Photo Credit: John Peterson

Huskers Reset, Take Down Samford 71-46 After 15-Point First Half

December 10, 2022

After Nebraska women’s basketball finished its first half against Samford with just 15 points, head coach Amy Williams had the members of her team remove their shoes in the locker room.

The Huskers and Bulldogs walked off the floor at the break having combined for the lowest scoring half in Nebraska program history, with a 16-15 Samford lead equaling 31 total points. Nebraska, coming off a pair of conference wins, had made just 6-for-29 shots and turned it over 10 times at home against a 4-7 opponent.

With the scoreboard not far from where it was prior to tipoff, the head coach decided the team might as well begin from scratch.

“Everybody took their shoes off and started over,” Williams said postgame. “I made them take their shoes off and re-put them back on and just kind of restart. I think we talked about a few things that we needed to do better adjustment-wise and focused on the process of that, and then just the mentality of coming out and being a better version of us.”

The reset with newly-tied laces paid off, as the Huskers scored 56 points in the second half to take down Samford 71-46.

Improvement showed quickly in the third quarter. Less than halfway through the period, Nebraska had nearly matched its first-half total by opening on a 14-2 run.

Allison Weidner, held scoreless in the opening half while grabbing nine rebounds, was a major part of that spark. She started the half by nailing a short pull-up jumper to take the lead before Samford responded. After Maddie Krull hit a three, Weidner came up steals on two straight defensive possessions. The first came in the backcourt after a Husker three and eventually led to another long-range make. The second resulted in the guard being sent to the free throw line, where she made one of two free throws before she was sent back to the stripe on the next possession and hit both.

The run was capped off by an Alexis Markowski 3-pointer from the top of the key, trailing the play after grabbing a defensive rebound.

That shot gave her a double-double as well, a mark Weidner also reached in the contest. Markowski finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks, while Weidner had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.

The two were the lead contributors in a quarter where Nebraska outscored Samford 29-17.

“We always say that our offense starts from our defense,” Weidner said. “I felt that we weren’t really pressuring the ball and it kind of seemed Samford could get whatever they want. They were just kind of picking us apart. So I just decided to pick up the pressure just to annoy the point guard a little bit, because no one likes that. And it worked out in our favor and it really sparked the team.”

Samford continued to fight back, cutting the Husker lead to single digits on a few instances late in the third quarter. Twice, Kendall Moriarty hit a three to bring the advantage back to double-digits, and opened the final period with a make from deep as well. Moriarty finished with a career-high 11 points off the bench.

The difference remained above 10 points in the final 10 minutes, and Jaz Shelley finally got into a rhythm to help Nebraska pull away. Through three quarters, she had just five points on 2-for-9 shooting, but scored 10 points in the fourth. The last of those baskets put the Huskers up 23 with just over two minutes remaining.

As a team, Nebraska turned it over just once in the second half. It also ended up securing a third straight game with at least 10 made threes, after hitting just one shot from deep in the first half.

“It didn’t look like we were gonna get there in the first half. For sure,” Williams said. “But I think, kind of back to what Jaz Shelley mentioned at halftime is that we were a little stagnant. We weren’t making hard cuts in our zone offense. And so then we didn’t collapse it, we were taking a little bit more rushed shots, pressured shots, contested shots, where the second half I thought we made harder cuts, we knew where we wanted to go with it. We got some inside-outside touches, and that led to more open looks for our team.”

Nebraska played with just eight players once again, as starters Trinity Brady and Isabelle Bourne remained out with injuries. Sam Haiby went through pregame warmups for the first time since her season debut against Tarleton and appeared to be in uniform, but did not end up playing.

Maggie Mendelson also joined the team on the bench, but not in uniform just two days after being with the volleyball team for their NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon. Williams said the team will be giving her time to rest, but that she’ll be getting acclimated over the next week.

With finals week at Nebraska next week the Huskers’ next game isn’t until Dec. 18, when they take on Wyoming. It’s unclear for now who all will be available for that contest, but Williams is happy with how her team has adjusted in these last three wins while being down at least one starter each time.

“I’ve seen them overcome quite a bit of adversity and everything that we’ve asked them to do,” Williams said. “To watch them just be willing to rise up and try to fill in and pick up for those injured players, it’s been pretty special.”

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