Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska and Its Top-Five Nationally-Ranked Offense Head To Minnesota For Big Ten Affair

December 04, 2021

Five days after blowing out Wake Forest 86-60 on the road in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the undefeated Nebraska women’s basketball team (8-0) will be in Minneapolis for its first game against a conference opponent.

Nebraska takes on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who are 6-4 and coming off an 82-74 loss to North Carolina in its game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, for a Monday night contest slated for a 7 p.m. tip. It can be watched on the Fox Sports App.

Following the game at Minnesota, Nebraska will finish the non-conference portion of its schedule with a three-game homestand against Indiana State (3-4) on Saturday, Dec. 11, Drake (5-2) on Sunday, Dec. 19 and Wyoming (3-3) on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

The Huskers hold the advantage over the Gophers in several key statistics coming into the game. Nebraska’s offense has done well this season and ranks fourth nationally at 86.6 points per game while Minnesota’s comes in tied for 137th at 68.

Jaz Shelley and Isabelle Bourne are both averaging double figures for head coach Amy Williams’ Huskers.

Shelley, a transfer from Oregon, has lit opponents up on the scoreboard to start the season. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging a team-high 15 points per game while shooting a sizzling 60% (27-of-45) from 3-point range. The Moe, Australia, native has a 30- and 22-point game already. Shelley doesn’t just score offensively, either—she’s leading the team in assists with 4.8 per game.

Bourne, another Australian, started well offensively, averaging 17.6 points on 71% (23-of-32) shooting in the first three games of the season. Since then, though, the scoring production has been harder to come by for the 6-2 forward. In the past five games, Bourne is averaging 7.2 points on 39% (16-of-41) shooting.

The Huskers are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country, too, as they’re making 42.4% of their shots behind the arc. The Gophers are shooting 34.9% from 3, or 65th in the country.

Of players who have attempted 10 or more 3s this season, Nebraska has five shooting 40% or better. Kendall Coley—a dynamic player, both offensively and defensively—is matching Shelley’s 60% and has gone 6-of-10 from deep this season. Ashley Scoggin will come into the game as a 48% (18-of-37) 3-point shooter while Annika Stewart will be at 42% (6-of-14) and MiCole Cayton 40% (4-of-10).

Cayton, a grad transfer from California who has battled injuries, is coming off a great performance off the bench for the Huskers in the win over Wake Forest. She scored all 12 of her points in the second quarter against the Demon Deacons and helped Nebraska turn a 19-15 first-quarter lead into 43-30 edge at halftime.

Nebraska’s offense has been one of the more efficient ones this season. The Huskers are shooting 49.1% from the field this season, which tops Minnesota’s 39.3%. Nebraska’s most efficient player so far this season is its best rebounder and one of the best defenders in Bella Cravens. The 6-3 Cravens is averaging 8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting a team-best 61% (25-of-41) from the field.

Minnesota has four players averaging double figures in scoring, including Sara Scalia (12.4), Jasmine Powell (12.3), Deja Winters (11.2) and Kadi Sissoko (11.1). No other Gophers are averaging 7 points, so those four players are the ones to keep an eye on. Winters, a 5-11 guard, is shooting 41% (23-of-55) from 3 this season while Scalia is right behind her at 36% (22-of-61).

Nebraska’s defense has been good—it’s only allowing 52.4 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the country.

Despite her 5-9 height, Shelley is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 7.3 boards per game, and also has the most steals (11) and blocks (12). Cravens came up big defensively over the Thanksgiving holiday tournament in San Diego. In a win over Drexel, she had five points and a whopping 14 rebounds. Then the next day against host San Diego, another win, Cravens hauled down 15 boards to go along with seven points.

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