Same Problem; Different Solutions.
After winning their first conference outings, both Minnesota (1-1) and Nebraska (1-1) are coming off late game losses giving up leads of 7 points (Minnesota) and 9 points (Nebraska). However, Lindsay Whalen and Amy Williams’ are likely taking different approaches to getting back on the winning track-post play for the Huskers and the guard play for the Gophers.
The Husker’s were 10-1 in the non-conference season playing a schedule whose RPI strength was 311. Obviously, it was one of the nation’s weakest non-con schedules:
Wins: Alabama A&M 68-46; @Missouri 90-85 (OT); Morgan State 78-55; SIUE 63-49; Southern 73-39; (N) Southern Cal 67-54; (N) Sacred Heart 72-49; Duke 83-79; Oral Roberts; 77-67; and Manhatten 71-51.
Loss: Creighton 74-79.
And it may be a strong argument in favor of weak schedules. Out of the Big Ten gate, the Husker’s defeated their almost mirror image rivals Iowa Hawkeyes in Lincoln 78-69. Then, late in a grinding game at Michigan State, the Husker’s held a nine point lead before succumbing to the Spartans 78-70.
Iowa versus Nebraska:
Nebraska, like Iowa, feature rugged post play and streak shooting tricky guards. It was a heavy weight battle in the paint. Nebraska 6’5” Center, Kate Cain’s 32 minutes, 16 points and 12 rebounds matched Iowa’s Monika Czinano’s, 34 minutes 16 points and 17 rebounds.
At the four, the Huskers got good performances out of Ashtyn Veerbeek (5 points) and Leigha Brown (who led Nebraska in scoring during the non-conference season had 10 points); but it was Aussie Isabelle Bourne who provided an eight point (two threes and a layup), three rebound, 1:20 minute spurt sparking the Huskers mid-way through the second quarter.
Hawkeye and former Husker, Kathleen Doyle, much to the delight of the Lincoln crowd found a seat on the Hawkeye bench after picking up two quick fouls in the first four minutes. Doyle scored 19 points but it wasn’t enough to offset Nebraska’s guard output (Whitish 11 points, Haiby 10 and Nicea 12). And the Huskers were quick enough to slow down the Hawkeye transition.
Michigan State versus Nebraska
In the Husker loss at Michigan State, the Spartans attacked Cain early and slowed down the Husker guards. Haiby led Nebraska with 19 but I think 15 of those were in the first half. More important, MSU dominated the rebounding 53-35 (especially in the second half) and held the Husker’s to 2-17 from three. As a bonus, Nebraska also struggled from the line 16-26.
Minnesota versus Nebraska:
In the game we care about on Saturday, the Minnesota and Nebraska match-ups are simple. Taiye Bello battles Kate Cain at center. Destiny Pitts battles a slew of Huskers (Veerbeck, Brown and Bourne) at the four. And then it’s guards versus the guards. Last season Taiye Bello in 34 minutes had 7 points and thirteen rebounds outdoing Kate Cain who posted 4 points and 0 rebounds in 23 minutes. Pitts in 37 minutes scored 10 points and fouled out while Veerbeek(17 minutes) scored 6 and Brown (16 minutes) 9 points.
Unfortunately, last season’s Minnesota/Nebraska game in Lincoln resembled the afore mentioned battle between the Spartans and Huskers with a better outcome for Nebraska. Trailing for much of the game, Nebraska went to a 1-3-1 zone and Minnesota’s guards melted. A 50-41 Gopher lead with seven minutes remaining was swept away. After back to back threes, Nebraska tied the score at 57 with 3:30 remaining. Then, it got worse. Minnesota committed four turnovers down the stretch helping Nebraska close out a 63-57 victory. Of note for you two post fans; Last season Lindsay Whalen started both Taiye Bello and Annalese Lamke who had 10 points and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes.
Injuries: Taylor Kissinger is out for the year with a hip injury suffered in mid-December requiring surgery.
Iowa at Nebraska Highlights:
Probable Starters (With B1G Stats):
The Bench (With B1G Stats):