Defense fuels Husker opening-day win
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska jumped to a 16-0 lead on its way to a 90-42 season-opening win over Northwestern State on Monday afternoon at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Playing in front of the second-largest opening-day crowd (7,065) in Nebraska women’s basketball history, the Huskers shot to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes and pushed the lead to 46-12 at halftime. The 12 points allowed by Nebraska’s defense tied for the second-lowest total in school history, trailing only a 10-point first half by Illinois in 2018.
Nebraska’s starting five did not allow a point while they were on the floor together in the first, second or third quarters, while also supplying a balanced offense for the Big Red.
Six Huskers finished the game in double figures, led by Jaz Shelley’s game-high 17 points. The graduate guard from Moe, Australia knocked down a trio of three-pointers while adding a game-high six assists to go along with five rebounds and a game-high three steals.
Fellow graduate guard Darian White (Boise, Idaho) produced an outstanding performance in her Husker regular-season debut, contributing 13 points, a game-high nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Posts Alexis Markowski and Annika Stewart each added 13 points of their own while combining for 15 rebounds. Callin Hake added 12 points on 4-for-4 three-point shooting off the bench, while also pitching in four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a strong all-around effort.
True freshman Natalie Potts rounded out the six Huskers in double figures with 10 points and five rebounds while providing outstanding defense in nearly 20 minutes of action in her first career start.
As a team, Nebraska hit 42.6 percent (26-61) of its shots from the field, including 10-of-32 (.313) three-pointers. The Huskers lived at the free throw line, connecting on 28-of-33 free throws (.848). Nebraska won the battle of the boards, 51-33, and posted a 21-14 edge in the turnover department.
The Big Red held Northwestern State to just 21.8 percent (12-55) shooting for the game, including 3-of-27 (.111) in the first half. The Lady Demons finished 5-of-20 (.250) from long range and 13-of-19 (.684) at the free throw line.
Karmelah Dean led NSU with 13 points off the bench, while Sharna Ayres added 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Jiselle Woodson contributed nine points on a trio of three-pointers.
Nebraska returns to action on Friday by traveling to Wyoming. Tip-off against the 2023 Mountain West runner-up Cowgirls is set for 7:30 p.m. (CT) in Laramie.
Nebraska Postgame Notes
The Huskers improved to 47-3 all time in season-opening home games, including 10-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska’s crowd of 7,065 was its second-largest opening-day crowd in school history, trailing only the 9,750 fans in attendance for the opening of Pinnacle Bank Arena against UCLA in 2013.
Monday’s opener followed the Nebraska Life Skills Sportsmanship Pep Rally, which featured more than 3,300 students and accompanying adults from 62 middle grades schools from across the state of Nebraska.
Nebraska’s starting five against Northwestern State included first-time Husker starters Darian White (graduate) and Natalie Potts (true freshman), while Kendall Moriarty (junior) made the second start of her career.
Nebraska opened each of the first three quarters with double-digit runs (16-0, 1st; 12-0, 2nd; 10-0, 3rd).
The Huskers improved to 2-0 all time against Northwestern State.
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