Freshman Allison Weidner led four Huskers in double figures with career highs of 23 points and three three-pointers to power Nebraska to its highest scoring total of the season in Big Ten Conference play with a 93-70 run past Minnesota on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Playing in front of the second-largest crowd of the season with 6,566 fans on hand at PBA, Nebraska improved to 20-7 on the year and 9-7 in Big Ten play, while sweeping the season series from the Golden Gophers, who fell to 12-16 and 5-11 in the conference. The Huskers guaranteed themselves at least a .500 record in regular-season league action with their third win in the last four games.
Nebraska, which entered the day at No. 22 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, used a 30-point outburst in the third quarter to notch its 18th 20-win season in program history and second under Head Coach Amy Williams. Weidner led the Huskers with seven points in the quarter, while Alexis Markowski added back-to-back three-point plays. Sam Haiby added six points of her own in the quarter, as Nebraska outscored Minnesota 30-13 to turn a seven-point halftime lead into a 24-point edge heading to the fourth.
Markowski, a leading contender for Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year honors, produced another dominant performance with 15 points, nine rebounds, a block and a steal, while Haiby pitched in 14 points, six rebounds and five assists in an outstanding effort. Isabelle Bourne also continued her steady play with 17 points and four rebounds to round out the four Huskers in double figures. Graduate guard MiCole Cayton just missed a double-figure effort of her own with nine big points off the bench, including back-to-back three-pointers late in the second quarter after Minnesota cut NU’s lead to just three points at 35-32.
Jaz Shelley also played a tremendous floor game, finishing with a career-high 12 assists to go along with five points and five rebounds.
With Shelley, Haiby and Weidner at the controls, Nebraska finished 54.1 percent (33-61) from the field, including 10-of-21 (.476) from three-point range. In the second half, the Huskers hit 19-of-30 (.633) shots, including 5-of-8 threes (.625) to score 52 in the half. NU also dominated the glass against the Gophers, 39-28, and won the turnover battle, 11-9, in one of its most complete efforts of the season.
Nebraska went to halftime with a 41-34 lead thanks to 11 first-half points from Bourne on 5-of-6 shooting. Weidner helped the Huskers get out to a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter with seven points in the period.
Cayton stepped up big for the Big Red late in the half with back-to-back threes after Minnesota cut what was a 10-point Nebraska lead (35-25) to three points at 35-32 with just under two minutes left.
Shelley added three points, three rebounds and six assists in the first half to help the Huskers offset 16 first-half points by Minnesota’s Sara Scalia, who finished with 22 points to lead Minnesota in the game.
The Huskers hit 45.2 percent (14-31) of their first-half shots, including 5-of-13 three-pointers. NU also went 8-for-10 at the free throw line, while out-rebounding Minnesota 20-14 in the half.
Minnesota answered with 44.8 percent (13-29) shooting, including 2-of-5 threes. The Gophers also knocked down 6-of-7 free throws while winning the first-half turnover battle, 5-4.
Bourne scored the first two points of the second half to push Nebraska’s lead back to nine, before Kadi Sissoko, who finished with 14, made 1-of-2 free throws for Minnesota. Weidner’s second three-pointer gave Nebraska its biggest lead of the game at that point (46-35), before a pair of Haiby free throws pushed the margin to 13. Scalia answered with a field goal, before Haiby and Markowski teamed up on an 8-0 run in just one minute to push the Big Red margin to 56-37 with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
Nebraska closed the third with a 71-47 advantage and then claimed its biggest lead at 92-62 with Kendall Coley’s three-pointer with 3:21 left.
The Huskers held Minnesota, one of the Big Ten’s best three-point shooting teams, to just 2-of-9 shooting in the game from long range.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten road action on Wednesday when the Huskers travel to Wisconsin.