Sophomore forward Issie Bourne is day-to-day as she tries to make her way back from an ankle injury suffered against Michigan State on Jan. 10.
During an appearance on the Husker Sports Nightly radio show Tuesday night, head coach Amy Williams said there was a palpable concern from her team after Nebraska put the finishing touches on a 68-64 win over the 23rd-ranked Spartans last Sunday. Bourne left that game in the final minutes after turning an ankle. She had to be carried off the floor, and Williams said then the Huskers would have to wait to learn her status until they returned to Lincoln.
A week between games certainly helps. Bourne is a key figure in Nebraska’s rotation right now. She’s started every game, and for the last eight has been playing out on the wing. She ranks second on the team in scoring with 14 points a night and third in rebounding with 7.3 a night. Her and guard Sam Haiby have virtually played the same number of minutes this season—33 a night—that lead the team. She’s vital.
Williams said Bourne is working her way back, so consider her status for Saturday’s home meeting with Ohio State up in the air. But, the good news is that it appears she avoided serious injury.
Nebraska might also soon be getting a few other injured Huskers back.
Trinity Brady, a sophomore guard who started NU’s first two games out on the wing (whose spot Bourne filled once she went down), has missed the last eight games with an ankle injury. She was previously in a boot but shed that in recent weeks. Williams didn’t put a timetable on anything, but intimated that she’s close.
“She’s getting closer every day,” Williams said. “We’re hopeful that real shortly she’ll be able to return to the court.”
Brady hasn’t played since Dec. 6. In her 48 minutes to start the year, she scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and got her hands on four steals. She’s a versatile defender Williams can deploy on the wing and lets Bourne play her more natural forward position.
Also looking to work her way back is Cal grad transfer MiCole Cayton. Knee issues at Cal precipitated the transfer, and she has yet to be cleared to play at Nebraska.
“She is getting really close,” Williams said. “I think it’s very likely she could join us and be cleared to be out on the court sometime soon.”
Cayton has been in uniform on the bench for most of Nebraska’s home games but hasn’t yet made an appearance. She participates in pregame warmups, and has ramped up her activity as the season has gone on.
She can give Nebraska a combo guard to add to the rotation, someone who can play minutes at the point or slide off the ball. Williams said either way she’ll give the Huskers another solid defender.
During Nebraska’s recent run of form, it has been the defense that’s been the difference. A three-game skid before Christmas featured losses that saw Nebraska give up 78, 81, and 83 points. In the Huskers’ last four games—three of them wins, twice against ranked foes—they’ve given up an average 60 points a night.
It started with a 65-63 win at the buzzer over 15th-ranked Northwestern on Dec. 31.
“There’s no question that was kind of a catalys,” Williams said. “That game has given confidence to Sam, Issie, Kate (Cain)—our captains—but also the rest of our team.”
Nebraska believes it can win the tight ones with increasing confidence, Williams said. Nebraska is 4-1 this season in games decided by six points or less.
Bourne’s been a key to that. She had a game-high 18 points against Michigan State before exiting. It’ll be a real boost if Nebraska can get her back for Saturday’s game against Ohio State. That one is set to tip at 4 p.m. CT on BTN.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.