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Nebraska Women’s Basketball’s Season Ends With Round of 32 Loss to Oregon State

by Mar 24, 2024Nebraska Womens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Jaz Shelley
Photo Credit: Eric Francis


Nebraska women’s basketball’s season came to an end on Sunday, as the Huskers lost to Oregon State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

No. 3 seed Oregon State played shutdown defense in a sold-out home game, with the Huskers being held to 37 points before the final two minutes. They stayed within range in a slugfest for over three quarters, but the Beavers finally broke free for a 61-51 win.

“They made things very difficult for us on [offense] and it was not our best offensive showing of the season,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “That makes it really tough for it to end that way but I’m so proud of this team. I’ve enjoyed the ride with them so much.”

Natalie Potts and Alexis Markowski combined to shoot 5-for-25 from the field. Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck wanted to be able to defend well one-on-one in the frontcourt not only due to the talent of that pair, but because it’d open things up on the perimeter for Husker guards.

His team was outstanding in executing that gameplan. The Beavers blocked 10 shots in the paint, while the Huskers started 1-for-15 from three. Nebraska players couldn’t shake defenders on or off the ball. Markowski was given a few open threes, but missed all four she took.

Part of the problem may have been the visitors simply not shooting it as well as usual. But they also struggled to get good looks throughout the night.

Nebraska stayed in the game through its own defense. Between the end of the first half and start of the second, Oregon State went nine minutes and 30 seconds without points. All-American center Raegan Beers made plenty of plays to help give her team the lead and was outstanding overall, but only scored 10 points.

Oregon State was just missing its shots too to some extent, but it did break through eventually. Three 3-pointers extended a six-point advantage to a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Nebraska scored the next six, but that’s the only push it was able to make late.

Talia von Oelhoffen led with 19 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. Timea Gardiner had 17 points, seven boards and four rejections. Oregon State led for over 38 minutes of game time and trailed for just 10 seconds.

“Playing from behind, especially on their home floor is super difficult and I felt like we really fought till the end,” Markowski said. “But just that lead, we did cut it smaller, but it just was too big from the jump.”

Star guard Jaz Shelley played her final game as a Huskers, scoring six of her 10 points with the game already decided. She shot 3-for-10 from the field and still finished with six rebounds, seven assists, a block and a steal.

She, Markowski and Williams were emotional in the postgame press conference.

“It’s meant everything,” Shelley said of her three years with the program. “…I really found who I was and I benefited so much from being at this university.”

The year ends as a successful one for the team, highlighted by a run to the Big Ten tourney final and an NCAA Tournament win. Those are heights that hadn’t been reached before under Williams.

Markowski took a leap for the team in becoming a first-team all-conference player at center. Potts was the league freshman of the year, while freshman Logan Nissley also proved herself a valuable starter.

Shelley’s departure will be felt, as will grad transfer guard Darian White’s. Maddie Krull and Annika Stewart both have decisions to make about using their extra year of eligibility. There’s talent coming in though, such as top-30 in-state recruit Britt Prince.

In the moment postgame, however, with the season and college careers having come to an end, the team’s thoughts couldn’t be on the future.

“I think we’ll have plenty of time for that, to really look and kind of take the things that we think we can really pull from this experience and be able to use that to motivate the players that are currently going to be returning in this program,” Williams said. “But right now it’s just so sore, it’s just so tender. Just thinking about the ones that are not going to be able to continue that journey with us, and so that’s kind of where our focus is at.”

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