounds and 53 blocked shots.
Senior captain Sari Noga, a 5-10 guard, is a good spot-up three-point shooter and has knocked down 37-of-91 (.407) from beyond the arc this season. She hit four threes and posted a season-high 17 points in Sunday’s win over Northwestern. Noga averages 7.6 points per game.
Another Gopher senior captain, 6-2 forward Micaella Riche, was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection in 2012-13. She was Minnesota’s second-leading scorer last year (13.2 points). The emergence of Zahui B has reduced Riche’s offensive numbers, but she still adds 7.6 points per game. Sophomore Shayne Mullaney rounds out Minnesota’s probable starting lineup. The 5-10 guard adds 7.4 points per game and leads the team in assists and steals.
Pam Borton is in her 12th season as Minnesota coach. She has won more games than any coach in Golden Gopher history and took them to the Final Four in 2004. This season’s team leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage (.434) and is ranked 13th (.468) in overall team field goal percentage. Minnesota has made exactly the same number of three-pointers as their opponents (96), but the Gophers have hit those shots in an astonishing 117 fewer attempts.
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Minnesota 8-6 after sweeping the two-game series last season. NU notched its first-ever win at Williams Arena in Minneapolis 84-63 on Jan. 20, 2013. Nebraska owns a 7-2 edge over Minnesota in Lincoln after knocking off the Gophers 80-56 on Super Bowl Sunday 2013. Jordan Hooper scored a game-high 27 points and Tear’a Laudermill tied her then-career high with 14 points. Nebraska outscored Minnesota 31-7 in points off turnovers in the game in Lincoln.
Purdue entered Big Ten play with a solid 10-2 mark, with its only losses coming to top-five teams, Duke and Stanford. However, the Boilermakers started Big Ten play 0-2, falling to Ohio State in Columbus and Northwestern in Evanston. A weather cancellation of Purdue’s conference home opener against Indiana forced the Boilermakers to start league play with three straight road games. Purdue was able to avoid an 0-3 league start by winning at Penn State 84-74 Sunday afternoon. That game marked the first of four games in eight days for the Boilermakers, culminating in the upcoming Sunday afternoon tilt in Lincoln. Purdue hosts Michigan Wednesday night and makes up the postponed game against the Hoosiers Friday night in West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue lost veteran senior forwards Drey Mingo, Sam Ostarello and Chantel Poston from last season’s team and the one non-senior who played post last year, Taylor Manuel, left the program this summer, making this year’s squad very perimeter-oriented. The Boilermakers have an -0.7 team rebound margin compared to plus-7.8 a year ago. Purdue is last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (.422), but leads the league in three-point field goals per game (7.4).
Lincoln native and Southeast High product KK Houser returns for her senior season at Purdue. She leads the team in scoring (15.9 ppg), assists and steals. Another 5-6 senior guard Courtney Moses was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and adds 15.3 points per game. Former Husker Catheryn Redmon’s sister Camille has started the last two games at forward for the Boilermakers and posted her first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss at Northwestern.
Eighth-year Purdue Head Coach Sharon Versyp is a former Boilermaker point guard and has led her alma mater to four Big Ten Tournament championships and two NCAA Elite Eight appearances. Purdue is the reigning Big Ten Tournament champion, knocking off Michigan State 62-47 in the title game last March at the Sears Centre Arena in suburban Chicago.
Don’t leave the arena early or turn off the broadcast before the end of regulation Sunday. Three of the four all-time meetings between Purdue and Nebraska have gone overtime. Last season’s regular-season meeting in Lincoln was at the time the shortest game of the then three-game series, with Purdue winning in overtime 69-66. NU won 93-89 in triple-overtime in 2012 in West Lafayette, while the Boilermakers won 74-70 in double-overtime in the Big Ten Tournament title game in Indianapolis later that season. In the last meeting between the two teams, the game surprisingly ended in regulation, with Purdue defeating the Huskers 77-64 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals last March.
I cordially invite you to join Jeff Griesch and me for Nebraska women’s basketball on the Husker Sports Network. Our radio broadcast Thursday evening begins with the pre-game show at 7:45 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 8:00 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, KHAS 1230 in Hastings, KNEB 94.1 in Scottsbluff, KSID 1340 in Sidney, KHUB 1340 in Fremont, KRGI 1430 in Grand Island, KODY 1240 and KTZL 93.5 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!