For the first time since 2013, the Nebraska women’s basketball program has a 10-game winning streak.
The Huskers defended their home court inside Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon with a 78-50 win over the Indiana State Sycamores, and it was never really a close ball game. Big Red head coach Amy Williams and her crew held an 18-11 lead after the first quarter, then outscored Indiana State 21-6 in the second to take a 39-17 edge at the half.
The Sycamores, without one of their top players, Adrian Folks, who is out for the season with a knee injury, shot just 30% from the field overall while turning the ball over 24 times and were called for six travel violations. It wasn’t much better on Nebraska’s side in terms of a clean game. The Huskers came into the contest averaging 13.7 turnovers per game. At halftime on Saturday, they had 11. By the end of the game, that stat had grown to 24.
“I don’t think that anybody in our locker room would have felt like that was our most complete ball game of the season,” Williams said. “Credit to Indiana State for that. I thought they’ve done a good job all season of making people play uncharacteristic and mucking things up a little bit. They forced a lot of turnovers coming into the ball game. It was a real key for the game, and we obviously had 24 turnovers, so we did not take care of business in that area.
“I think they highlighted some weaknesses that we have a few days to work on here during finals week, and we’re looking forward to that opportunity.”
Guards Jaz Shelley, Sam Haiby and forward Alexis Markowski all scored in double figures for Nebraska. Shelley and Markwoski each netted 17 points, with Shelly adding a team-best four assists. The 17 points was Markowski’s career-high, and she made her outing even more special as her game-high 10 rebounds gave her a first career double-double.
A true freshman from Lincoln Pius X High School, Markowski is still learning how to play at the college level. But each game she’s feeling more confident. The 6-foot-2 forward was one of the players off the bench to give Nebraska juice on Saturday. She scored eight of the Huskers’ final 10 points of the first half, which included a top-of-the-arc 3-pointer. Markowski had 11 points, three rebounds and a block in 11 first-half minutes.
“Honestly, it’s just a confidence standpoint for me. I feel like it just keeps growing with every game I play in a Husker jersey,” said Markowski, who went 5-of-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
Haiby chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, and went a perfect 8-of-8 at the free-throw line. As a team, Nebraska shot 69% (18-of-26) from the line.
The Huskers’ offense came into the game shooting 40% from the 3-point line, but against Indiana State the Huskers made just 25% (6-of-24) of their triples. Shelley, a 55% 3-point shooter entering Saturday, hit on just one of her four attempts from 3. Ashley Scoggin and Ruby Porter both went 1-of-3. Annika Stewart was 1-of-4.
It wasn’t a smooth-flowing game. Indiana State was called for 24 fouls and Nebraska 17. The Huskers outrebounded the Sycamores 42-36, but the visitors grabbed 18 offensive boards, four more than Nebraska.
“We definitely have a lot to work on still, and that’s actually exciting because we have so many areas where we can still grow in,” Shelley said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds, too many turnovers. There was a lot of stuff that went wrong for us today, but it shows we still fight. We came out with a big win, but there’s definitely a lot to go home and work on.”
Nebraska did take advantage of Indiana State’s inability to hold on to the ball and hurt the Sycamores with its transition offense. The Huskers scored 24 points off the Indiana State turnovers and then got in a groove running-and-gunning, holding a 22-0 edge in fast-break points.
Why are the Huskers comfortable playing on the run? It starts with a couple of explosive guards in Shelley and Haiby, who are looking for teammates as they storm up the court.
“Our team is really confident in transition, and we’re at our best when we’re able to play with pace and get some good looks early in the shot clock,” Williams said. “So I think, when we are able to force turnovers, that’s kind of the mindset that we have, is to turn those into points. But we most definitely need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, so we can get shots at the rim so we can set our defense a little bit better.”
Up next for the Huskers is a home game against Drake on Sunday, Dec. 19, at noon.