Huskers to Meet No. 3 Maryland Wednesday
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Maryland Terrapins
Wednesday, Jan. 4, 7 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Live Video: BTN Plus
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln - B107.3 FM, Omaha - ESPN 590 AM
Free Live Audio: Huskers.com/Huskers App/TuneIn App
Huskers to Meet No. 3 Maryland Wednesday
The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena to take on No. 3 Maryland on Wednesday night.
Tip-off between the Huskers (4-10) and the Terrapins (13-1) is set for 7 p.m., with tickets available now at Huskers.com. Tickets also will be available the night of the game at the Pinnacle Bank Arena Box Office beginning at 5:30 p.m.
A live radio broadcast will be produced by the Husker Sports Network. Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch will call the action on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and ESPN 590 AM in Omaha. Free audio also can be found on Huskers.com, the Huskers App and TuneIn App. A live video stream will be available to premium subscribers of BTN Plus with the radio call of Coatney and Griesch accompanying the in-arena video production.
Although the Huskers are 0-2 in Big Ten play, they have have lost their first two games by a combined seven points battling in one-possession games to the final seconds against Northwestern (13-2, 2-0) and at Iowa (10-5, 1-1).
Through Monday’s games, Nebraska owned the nation’s No. 6 strength of schedule, and Maryland will be the Huskers’ fifth opponent this season that currently owns 13 or more wins.
The Terps opened conference play on New Year’s Day with an 83-72 win at Minnesota to improve to 13-1 overall with their lone loss coming in an 87-81 setback to No. 1 UConn on Dec. 29. Big Ten Co-Player-of-the-Week Brionna Jones led Maryland with 27 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four steals at Minnesota. That performance followed a 19-point, 13-rebound effort in the loss to UConn. The 6-3 senior center comes to Lincoln averaging 18.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Jones will go head-to-head with Husker sophomore Jessica Shepard, who is averaging 18.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the Big Red. The 6-4 forward from Fremont is averaging 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds through two Big Ten games, including a season-high-tying 28 points at Iowa on Dec. 31.
Nebraska is 0-5 all-time against Maryland in a series that dates back to the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. In two meetings in Lincoln, Nebraska has lost by an average of 23.5 points, including a 75-47 setback in the only previous meeting at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 3, 2015.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-10, 0-2 Big Ten)
32 - Jessica Shepard - 6-4 - So. - F - 18.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg
22 - Allie Havers - 6-5 - Sr. - C - 6.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 8.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 6.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 5.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Off the Bench
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - So. - G - 4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
11 - Esther Ramacieri - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg
12 - Emily Wood - 5-5 - Jr. - G - 2.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg
50 - Darrien Washington - 6-2 - So. - F - 2.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
2 - Rylie Cascio Jensen - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 2.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Fr. - F/G - 1.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
First Season at Nebraska (4-10); 10th Season Overall (197-119)
No. 3 Maryland Terrapins (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
42 - Brionna Jones - 6-3 - Sr. - C - 18.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg
3 - Kaila Charles - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 9.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg
5 - Destiny Slocum - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 11.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg
12 - Kristen Confroy - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 4.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg
32 - Shatori Walker-Kimbrough - 5-11 - Sr. - G - 16.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Off the Bench
34 - Brianna Fraser - 6-3 - So. - F - 6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg
14 - Jenna Staiti - 6-6 - Fr. - C - 5.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg
1 - Ieshia Small - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 4.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg
24 - Stephanie Jones - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 4.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg
15 - Kiah Gillespie - 6-2 - So. - F - 4.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
22 - Blair Watson - 6-0 - Fr. - G - 3.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg
21 - Sarah Myers - 6-0 - Fr. - G - 2.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Head Coach: Brenda Frese (Arizona, 1993)
15th Season at Maryland (384-109); 18th Season Overall (441-139)
Scouting No. 3 Maryland
Maryland comes to Lincoln after climbing to No. 3 in both The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top 25 this week. The Terrapins are 13-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play for Coach Brenda Frese, who is in her 15th season at the helm of the program. She led the Terps to the NCAA title in 2006 and added Women’s Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015. Maryland also won Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships in its first two seasons in the conference in 2015 and 2016.
Senior Brionna Jones leads the Terrapins to Pinnacle Bank Arena averaging team bests of 18.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, while adding team defensive bests with 29 steals and 18 blocked shots. The 6-3 center has won a pair of Big Ten Player-of-the-Week awards this season (Dec. 12, Jan. 2). She is shooting 66.3 percent from the field and 75.9 percent at the free throw line.
Jones, who is expected to make the 100th start of her career on Wednesday, is joined in the starting lineup by fellow senior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. The 5-11 guard is averaging 16.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Walker-Kimbrough, who is shooting 54.7 percent from the field, including 38.8 percent from three-point range, is also hitting 84.5 percent of her free throws. She owns 86 career starts for the Terrapins.
Destiny Slocum, a 5-7 freshman guard, is one of two newcomers in the Maryland starting five. She is averaging 11.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and a team-best 4.4 assists per game. She is shooting a team-best 42.9 percent from three-point range with a team-high 27 made threes.
Kaila Charles, a 6-1 freshman guard, adds size on the wing for the Terps while contributing 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in just 22.1 minutes per game.
Junior Kristen Confroy, a 5-9 junior guard, rounds out the starting lineup with 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Confroy also owns a team-best 4.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while shooting 37.2 percent from three-point range and 85.7 percent from the free throw line.
The Terrapins, who brought in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class as freshmen in 2016-17, have featured a deep and talented bench that has included 6-6 freshman center Jenna Staiti (5.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg), 6-2 freshman forward Stephanie Jones (4.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg), and 6-0 freshman guards Blair Watson (3.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Sarah Myers (2.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg). Ieshia Small, a 6-0 junior guard who transferred from Baylor, has added 4.9 points and 1.9 boards off the bench, while 6-3 sophomore forward Brianna Fraser has contributed 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds to lead the Terp reserves in both categories.
Kiah Gillespie, a 6-2 sophomore forward, rounds out Maryland’s contributors off the bench with 4.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Overall, Maryland’s active roster features six players who were either McDonalds, WBCA or Parade High School All-Americans, including Gillespie (McDonalds, Parade), Small (McDonalds), Watson (McDonalds, WBCA), Charles (McDonalds, WBCA) and Slocum (McDonalds, WBCA). However, three of Maryland’s five starters (Brionna Jones, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Kristen Confroy) were not high school All-Americans.
Maryland’s high-powered offense is averaging 89.9 points per game, while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from three-point range. The Terrapins have knocked down 71.7 percent of their free throws. They have outrebounded their opponents by a whopping 16.4 rebounds per game and own a plus-6.0 team turnover margin. The have outscored their opponents by an average of 31 points per game by allowing just 58.9 points per contest.
Maryland leads the all-time series with Nebraska 5-0, and the Huskers have never played the Terrapins within in single digits. The two schools met for the first time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at College Park, when the Terps battled to a 76-64 win on March 25, 2009.
Five seasons later, Maryland managed a 90-71 win at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln as the ACC’s representative against the Huskers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 28, 2012.
The two teams met as Big Ten foes for the first time at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 3, 2015, when the Terps rolled to a 75-47 win, before the Huskers fell 59-47 just over a month later (Feb. 8, 2015) in College Park. The Terps went on to a pair of Big Ten titles and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Last season, Maryland marched to an 89-50 win over the Huskers in College Park.
• Jessica Shepard leads the Huskers with averages of 18.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. She produced her 17th career double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener with Northwestern (Dec. 28). Shepard’s next double-double will place her in a tie for ninth on Nebraska’s career double-doubles list with 1998 All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge (18, 1995-98).
• Shepard owns seven double-doubles this season, including a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds against San Jose State (Dec. 9). She had 23 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Drake (Dec. 6), 25 points and 14 rebounds at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1), 24 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Colorado State (Nov. 17), 22 points and 13 rebounds at Creighton (Dec. 18), and 17 points and 15 rebounds in a win over UTRGV (Nov. 12).
• Shepard owns seven 20-point scoring efforts through 14 games, including season highs of 28 points at Iowa (Dec. 31) and against San Jose State (Dec. 9). She owns 23 career 20-plus scoring games in 43 career contests.
• Shepard ranks second among the Huskers in three-point field goals made (16), including a game-clinching three with one minute left in the win over Colorado State on Nov. 14, and a 60-foot heave at the first-half buzzer in the win over UTRGV on Nov. 12. She also beat the first-half buzzer with a three at Creighton (Dec. 18).
• Nebraska freshman Nicea Eliely ranks second on the team in scoring (8.5 ppg), third in rebounding (4.5 rpg), second in assists (2.9 apg) and first in steals (1.7 spg), blocked shots (0.7 bpg), field goal percentage (.505) and three-point field goal percentage (.423) through the first 14 games of her collegiate career.
• Freshman Hannah Whitish is averaging 13.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals in two Big Ten games as a starter for the Huskers.
Huskers Facing Experienced Coaches
Iowa’s Lisa Bluder was the third in an amazing stretch of head coaches the Huskers are facing midway through the 2016-17 campaign. Bluder, who is in her 33rd season as a head coach and 17th season at Iowa, owns 689 career wins and was the third consecutive coach Nebraska faced with more than 600 victories and 30 years of head coaching experience. She followed Northwestern’s Joe McKeown, who owns 651 career victories in 31 seasons as a head coach.
Nebraska’s six-game stretch against highly successful coaches began with the legendary Geno Auriemma, who owns 968 wins in his 32 seasons at UConn.
In the three-game stretch, Auriemma, McKeown and Bluder combined for 2,308 wins in 96 combined seasons as head coaches.
Nebraska’s next three opposing coaches have all notched at least 400 wins as head coaches, beginning with Maryland’s Brenda Frese (441 wins) and Michigan State’s Suzy Merchant (416) before facing Naismith Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer (975) and Rutgers. Stringer is in her 46th season as a head coach and 22nd season at Rutgers.
Overall, the six coaches have amassed 4,140 wins in 182 seasons as head coaches.
Shepard Leads Big Red on B1G Stage
• Sophomore Jessica Shepard owns 17 career double-doubles, including seven this season. Her most recent double-double came with 17 points and 15 rebounds against Northwestern on Wednesday. She had 22 points and 11 rebounds at Creighton on Dec. 18. She had a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds in a win over San Jose State on Dec. 9. She added 23 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Drake on Dec. 6. It followed a 25-point, 14-rebound performance in a loss at unbeaten Virginia Tech on Dec. 1. She also had 24 points and 13 rebounds in Nebraska’s 62-59 win over Colorado State on Nov. 17. She opened the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds in a win over UTRGV on Nov. 12.
• Through 14 games, Shepard is averaging team bests of 18.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. She also ranks second on the team with 16 three-pointers, including a game-clinching three with one minute left against Colorado State and a 60-footer at the first-half buzzer in the win over UTRGV. She added a first-half buzzer-beater at Creighton. The 6-4 sophomore forward had not hit a collegiate three-pointer prior to this season.
• Shepard earned Preseason All-Big Ten honors when the conference announced its preseason awards on Oct. 24. Shepard was one of two sophomores on the coaches preseason all-conference team, joining Penn State guard Teniya Page. Shepard was the lone sophomore honored by the media on its 10-player preseason team.
• Shepard became the first freshman in Nebraska history to earn first-team all-conference honors. She produced school freshman-record averages of 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 2015-16.
• Shepard became the first Husker in history to earn conference freshman-of-the-year accolades. The 6-4 forward from Fremont, Neb., joined Emily Cady (2012) and Rachel Theriot (2013) as Huskers who earned spots on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in Nebraska’s first five seasons in the conference.
• Shepard set a conference record by winning 10 Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week awards.
Huskers Establishing Solid Starting Five
• One of Coach Amy Williams’ primary objectives early in the season was to find a starting five from a relatively inexperienced group of Huskers. Only seven players on Nebraska’s active roster have ever started a game for the Huskers, with five of them starting 20 or fewer contests.
• Although Jessica Shepard is just a sophomore, she owns a team-high 43 career starts, including 29 in 31 games as a freshman.
• A three-year contributor on the court, 6-5 senior Allie Havers adds 35 career starts to Nebraska’s level of experience in 2016-17.
• Only three other returning Huskers had ever started a game for Nebraska before this season, including Jasmine Cincore (20 career), Esther Ramacieri (16) and Maddie Simon (5), while true freshmen Nicea Eliely (14) and Hannah Whitish (2) have made their first career starts this season.
• Overall, Nebraska owns just 135 career starts. In comparison, Maryland’s active roster owns a collective 261 starts with a combined 185 career starts coming from Brionna Jones (99) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (86).
• Nebraska sent nine different starting lineups onto the floor in 2015-16.
• The longest stretch Nebraska was able to play with a consistent starting five in 2015-16 was eight games (Game 2 vs. North Florida, Nov. 16 - Game 9 at California, Dec. 12).
• Three times (2003-04, 2006-07, 2011-12) in the last 14 seasons, Nebraska’s starting five has hit the floor for every game together, and five more times the Huskers have only featured six different starters in a season (2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14).
Nebraska Ranks Near Top in Attendance
• Nebraska closed the 2015-16 season ranked No. 9 nationally in total attendance (102,682) and No. 12 in NCAA Division I in average home attendance (5,404). It marked the third consecutive season inside Pinnacle Bank Arena that the Big Red have ranked among the top 12 nationally in both categories.
• In 61 all-time home games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Huskers own a 47-14 record (.770 winning percentage) while averaging 5,695 fans per game (347,420 total fans/61 games).
• Nebraska attracted a non-conference school-record crowd of 9,750 to open its stay in the building with a win over UCLA on Nov. 8, 2013.
Big Red To Battle One of Nation’s Best Schedules
• Nebraska will likely face the toughest overall schedule in school history in 2016-17. The Huskers will play 10 games against NCAA Tournament teams and 11 more regular-season games against Postseason WNIT teams in 2016-17.
• Through Monday’s games, Nebraska’s strength of schedule ranked No. 6 nationally. NU’s 14 opponents owned a cumulative record of 139-53 (.724 winning percentage), including unbeaten records for No. 1 UConn (13-0) and No. 18 Virginia Tech (14-0).
• No. 3 Maryland (13-1) will be Nebraska’s fifth oppenent with 13 or more wins this season and ninth opponent that has already amassed double-digit victories joining No. 18 Virginia Tech (14-0), No. 1 UConn (13-0), California (13-1), Northwestern (13-2), Virginia (11-3), Missouri (11-4), Iowa (10-5) and UTRGV (10-6). Three other Husker opponents entered the week with nine wins, including Creighton (9-4), Drake (9-4) and Colorado State (9-5).
• Through non-conference play, Nebraska’s Strength of Schedule ranked No. 12 by RPIRatings.com. NU’s schedule strength was No. 2 in the Big Ten, trailing only Minnesota. Nebraska, Minnesota and Rutgers were the only three Big Ten teams to enter conference play with a top-25 strength of schedule. Six Big Ten teams entered league play with strength of schedules below 100, including Purdue (204), Maryland (203), Indiana (176), Northwestern (167), Ohio State (155) and Wisconsin (114).
• Nebraska’s appearance in the 2016 Preseason WNIT to open the year featured three games against postseason foes, including NCAA Tournament teams Missouri and Colorado State.
• Virginia, Virginia Tech, Drake and Creighton all competed in the 2016 WNIT and the Huskers will play three of those games on the road. Nebraska closes non-conference play at home against UConn, which has won four consecutive NCAA titles.
• A total of 13 of Nebraska’s 16 Big Ten Conference games will come against postseason foes, including seven games against NCAA qualifiers and six more against WNIT teams from a year ago.
• Nebraska’s 16-game regular-season home schedule will feature 13 games against postseason teams, including all eight Big Ten Conference home games.
• Nebraska senior Allie Havers has competed in 110 consecutive games since the first game of her freshman season in 2013-14. The Huskers own a 69-41 record in those contests over the last four years.
• Junior Jasmine Cincore owns the longest streak of consecutive starts among the Huskers with 19. Havers has made 17 straight starts, while freshman Nicea Eliely and sophomore Jessica Shepard have each started 14 straight games this season. Hannah Whitish has made back-to-back starts.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 265 straight regular-season games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008.
• Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 144 consecutive games.
• Nebraska has had at least two players earn first- or second-team All-Big Ten honors in each of its first five seasons in the Big Ten.
• Nebraska finished with a 9-9 Big Ten record to mark the fifth consecutive season the Huskers have posted a .500 or better Big Ten record. Nebraska is the only Big Ten team with a .500 or better record in each of the last five seasons. In fact, no other Big Ten team has had four straight .500 marks. The only other team with three straight .500 or better Big Ten seasons is Minnesota, which went 11-7 in both 2015 and 2016 after going 8-8 in 2014.
Pump Up the Program
• Nebraska earned its fifth straight postseason tournament bid with a trip to the 2016 WNIT. The Huskers were one of only 21 Division I teams to earn four consecutive NCAA Tournament bids from 2012 through 2015.
• The Huskers have produced seven 20-win seasons in the last 10 years. Nebraska owns 16 20-win seasons in program history.
• Nebraska is the only team in the Big Ten to post a .500 or better conference mark in each of the last five years. Minnesota is the only other Big Ten team to do it each of the last three seasons.
• The Huskers, who joined the Big Ten in 2011-12, have averaged 10.6 conference wins per season since joining the conference. The Big Red have added eight Big Ten Tournament wins for 61 total victories over Big Ten foes during the past five years (12.2 wins per season).
• Nebraska has ranked among the top 12 schools nationally in average home attendance in each of the Huskers’ first three seasons at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Big Red have ranked among the top 10 nationally in total home attendance in each of the first three seasons at the arena, including 102,682 fans in 2015-16.
• Nebraska set a season ticket sales record with 4,032 season tickets sold as of Jan. 31, 2016. It marked the first time in school history the Huskers sold 4,000 season tickets. Nebraska’s season ticket number for 2016-17 was 3,980 as of Dec. 21, 2016.
• Nebraska featured six first-team academic All-Big Ten selections in 2015-16, including returning Huskers Jasmine Cincore, Allie Havers and Emily Wood.
Shepard Shoots For More as Sophomore
• Jessica Shepard has her sophomore season off to a strong start averaging 18.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. She has produced seven double-doubles, including 17 points and 15 rebounds in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener against Northwestern on Dec. 28. She had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Creighton (Dec. 18). That followed a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds against San Jose State (Dec. 9), 23 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against Drake (Dec. 6), 25 points and 14 rebounds at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1), 24 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Colorado State (Nov. 17), and 17 points and 15 boards in a win over UTRGV (Nov. 12).
• Shepard owns 17 career double-doubles to rank 10th on Nebraska’s career chart in that category. Her next double-double will move her into a tie for ninth at Nebraska with All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge, who had 18 double-doubles for the Huskers from 1995 to 1998.
• Shepard has seven 20-point efforts this season, including a season-high 28 points in the win over San Jose State (Dec. 9). She matched her season high with 28 points to go along with eight rebounds at Iowa (Dec. 31). She had 25 points at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1) and against Washington State (Nov. 25). She scored 24 points against Colorado State (Nov. 17), before going for 23 points, including 22 in the second half, against Drake (Dec. 6). Shepard owns 22 career 20-point games in her first 44 games as a Husker.
• Shepard ranks second among the Huskers with 16 three-pointers on the season, including a game-clinching three in the win over Colorado State and a buzzer-beating 60-footer to close the first half in the win over UTRGV. She also hit a first-half buzzer-beater at Creighton. Shepard did not hit a three-pointer as a freshman.
• Nebraska’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Shepard became the first Husker in history to earn first-team all-conference honors as a freshman in 2015-16. During the season, she set a conference record by winning 10 Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week awards. She was also a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week (Dec. 21, Jan. 25).
• One of only two freshmen on the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 in 2015-16 (joining Cal’s Kristine Anigwe), Shepard was the USBWA National Freshman of the Week (Dec. 22, 2015; Jan. 26, 2016). Shepard was the espnW and College Sports Madness National Player of the Week (Jan. 25).
• Shepard finished 10th overall in the Big Ten in scoring (18.5 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (8.6 rpg), including fourth on the offensive glass (3.1 rpg) and 10th on the defensive boards (5.5 rpg). She ranked 13th in conference field goal percentage (.510).
• The 6-4 forward from Fremont, Neb., finished with Nebraska freshman record averages of 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Her 574 total points were a Nebraska freshman record, while her 266 rebounds ranked second among freshmen in Husker history.
• She amassed 16 games with 20 or more points as a freshman, including 11 in Big Ten play. She produced the first of two 35-point performances against Northern Arizona Dec. 19, 2015. She added 35 points at Michigan, Jan. 24. She scored in double figures 25 times.
• Shepard averaged just 4.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in 20 minutes per game over the final two games of 2015-16 as she battled a stress reaction in her foot. She did not practice March 1-17, while she rested the injury.
• Shepard was not cleared for her first full practice until Oct. 27, 2015, after suffering an ACL tear as a high school senior on Dec. 29, 2014. On Nov. 1, she had 29 points and 12 rebounds against Nebraska-Kearney in NU’s exhibition opener. She added 42 points and 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes in a second exhibition against Winona State on Nov. 8.
• She was the top recruit in Nebraska history, as the No. 1 post and No. 3 overall recruit in the nation by ESPN. A first-team Parade All-American as a high school senior despite missing nearly all of her final year (ACL tear, Dec. 29, 2014), Shepard was the 2013 and 2014 Nebraska High School Player of the Year. Shepard averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 rebounds while helping the USA Basketball U18 Team to a 5-0 record and a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas Championship.
Freshmen Contributing Early
• Nebraska’s four-player freshman class of Rylie Cascio Jensen, Nicea Eliely, Grace Mitchell and Hannah Whitish have been looked to for immediate contributions on the Huskers’ 11-player active roster.
Nicea Eliely, 6-1, Guard, Colorado Springs, Colo.
• Eliely, a 6-1 guard out of Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, has started all 14 games and is averaging 8.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
• Eliely produced a career-high 19-point performance in a loss to California on Dec. 4. She hit 8-of-13 shots from the field including 2-of-3 three-pointers against the Bears. She added two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
• She added her second career double-figure scoring effort with 13 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in a win over San Jose State on Dec. 9. She hit 6-of-9 shots from the field against the Spartans.
• Eliely contributed her third double-figure performance with 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals at Iowa on Dec. 31.
• In her Big Ten debut against Northwestern (Dec. 28), Eliely finished with seven points, seven rebounds, and team highs of five assists, two blocks and two steals.
• She earned her first career start in Nebraska’s season-opening win over UTRGV on Nov. 12. Eliely performed well with nine points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals against the Vaqueros, while also drawing the primary defensive assignment on 2016 WAC Player-of-the-Year Shawnte’ Goff.
• Eliely played Nebraska’s best all-around game in the loss to No. 25 Missouri on Nov. 14. She finished with eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal against the Tigers. She also hit her first career three-pointer against the Tigers.
• She was even better in Nebraska’s win over Colorado State, contributing six points, six rebounds and a career-high six assists to go along with three steals. She also helped frustrate and foul out 2016 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Ellen Nystrom.
• She had one of Nebraska’s best all-around games with seven points, five rebounds, four assists and a block in the loss to No. 1 UConn on Dec. 21.
• Eliely added nine points, six rebounds, two assists and a career-high four steals in Nebraska’s win over Omaha on Nov. 22. She scored nine more points while adding three rebounds, a block and a steal at Virginia Tech on Dec. 1.
• Eliely was a Colorado Class 5A performer as a senior in 2015-16. Ranked as the No. 25 guard in the nation by ESPN and the No. 143 player in the nation by Blue Star, Eliely averaged 21.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.4 steals and 2.0 blocks per game as a senior for the Rams.
Hannah Whitish, 5-9, Guard, Barneveld, Wis.
• Whitish, a 5-9 guard from Barneveld, Wis., was the Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.5 steals as a senior. The five-time first-team All-Wisconsin selection led Barneveld High School to four consecutive state championship game appearances including a pair of state titles. She led her team to a 110-4 record in her career, while ranking among the top 10 in Wisconsin High School history in career points with well over 2,000.
• Whitish was Nebraska’s top contributor off the bench in non-conference play before making her first career start in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener with Northwestern (Dec. 28). Whitish, who started in place of injured senior Esther Ramacieri against the Wildcats, scored a then-career-high 12 points and added four assists in a then-career-high 27 minutes against Northwestern.
• She added a career-high 14 points in a career-high 28 minutes while adding four rebounds, a team-high four assists and two steals at Iowa on Dec. 31. She tied a career high with a trio of three-pointers against the Hawkeyes.
• Through 14 games, Whitish is averaging 6.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 18.4 minutes per contest. Whitish also leads the Huskers with 20 three-pointers this season (20-54, .370).
• Whitish owns four double-figure scoring efforts this season. As a starter, she is averaging 13.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 27.5 minutes per game.
• She played arguably Nebraska’s best individual game with nine points on a career-high three three-pointers, while adding two rebounds, two assists, no turnovers and a steal in 19 minutes against No. 1 UConn on Dec. 21.
• In her Husker debut, Whitish scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting with a three-pointer, while adding two assists, one steal and no turnovers in the win over UTRGV on Nov. 12.
• Whitish played a huge role in Nebraska’s win over Colorado State, finishing with her first career double-figure scoring performance. Her 10-point effort in the win over the Rams included a career-high three three-pointers with the final triple coming on a cast from the deep left wing with one second on the shot clock to give Nebraska a 58-55 lead with 1:48 left. She added a free throw with 18 seconds left to seal the 62-59 win.
• Whitish added her second straight double-figure scoring performance with 10 points and career highs of five assists and two steals in Nebraska’s win over Omaha on Nov. 22.
Rylie Cascio Jensen, 5-10, Guard, Fremont, Neb.
• Cascio Jensen, a 5-10 guard from Fremont High School, was the 2016 Nebraska High School Player of the Year. She averaged 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game for the Tigers.
• She is averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 assists in 14.4 minutes per game this season.
• Cascio Jensen had season highs with six points and two three-pointers in wins over both Omaha (Nov. 22) and San Jose State (Dec. 9).
Grace Mitchell, 6-2, Forward/Guard, Wellington, Kan.
• Mitchell, a 6-2 forward/guard, was the Kansas Player of the Year as selected by USA Today High School Sports. She averaged 21.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks as a senior at Wellington High School. She also hit 48 percent of her three-pointers while setting a single-season school record with 533 points on her way to Kansas Class 4A Player-of-the-Year honors. She was ranked as the No. 51 wing in the nation by ESPN.
• Mitchell has averaged 1.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per game this season. She produced a career-high seven-point effort against Drake on Dec. 6. Mitchell scored five points and had the first two steals of her career during a 15-5 Husker surge in the second quarter that helped send the Big Red to halftime with a 33-32 lead over the Bulldogs.
• She played well off the bench with five points on 2-of-2 shooting, including a three-pointer, while adding three rebounds against No. 1 UConn on Dec. 21.
• Mitchell hit the first three-pointer of her career in the second quarter against Drake.
• She scored two points and grabbed two rebounds off the bench in her Husker debut against UTRGV, and added an important putback in Nebraska’s 62-59 win over Colorado State on Nov. 17.
Blackburn to Redshirt after Surgeries
• Sophomore Rachel Blackburn will redshirt during the 2016-17 season after undergoing season-ending surgery on her knees on Oct. 4, 2016.
• The 6-3 forward from Leavenworth, Kan., averaged 6.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in nearly 24 minutes per contest in Nebraska’s first nine games as a true freshman in 2015-16. She was limited greatly in both practice and games in NU’s final 23 contests last season, missing seven games entirely, while averaging just 13 minutes per contest in 16 games the rest of the way. She averaged just 2.4 points and 4.0 boards in those games, while being limited by chronic knee pain.
• Blackburn underwent knee surgery soon after the 2015-16 season and was hoping to contribute in 2016-17. However, she continued to be limited during the summer and elected to try another procedure to alleviate knee pain this fall.
Huskers Sign Taylor Kissinger for 2017-18
• The top-ranked high school recruit in the state of Nebraska, Taylor Kissinger signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Nebraska women’s basketball team for the 2017-18 season on the first day of the fall signing period on Nov. 9.
• Kissinger, a 6-1 forward/guard from Minden, was ranked as the No. 26 player in the nation by Prospects Nation and continued to climb in the national player rankings after a strong summer of 2016. She is ranked as the No. 40 player in the nation by ESPN and No. 58 by Blue Star Basketball. Kissinger is the only prep player from the state of Nebraska ranked among the nation’s top 100 recruits in the 2017 signing class.
• Kissinger earned a spot on the 2017 Naismith Trophy High School Girls Preseason Player-of-the-Year Watch List, announced on Nov. 16.
• She was also one of five Nebraska players on the 2016 USA Today High School Sports All-Nebraska team in 2015-16, joining future Husker teammate and 2016 Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year Rylie Cascio Jensen.
• Kissinger, who missed nearly half of her junior season at Minden High School with a broken wrist in 2015-16, averaged 28.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game for the Whippets following her return to the court. She earned second-team Super-State honors as a junior and is a two-time first-team Class C-1 all-stater (2015, 2016).
• In 2015, Kissinger became the first sophomore in history to be named the Kearney Hub Territory Player of the Year after averaging 25.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while hitting 62 three-pointers. She was also a third-team All-Nebraska selection as a sophomore in 2015.
• Kissinger claimed second-team Class C-1 all-state honors as a freshman in 2014 after averaging 16.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. She also tied a Nebraska state tournament record by knocking down seven three-pointers in an opening-round win over Lincoln Lutheran.
• Kissinger’s older twin sisters are both Division I guards, with Brooke entering her first season at Creighton after spending her first two seasons at Illinois, and Jamie entering her third season at San Diego.
• Taylor Kissinger, who played her club basketball last season for the All-Iowa Attack after previously playing for the Cornhusker Shooting Stars, also was invited to compete in the USA Basketball U16 National Team Trials in Colorado Springs. She chose Nebraska over Oklahoma State and Creighton. She also received offers from Arizona State, Louisville, Iowa, Iowa State and Illinois among others.
Pair of Transfers Preparing for 2017-18
• Nebraska added a pair of NCAA Division I transfers following the hiring of Coach Amy Williams in April of 2016. Senior Janay Morton (Eastern Michigan) and sophomore Bria Stallworth (UMass) both elected to leave their former schools after coaching changes at their schools.
• Morton, a 5-10 guard from Brooklyn Park, Minn., was a third-team All-Mid-American Conference selection in 2015-16. She was also a member of the 2016 MAC All-Defensive Team, and she was chosen to the MAC All-Freshman Team in 2014.
• In Morton’s three seasons at EMU, she amassed 1,341 points, 364 rebounds, 249 assists and 223 steals over 103 games with 94 starts. She averaged 13.5 points per game as a junior in 2015-16, while knocking down 76 three-pointers. She also led the MAC with 96 steals.
• Stallworth, a 5-6 guard from Chicago, Ill., earned a spot on the Atlantic 10 Conference All-Rookie Team after leading all A-10 freshmen in scoring (13.1 ppg) and assists (3.8 apg). She also hit 35.1 percent of her three-pointers.
• Stallworth was ranked as the No. 33 point guard in the nation ESPN as a senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Illinois.
Nebraska’s History of Home Success
• Nebraska opened 2016-17 with a 71-53 win over UTRGV for its 11th consecutive season-opening win at home. The Huskers went 15-4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2015-16 after going 12-3 (13-3 at home) in 2014-15. The Huskers are 47-14 (.770) all-time at Pinnacle Bank Arena since the building opened for the 2013-14 campaign. The Big Red went 16-2 at home in 2013-14, suffering their only Big Ten loss to Purdue, 77-75, on Jan. 19, 2014. Nebraska’s 16 home wins in 2013-14 tied the school record for single-season home victories.
• The Huskers played the first regular-season basketball game in the history of the arena against USA Today No. 25 UCLA (Nov. 8, 2013) and rolled to a 77-49 win over the Bruins. NU’s first win over an AP Top 25 team came with a 76-56 win over No. 24 Michigan State on Feb. 8, 2014. The Huskers added their first-ever win over an AP Top 10 team at the arena with a 94-74 victory over No. 8 Penn State on Feb. 24, 2014
• NU won its first-ever Big Ten home game with a 66-65 thriller over Northwestern Jan. 2, 2014, before an 88-85 win over Minnesota on Jan. 16, 2014, marked the first overtime game in Pinnacle Bank Arena history.
• NU suffered its first loss at the arena to Washington State (76-72) on Nov. 30, 2013.
• The Huskers are 436-144 (.752) all-time at home. The Huskers have gone 172-48 (.782) over the last 14 seasons, posting double-figure home victory totals in each of the last 13 years.
• Nebraska played in the Devaney Center from 1976-77 through 2012-13, and added one appearance at Devaney against Utah on Nov. 23, 2014. The Huskers own a 389-130 record at the Devaney Center, including 146-88 (.624) mark in conference play.