Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Huskers Play With Pace, Space in Season-Opening Rout of Maine

November 09, 2021

Whether it was the inside game or the outside 3-point shooting, the Nebraska women’s basketball team had everything rolling in their 108-50 season-opening blowout win over the Maine Black Bears Tuesday afternoon at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Following the game head coach Amy Williams credited assistant coach Chuck Love with his scouting report for Maine. Love wanted to drill home playing with space and pace to the Husker players. After scoring a whopping 108 points, consider that mission accomplished.

“He (Love) said we need paint touches, and they bought into that,” Williams said. “When you get going in transition, it allows us to play a higher-tempo game and get more possessions. It kind of sometimes keeps people on their heels, keeps them from crashing the offensive glass because they’re so concerned about getting back and matching up. So I thought our pace was really good, and coach Love did an outstanding job of getting our kids to buy into the pace that we needed to play today.”

The Huskers—who will host Prairie View A&M this Thursday at 7 p.m. and Alabama A&M on Sunday at 2 p.m.—owned a 60-28 scoring advantage in the paint against the smaller Black Bears and shot 61% from the field and 53% (8-of-15) from 3-point range. Ashley Scoggin and Oregon transfer Jaz Shelley were both 2-for-2 from 3 while Isabelle Bourne was 2-for-4, Annika Stewart 1-for-3 and Sam Haiby 1-for-2.

“We felt like we may have an advantage inside, and that we really wanted to emphasize paint touches—not just post-feed paint touches, but penetration paint touches,” Williams said. “And then if that collapsed their defense and we get inside-outside looks from that, I thought our kids really bought into that. Sixty points in the paint I thought was a highlight for the emphasis there.”

All 12 available players scored for the Huskers and got on the court in the first quarter. Bourne, an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick last season, led everyone with 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting from the field and added five rebounds with three assists. Bourne didn’t miss in the second half, going 4-for-4 overall and 2-for-2 from 3.

Bourne wasn’t that surprised about the 58-point win, not with the shot-makers the Huskers have on the roster.

“With the shooters we have and the versatility we have on our team, it’s been like that in practice,” she said.

Four other Huskers scored in double digits as Bella Cravens poured in 13 while Scoggin and Stewart both had 12. Scoggin led the team with six assists while Shelley had five. Haiby added 10 points.

Cravens, a 6-foot-3 junior, showed nice touch around the hoop and led the team with eight rebounds, three of which were on the offensive glass. Scoggin started the game with a bang as she scored 10 of her 12 points in the first quarter and hit a couple 3s. Haiby, a second-team All-Big Ten selection last year, was scoreless in the first but found a groove in the second, scoring 8 of her 10 points while dishing three assists with no turnovers.

“Sam has that ability to score in bunches,” Williams said. “I thought she waited and found opportune times to really take advantage and get to the basket and make some things happen for our team.”

An 18-2 run that started in the first quarter and ended in the second turned a 13-6 lead into a 31-8 edge for Nebraska. The Huskers led 52-26 at halftime, shooting 54% (20-of-37) from the floor and 45% (5-of-12) from 3 in the opening two quarters. With 4 minutes left in the third, Nebraska held a 42-point lead.

In-state freshman watch

Humphrey St. Francis grad Allison Weidner enjoyed a strong college basketball debut. She scored 9 points with four rebounds, two assists and didn’t turn the ball over. At halftime, the former Class D-2 All-Stater and state champ had 6 points in 7 minutes on 3-of-4 shooting.

“I was a little nervous at first, but I had a lot of fun. Once I got into the flow of things, it just went pretty smoothly,” Weidner said.

Weidner had a couple coast-to-coast layups in the first half, the second of which was via a smooth spin move. Weidner’s attacking style in the open court is something her head coach wants to see more of when the situation presents itself.

“When I see the back of someone’s head, she (Williams) always says, ‘Attack,’ and when we get paint touches, a lot of good things happen,” Weidner said.

Weidner also ended the third quarter in style as she got past her defender and dished off an accurate pass to Annika Stewart for an easy layup. That bucket gave the Huskers an 82-35 lead.

“I thought Allison really sparked us with some energy,” Williams said of the freshman guard. “Sam Haiby has kind of been the one who has had to really create those paint touches off penetration for us in the past. Now, to have players like Jaz Shelley and Allison Weidner who can both come in and also really put pressure on the paint and collapse defenses, I thought Allison did an outstanding job of that when she got into the game today.”

Alexis Markowski, the Lincoln Pius X product and most recent Nebraska Gatorade State High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year, had a slow start to her college debut shooting 0-for-5 in the first half. But the 6-3 forward got better as the game went on and finished with 8 points and seven rebounds, which was second-most on the team.

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