Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Women Look To Stay Undefeated Against Defensive-Minded Wyoming

December 21, 2021

Before the Nebraska women’s basketball team sets its focus on the Big Ten portion of its schedule, the Huskers have to take care of business against the Wyoming Cowgirls.

Wyoming, the defending Mountain West Conference champion, comes to Lincoln with a 4-4 overall record while the Huskers are undefeated at 11-0 following an 89-68 win over Drake on Sunday. If Nebraska can get past the Cowgirls, it will enter conference play as the only Big Ten team without a blemish on its overall record.

With leading scorer Jaz Shelley having an off night with only seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, head coach Amy Williams’ team got contributions from several different players in the win over Drake. That was important because it showed her that the Huskers can adjust on the fly when needed. The team is still growing and learning about itself, which is a good thing.

“We don’t want to be necessarily a finished product right now in December, but what I really like is, the things that we really tried to focus on and lock-in on over finals week in practice, we saw those things pay off and our kids kind of followed through,” Williams said after the game. “So we’ll keep finding areas to improve and keep getting better and we’re going to try to improve before Wednesday when we play Wyoming.”

Wyoming’s offense is averaging 62 points per game, 231st in the country. McKinley Bradshaw is the Cowgirls’ top scorer at 13.8 points per game. In a loss to Wichita State, Bradshaw scored 22 of her team’s 48 points. No other player is averaging more than 10 points for head coach Gerald Mattinson’s team as both Quinn Weidemann and Allyson Fertig are pouring in 9.9 and 9.1 points each contest. Weidemann is a Nebraska native and Omaha Westside grad.

As a team Wyoming is shooting 29.2% from 3-point range, which ranks 223rd in the country. Weidemann is the top sharpshooter for Wyoming as she’s making 46% (14-of-30) of her 3s this season. That’s a stark contrast to the Huskers, who will enter the game seventh in the nation in 3-point shooting at 39% on 22.6 attempts per game. Two Huskers rank in the top 35 in the nation in 3-point percentage as Shelley is 10th, shooting 52.5%, while Ashley Scoggin isn’t far behind at 32nd, shooting 45.3%.

When Williams was the head coach at South Dakota, she was able to host Weidemann on a recruiting visit to Vermillion. So Williams knows what kind of an athlete the Huskers will be playing against on Wednesday.

“She was a really good athlete to start with, and then she’s worked incredibly hard to be a good basketball player,” Williams said of Weidemann. “She’s a dangerous threat, one of their best 3-point and perimeter shooters. But she just knows how to play the game, has a lot of experience, has played a lot of minutes, is very solid on both ends of the floor. I’m sure she’ll be so excited to be back in her home state, and we expect her to try to have a big game.”

The Cowgirls are a dangerous opponent, Williams said, because they execute what they do wellโ€”making the other team uncomfortable.

“They run a lot of actions that put you in positions where, all of the sudden you’ll look and they’re posting up their guards and their 5s are running off staggered screens,” Williams said. “They have players who can play out on the perimeter all over and they do a great job of putting them in positions and putting your defenders in positions where, our 5s are not used to chasing kids off staggered screens. They just do a really good job of playing to some areas that maybe teams and defenses aren’t comfortable with.”

Nebraska will need to be aware of Wyoming guard Tommi Olson, who ranks first in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.33. The 5-6 guard is averaging just 2.5 points per game, but she’s dished out a team-high 26 assists and is taking care of the ball with only six turnovers. As a team, Wyoming doesn’t turn the ball over much. It ranks 14th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game with 12.1. Nebraska is committing an average of 14.7.

Olson is part of a stingy Cowgirl defense that ranks 34th in country, holding opponents to just 54.2 points per game. The Huskers will put that to the test, however, as they are scoring 84.5 points per gameโ€”which ranks sixth in the countryโ€”and have surpassed 80 points in six games this season.

“They’re a really solid kind of pack defense,” Williams said. “They do a great job of really getting you to take the shots that they want you to take, and they’re just very methodical with everything they do and very disciplined. We have a lot of respect for that.”

The Huskers’ bench is also performing well. True freshmen Alexis Markowski and Allison Weidner are averaging 9 and 5.5 points per game, respectively. Markowski, who’s hauling down 6.5 boards per contest, is coming off her second Co-Freshman of the Week honor this season after recording back-to-back double-doubles against Indiana State and Drake.

Tip for the Huskers’ game against Wyoming on Wednesday is scheduled for noon. Nebraska will travel to Michigan State (7-5) on Thursday, Dec. 30.

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