Trailing 9-3 to Purdue early in the first quarter Sunday afternoon at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Huskers needed a spark. It didn’t take long for head coach Amy Williams to find one, though, as true freshman Allison Weidner provided it.
The Humphrey St. Francis grad came off the bench to score seven straight points, turning a 9-all tie into a 16-9 lead for the home team. Weidner’s old-fashioned 3-point play gave Nebraska energy and its first lead of the game, 12-9. The Huskers went on to end the opening quarter with a 16-2 run and led 19-11 heading into the second.
Thanks to Weidner’s boost, the Huskers never trailed again and turned a close, competitive game into a Big Ten blowout with an 81-66 win to improve to 15-4 and 4-4 in conference play. The victory was the 100th inside PBA for the women’s program. The Boilermakers dropped to 13-8, 4-6.
The in-state freshmen were the stars of the game for Big Red. Weidner set a new career-high with 14 points, all of which came in the first half. She didn’t miss at the free-throw line, either, going 3-of-3. With Purdue trying to defend the 3-point line, that presented an opportunity for the physical 5-foot-10 Weidner to get inside and attack the rim.
“Allison is very aggressive downhill,” Williams said. “She really pushes things and puts a lot of pressure on the rim. She did a great job of that first half, got herself to the free-throw line, got herself to the basket. I thought her ability to really want to put pressure and get downhill just matched up well with their defensive game plan coming in.”
The previous career-high for Weidner was 11 points back on Nov. 11 against Prairie View. Sunday’s game was also her third double-digit scoring game of her career—she poured in 10 against Drake on Dec. 10.
“I guess I was attacking the basket and being aggressive,” Weidner said after the game Sunday. “Once I saw a couple go in right away, I just decided to keep doing it. It worked out in my favor.”
After a 1-of-6 start from the field and only three points in the first half for Alexis Markowski, the 6-foot-3 Lincoln Pius X product went 7-of-8 and scored 20 in the second half. She finished with a team-high 23 points and seven rebounds while going 3-of-3 from 3-point range.
“At halftime, it was something we talked about, just finishing in the paint,” Markowski said. “We had a height advantage, and us posts weren’t finishing very well, especially me. I kind of adjusted, and they told me I needed to finish and I knew I needed to. So I just went out there and finished some easy bunnies.”
It was Markowski’s third 20-point outing in the last six, and she stayed hot from behind the arc, too, going a perfect 3-of-3. In the last four games, Markowski is 11-of-14 from 3.
Nebraska was 14-of-28 on layups against the Boilermakers. If more of those easy shots in the paint had gone down, the score would have been even more lopsided.
“She did struggle to finish in the first half, but the first play of the second half we came right to her. We called a play to go right inside and go at her,” Williams said of Markowski. “So I hope she sees the belief our coaching staff has. We know she’s the type of player who’s competitive, and if she’s down, she’s not going to be down for very long. She’s just a tough competitor that rises to the level almost all the time.
“I thought Allison really carried us offensively in the first half, and I thought Lex really kind of established herself as a presence in the second half.”
The victory was the Huskers’ second of a four-game homestand. The next two games in the friendly confines of PBA are against opponents with a combined 3-15 record in Big Ten play: Rutgers (0-9) on Tuesday and Penn State (3-6) on Thursday.
Nebraska outshot Purdue from behind the arc. The Huskers made 50% from 3-point land, going 11-of-20, while the Boilermakers were 10-of-31 for 32%. Inside the arc, Nebraska held a 34-24 advantage in the paint scoring. Isabelle Bourne scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. It was a nice bounce-back game for Bourne, a former second-team All-Big Ten selection who scored just six points in the win against Wisconsin last week.
Nebraska took a 35-23 lead at halftime and saw its edge balloon to 64-42 early in the fourth off a post score from Markowski. Purdue made things interesting in the second half by going 5-of-10 from 3 in the third, but the Boilermakers were held to just two 3s in the fourth.
Purdue was forced to play much of the game without its leading scorer coming into the season, Madison Layden, who left the game early in the second quarter after a hard fall.
Nebraska’s games against Rutgers and Penn State are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip.