Nebraska women’s basketball opened the season strong Monday, blowing out Northwestern State 90-42.
The Huskers started on a 16-0 run and it remained a double-digit lead from then on. Six players scored in double figures, led by Jaz Shelley’s 17 points. The fifth year guard also added five rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
What led Nebraska to the blowout win was the defensive end of the floor.
Northwestern State ended the first half with 14 turnovers and just 12 points. The Demons had droughts of at least four minutes to begin the first three quarters, and finished the game shooting 21.8% overall. Guards Jaz Shelley and Darian White harassed opposing ball-handlers all game, both coming up with three steals.
“We played really good defense,” Shelley said postgame. “For probably three-and-a-half quarters.”
The visitors were able to find a bit of a rhythm in the fourth, scoring 20 points. Eight of those points came at the free-throw line, where the Demons earned 12 attempts from Nebraska fouls.
However, there was enough defense to create a 40-point cushion. Nebraska’s offense didn’t necessarily play poorly, but the team turned it over 14 times in the game and shot 28.6% from 3 in the first half. The Huskers scored 21 of their 46 first half points off turnovers.
Coach Amy Williams wants this team’s biggest strength to come on that end. Monday was an impressive start, though future opponents will provide a tougher test.
Newcomers Play Well
Similar to the exhibition game, Nebraska’s newcomers impressed.
Two found their way into the starting lineup and finished in double digits. Transfer guard Darian White scored 13 points to go along with nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. True freshman forward Natalie Potts finished with 10 points and five rebounds, adding a block and two steals. Both scored and defended well, with the only real negative being five combined turnovers from the two.
Off the bench, the other two freshmen made an impact. Forward Jessica Petrie shot 1-for-2 from the field but also attempted eight free throws, making five to reach seven points. Guard Logan Nissley, a well-regarded shooter, took all her attempts from behind the arc and missed her first six before finishing 1-for-8.
Still, Nissley recorded a block and a steal, making a few defensive plays throughout the contest. Those plays are going to make Williams happy, as the team knows the shots will eventually fall.
“She had some blocked shots and made a couple defensive plays, which is great to see,” Williams said. “… Everybody on our team knows that Logan Nissley is one of the best 3-point shooters on our team and in this conference. Everytime I heard Jaz [Shelley] say to her, ‘keep shooting Logan,’ she just kept saying ‘Oh, I will.'”
The four newcomers will likely all continue to play a role, especially the two starters. There’s been plenty to like from the team’s offseason additions.
Krull’s Status in Question
One thing that was unexpected pregame at Pinnacle Bank Arena was the sight of starting guard Maddie Krull in a boot.
As a number of Husker guards got injured last season, she was a consistent starter for the team down the stretch last season. However, she was sidelined to start this year’s campaign. Krull is one of three players the team is currently without, along with Allison Weidner and Maggie Mendelson. The former is out for the year with a leg injury, while the latter is a two-sport athlete currently with the volleyball team.
The severity of Krull’s foot injury — suffered in practice on Saturday — is not yet known, according to Williams. Kendall Moriarty stepped into the lineup Monday, and presumably would as long as the senior is out.
Nebraska will know more in the coming days, and it’ll be worth watching her status on the road at Wyoming on Friday and going forward. Krull might not be the most statistically productive starter for the Huskers, but the team sure wouldn’t like to lose another experienced guard for a significant amount of time.