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Husker Women Show No Signs of Rust in Blowout Win over Wisconsin

January 27, 2022

After a 10-day pause due to health and safety protocols within their program, the Nebraska women were back on a basketball court Thursday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Huskers were looking to not only shake the rust off, but also end a three-game losing streak while, perhaps, blowing off steam along the way after consecutive losses to some of the best competition in the Big Ten Conference in No. 6 Indiana and twice to No. 23 Iowa. As for the Wisconsin Badgers, they were the ones taking the punishment.

Behind a team-high 15 points from Alexis Markowski, another 11 from Sam Haiby and a nine-assist, nine-rebound, five-point outing from do-everything guard Jaz Shelley, the Huskers picked up a 77-44 win over the Badgers to improve to 14-4 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play. Up next for Nebraska is a home game against Purdue (13-7, 4-5) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

“We are clearly so excited to be back playing ball games again,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said. “I think our kids really missed being out there playing together, missed playing in front of our fan base.”

Thursday night was “Australia Night” at PBA, a way of showing appreciation for the three Aussies on Nebraska’s roster, including Shelley, Isabelle Bourne and Ruby Porter. The Australian national anthem was played before team introductions, which was a special moment for Shelley.

“I haven’t heard the anthem in a little while now, so it was kind of nice, a little awkward, but it was really cool,” Shelley said.

While Shelley, the Huskers’ leading scorer coming into the game at 13.8, didn’t score until the third quarter and finished in single digits, it was her playmaking that got the Nebraska offense going. She was able to find teammate Ashley Scoggin multiple times behind the arc, and Scoggin, who came into the game a 44% 3-point shooter, took advantage as she scored nine points and went 3-of-6 from 3-point land.

The Huskers shot 48% (33-of-69) from the field and were able to hold Wisconsin to 32% (18-of-56). They outscored Wisconsin 12-0 in fast-break points and didn’t look like a team that was playing its first game in over a week.

“We did have some areas where there was maybe a little rust, but I thought the transition was not really one of them,” Williams said. “I thought Jaz really helped us play with pace and push tempo and made great decisions with her passes, and because of that we were really able to have a positive assist-to-turnover (20-9) ratio.”

A 14-0 run early in the opening quarter helped turn a 4-3 deficit into a 17-4 lead for the Huskers. The Badgers, who dropped to 5-14 and 2-7 in conference play, were never able to recover from that stretch. That Husker run included five points from both Markowski and Haiby, who made her return to the starting lineup for the first time since the Indiana game on Jan. 13 where she suffered a right shoulder injury that kept her from playing in the second game against Iowa. Haiby also ended her game with four assists and three boards.

Nebraska wound up leading 19-10 after the first quarter and 37-21 at halftime. The Huskers held the Badgers to 14 points below their season scoring average of 58 and scored 25 points off 18 Wisconsin turnovers.

The 6-foot-3 Markowski had her way in the paint against a smallish Wisconsin starting lineup that’s tallest player was the 6-1 Halle Douglass. Markowski, the owner of three Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and one National Freshman of the Week, shot 6-of-12 from the field and went 1-of-2 from the 3-point line, which stretches her streak of making at least one 3 in a game to three.

“We knew they were smaller, they kind of play all guards,” Markowski said. “We knew we’d probably have that advantage. They were going to play a little bit of zone so we knew we could crash the boards hard and really get it inside, which, I felt like the guards did a really good job of finding us in one-on-one.”

Bella Cravens, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the Michigan State game on Dec. 30, looked closer to 100% healthy after missing three games with an injury. She scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds.

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