The World-Herald's Sam McKewon compiled everything you need to know for the Nebraska women's basketball team's home game on Wednesday against Duke, as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Wednesday's game will tip off at 6 p.m. It will be broadcast on 105.9 FM (Omaha); 107.3 FM (Lincoln) radio. It will also be televised on the Big Ten Network.
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C – Jade Williams 6-5 Jr. 7.4
F – Leaonna Odom 6-2 Sr. 14.5
F – Onome Akinbode-James 6-3 So. 6.3
G – Miela Goodchild 5-10 So. 11.3
G – Haley Gorecki 6-0 Sr. 18.3
C –Kate Cain 6-5 Jr. 8.9
F – Ashtyn Veerbeek 6-2 So.9.0
G – Sam Haiby 5-9 So. 10.4
G – Nicea Eliely 6-1 Sr. 8.6
G – Hannah Whitish 5-9 Sr. 8.3
LINCOLN — Aside from one guard — senior Hannah Whitish — the Nebraska women’s basketball team has had a heck of a time hitting 3-pointers this season. Like, throw-it-in-the-ocean tough.
Whitish is nailing 40%. The rest of the team is shooting 24.2% from beyond the arc. Two shooters Nebraska expected to hit 40% or better — Nicea Eliely and Taylor Kissinger — are a combined 7 for 36.
Coach Amy Williams isn’t sweating it much. No, seriously.
“I’m really not too worried about it,” Williams said one day before the 7-1 Huskers host 6-2 Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. There are two reasons. First, Williams thinks Eliely and Kissinger will pull out of their perimeter slumps soon.
Second, Nebraska’s defense — one of the key emphases headed into this season — has been stronger this season. At times, a lot stronger, especially at the South Point Shootout, where NU won games over USC and Sacred Heart while allowing 54 and 49 points, respectively.
NU is allowing opponents just 57 points per game, 26.5% shooting from the 3-point line and 31.9% shooting from the field. While the Huskers’ defense isn’t quite up to the standard Williams seeks, an older roster and better attention to detail has put them in a spot to be stingy.
“We’re doing a better job of keeping the ball in front of us,” Williams said. “We’re starting to really trust each other and we can count on each other to plug lanes and seal off gaps.”
In essence, Nebraska isn’t letting opposing guards get to the basket as easily, and post players — like Kate Cain — are doing better at winning individual matchups. Last season, NU’s defense, using four freshmen, could break down late in the shot clock and give up a foul or an easy layup. That’s happening less frequently this year.
Plus, Cain — an excellent help defender because of her shot-blocking ability — is doing better against players her own size, Williams said.
Duke, annually one of the biggest teams in women’s college basketball, will present Cain and the rest of the frontcourt with a different kind of challenge from many of the smaller, quicker teams NU has played to date. The Blue Devils have six players 6-foot-2 or taller, including starting center Jade Williams. Duke generally has a roster full of McDonald’s All-Americans — Williams is one — but is coming off a rare 15-15 season under coach Joanne P. McCallie, who made the Final Four with Michigan State and made four straight Elite Eights with Duke.
“Duke is really, really deep and has a lot of scorers,” Williams said. The Blue Devils also lost to Nebraska in the 2014 Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 60-54.