Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

After Busy Stretch, Nebraska Women Look To Rest Up Before Big Road Game At No. 17 Maryland

February 05, 2022

The four-game home stretch is over. Now, a big road trip to No. 17 Maryland awaits the Husker women’s basketball team.

After not playing for 10 days due to the program being in health and safety protocols, Nebraska returned to the court against Wisconsin on Jan. 27 and ended a three-game losing skid. Wins over Purdue, Rutgers and Penn State followed. That’s a lot of basketball in a short amount of time.

Is there a bit of fatigue after playing four games in an eight-day stretch? That question was posed to the three players—Isabelle Bourne, Allison Weidner and Alexis Markowski—in the postgame press conference after the Penn State win. All three looked at each other, smiled and let out some laughs before Bourne, one of the veterans and a third-year player on the team, took command.

“There’s a lot of tiredness,” the Australian said with a smile.

Head coach Amy Williams said the players had Friday off so they could rest their bodies. Weidner, a true freshman from Humphrey, had one of her best games as a Husker in the win over the Nittany Lions. The guard scored 10 of her career-high-tying 14 points in the fourth quarter while also recording a couple steals, one of which she turned into a fast-break layup that helped her team seal the victory.

With Maryland on their minds, Weidner said the message in the locker room was clear after the game Thursday night: rest up, because the Terrapins are waiting.

“Obviously we’re really happy with this win, because any win in the Big Ten is really big for us,” she said. “We just really need to recover right now because we have a pretty big game on Sunday. So just taking care of our bodies in recovery and being ready to go.”

One aspect of the game to watch on Sunday will be the Maryland offense against the Nebraska defense. The Terps are scoring 80.1 points per game, which ranks seventh in the nation. The Husker defense is allowing 60.2, or 111th. But in the past two games, Nebraska has shown it can hunker down defensively. Rutgers was held scoreless for a seven-minute stretch. Penn State didn’t make a field goal in the last seven minutes, 16 seconds.

But no one will mistake two down programs like Rutgers and Penn State—which, combined, have a conference record of 3-19—for a powerhouse like Maryland. The Terps are a different monster, so Nebraska wants to make sure the suffocating defense starts well before the fourth quarter on Sunday.

“I think we’re pretty good at locking down when we need to and focusing in. I think we need to do a better job of doing that for 40 minutes from the beginning, as we can see,” Bourne said. “But it’s a good thing that we can tell ourselves and show ourselves that we can do it. Hopefully we can start getting a full game of that. But just being able to lock down and know that we can beat really anyone is really good for us.”

Head coach Brenda Frese’s Maryland team is a Big Ten bully, and has been since even before joining the conference when it was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terps have gone to 10 straight NCAA tournaments and made the Sweet Sixteen last season. They’ll enter Sunday’s noon (central) game as one of the top teams in the Big Ten at 16-6 overall and 8-3 in conference play. Frese, by the way, is in her 20th season at Maryland and owns a stellar record of 528-137.

As Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said following the Huskers’ win over Penn State on Thursday, if you take one look at Maryland’s roster and you’ll see a lot of familiar names from last year’s team that was so good. Williams wasn’t mistaken. Maryland returns its top eight scorers from last season’s team that finished 26-3, 17-1, including Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller.

“It’s something that, in your prep, the personnel for our returning players is familiar,” Williams said. “And some of the things they do defensively, switching all screens one through five, is not something we see from other teams, but is most definitely something we’ve seen from them in the past.”

Owuso is averaging 14.3 points per game while Miller is scoring at an 11.8 clip. But the Huskers will also be very aware of sophomore Reese Angel, a 6-foot-3 forward who’s averaging a double-double with a team-best 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds. Angel, who’s from Baltimore, has 12 double-doubles on the season.

Angel is shooting 50% from the field. But if the Huskers put her on the free-throw line, she might miss. The forward is just a 65% shooter at the charity stripe, making 95-of-145 this season.

Maryland, which will enter the game winners of its last four, has dominated the all-time series with Nebraska, winning all 14 games. The Huskers met the Terps twice last season—the first game in Lincoln was a blowout loss for Nebraska, 95-73, while the second was much closer, with Maryland picking up a 83-73 win.

A live video stream of the game will be available to B1G+ subscribers.

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