After just over a week without any games, the Nebraska women’s basketball team will be back in action again on Sunday.
The Huskers, winners of three straight games, will look to continue their positive momentum against Wyoming. Nebraska beat No. 20 Maryland 90-67 on the road on Dec. 4 before returning home to record two more double-digit wins over Wisconsin and Samford.
The Cowgirls have also played well recently, winning their last four games after a 2-3 start to the year. Perhaps their most impressive outing was a loss, coming up just two points short against Gonzaga, a currently ranked team which beat the Huskers in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Last season, Wyoming lost to Nebraska 72-61 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska led by 18 entering the final quarter, but the Cowgirls made a late push and even cut their deficit to single digits.
They went on to make the round of 16 in the WNIT, but lost in triple overtime to UCLA.
Wyoming’s head coach from last year retired and the team’s leading scorer chose not to return for a final season. However, current head coach Heather Ezell was the associate head coach on last season’s staff and according to Nebraska head coach Amy Williams, the team doesn’t look all that different.
“They’re quite similar, to be honest with you,” Williams said on her radio show Wednesday. “It’s been a team that’s been in the NCAA Tournament, had a lot of success… They’re just so well-coached, very disciplined, they don’t make a lot of mistakes, they just don’t turn the ball over, they make great reads, they’re a very disciplined team, so a tough challenge.”
Only two teams in the country have turned it over less per game than Wyoming this season. It also owns a top-10 scoring defense, allowing just 51.4 points per game. This is the third top-10 scoring defense Nebraska has faced so far this season, the other two being Mississippi State and Virginia Tech.
The Cowgirls are led by four players averaging over nine points per game, the top offensive option being Nebraska native guard Quinn Weideman. The Omaha Westside High School graduate is averaging 13 points in her fifth-year with the program.
Sophomore center Allyson Fertig averages 9.9 points and 9.2 rebounds for the team, along with a steal and 1.5 blocks per game. She scored 16 points against the Huskers in last year’s matchup. Beyond those two, forward Grace Ellis and guard Malene Pedersen both shoot over 50% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers.
On the Nebraska side of things, the biggest thing to watch for may be who all is available. The Huskers played with eight players the last two games, as multiple players have dealt with injuries this season. Trinity Brady, Sam Haiby and Isabelle Bourne all currently day-to-day.
Haiby warmed up with the team pregame against Samford for the first time since her season debut against Tarleton, but did not play. Trinity Brady hasn’t been on the bench since her injury against Virginia Tech, and Isabelle Bourne still had her arm in a sling when the Huskers played the Bulldogs.
The timeline for each injured player is unclear, but Nebraska will possibly add a player to the lineup this weekend that has been unavailable for other reasons.
Maggie Mendelson, a freshman two-sport athlete, finished out the Husker volleyball season last week and started practice with the basketball team this week. Williams said there’s a “really good chance” she sees action against Wyoming.
The 6-foot-5 forward could add depth to a currently thin frontcourt. With Bourne out, Annika Stewart moved into the starting lineup, leaving guard/forward Kendall Coley as the only listed frontcourt option off the bench.
“(Mendelson) looks great and we’re super happy to have her out there,” Williams said. “She is such a quick learner, picking things up so quickly and we feel excited that we’re going to be able to hopefully see her soon in game action.”
This matchup is Nebraska’s second-to-last nonconference game of the season. After Sunday’s matchup, it will play undefeated No. 22 Kansas on Wednesday.
The Huskers will look to pick up two more wins before moving fully into Big Ten play. That starts with this next game against Wyoming, which will begin at 2 p.m. and be televised on Nebraska Public Media and B1G+.