Hurrdat Sports

↓ The Local Coverage You Need ↓

Hail Varsity
Mavericks All Access
Bluejay Breakdown
NEB Preps
NEB Pros

Nebraska Enters Test at Michigan in Need of a Bounceback

by Feb 6, 2024Nebraska Womens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhusker forward Jessica Petrie (12) makes a basket against the Michigan Wolverines in the second half during a college basketball game on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John Peterson

True freshman Jessica Petrie expressed confidence in the moments following the Nebraska’s worst loss of the season.

The Huskers had just fallen at home to a Rutgers team that was previously 0-10 in Big Ten play, failing to convert several late chances at taking the lead. Their previous home losses came to currently ranked teams, and every other shortcoming still against a quality opponent. 

This one marked a low point for the team, the third loss in four games and one that has changed the postseason picture. Each game on the remainder of the schedule becomes important, starting with the next one against an up-and-down Michigan team.

Nebraska beat the Wolverines by nearly 20 points at home in mid-January. That performance, and the most recent one, may be fueling the Huskers as they make the trip to Ann Arbor.

“I think knowing how well we played against them last time here at home, we know how much better we are than them,” Petrie said postgame on Saturday. “And like [Kendall Moriarty] said, we don’t want to feel this feeling again throughout the season so I think using that as motivation to come out and just punch first.”

The Huskers did come out swinging in the first matchup against the Wolverines, taking a 17-3 lead in the opening quarter. Michigan fought back a little bit, but never found a way to get going offensively, ending the game with a season-worst 43 points. 

Michigan has gone 3-2 since, a mixed bag of results making up those games. It beat Rutgers, Maryland and Penn State, but lost by 21 to Michigan State and fell by 13 at home against Illinois. 

That’s generally a good stretch, in line with the rest of the season for the team, but all of the Wolverines’ losses have been decided by double-digits. That helps explain why they hold an NET ranking of 52 despite having wins over teams like Penn State and Ohio State. 

Nebraska’s defense will look to show up again. It forced 23 turnovers against Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights otherwise found good looks often against the Huskers, shooting just under 60% from the field. Williams felt the team simply wasn’t focused enough on that end of the floor, partly due to their offensive struggles. 

The personnel for both sides might also be a little bit different. In the first matchup, Michigan was missing fifth-year guard Elissa Brett, who averages 7.8 points per game and has scored double-digits six times this season. Meanwhile, Nebraska starter Darian White exited late in Saturday’s loss with an apparent leg injury, heading off to the locker room and not returning. 

The Husker fifth-year guard played a big role in the previous meeting, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. Her status won’t be known until availability reports come out a couple hours before game time, but if she isn’t able to play, that’s another challenge for the visiting team to overcome.  

A road win against another team on the NCAA Tournament bubble might not bring the Huskers completely back to safety, but it’d be a necessary step in the right direction. ESPN dropped Nebraska to a projected 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament after its loss to Rutgers, though the Huskers aren’t quite listed in the “On The Bubble” section. 

Even without looking at the big picture, an impressive win here would help restabilize the team. That’s important, especially as the next two games after Tuesday are against current top-five foes. 

You May Also Like

Oregon State, Raegan Beers Stand in Way of Nebraska’s Sweet 16 Hopes

Oregon State, Raegan Beers Stand in Way of Nebraska’s Sweet 16 Hopes

Nebraska women’s basketball has accomplished some difficult things already this postseason. First of all, the Huskers won a game in the NCAA Tournament, something the program hadn’t done in a decade. Even as a No. 6 seed, that’s a challenge. Louisville was upset by...