The Nebraska women’s basketball team wraps ups its 2019-20 regular season on Thursday when the Huskers head to Bloomington to battle No. 22 Indiana. Tip-off between the Huskers (17-11, 7-10 Big Ten) and the Hoosiers (21-7, 11-5 Big Ten) is set for 5 p.m. (CT) at Assembly Hall.
Nebraska will look to close the regular season with back-to-back wins after beating Illinois, 80-58, on Senior Day at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on Saturday.
Sophomore Leigha Brown (Auburn, Ind.), a leading contender for Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year, led Nebraska with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting against the Illini. She scored 17 in the first half to help the Huskers to their most explosive 20 minutes of the season with 56 first-half points. Brown tied her career high with four threes against the Illini, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Brown, who was a finalist for Indiana High School Player-of-the-Year honors as a senior at DeKalb High School in 2017-18, leads all Big Ten reserves and ranks 13th in the conference overall with 13.9 points per game. No other non-starter in the Big Ten ranks among the league’s top 30 in scoring.
The Huskers have held five straight Big Ten foes to 65 or fewer points, beginning with their 57-53 loss to Indiana in Lincoln (Feb. 9). Nebraska trailed 36-11 to the Hoosiers before rallying to tie the game at 53 in the closing minute. Indiana scored the game’s final four points in the last 30 seconds to escape with the victory. The Husker defense held Indiana to just one field goal in the game’s final 14 minutes.
Kate Cain, a top candidate for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, led Nebraska with 12 points and five blocks in the first meeting with Indiana. Cain owns the Nebraska record and recently moved into the top 10 in Big Ten history with 276 career blocks, including 97 this season.
Cain, a 6-5 junior center from Middletown, N.Y., owns more total stops (defensive rebounds, blocks, steals) with 196 than any other player in Big Ten action this season. Iowa’s Amanda Ollinger (165) and Purdue’s two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Ae’Rianna Harris (154) are the only other league defenders with more than 150 stops in Big Ten play.
Scouting The Indiana Hoosiers
• No. 22 Indiana heads into Thursday’s game fighting for a top-four spot in the Big Ten standings. The Hoosiers (11-5) are a game in front of Ohio State (10-6) but the Buckeyes own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Indiana is 21-7 overall, including a 57-53 win over Nebraska in Lincoln (Feb. 9).
• Indiana went 10-2 in non-conference play with its only losses to current No. 2 and defending national champion Baylor (77-62, Nov. 29) and current No. 9 UCLA (68-58, Dec. 22). The Hoosiers are the only team this season to beat No. 1 South Carolina (71-57, Nov. 28).
• Indiana opened Big Ten play 4-0 to improve to 14-2 before losing to Iowa (2OT), Northwestern (OT) and at Maryland. The Hoosiers rebounded with four wins before a second loss to Maryland. They notched wins at Nebraska and Illinois before suffering their only loss this season to an unranked team, an 80-76 setback to Ohio State (Feb. 16). The Hoosiers defeated Minnesota 75-69 on Saturday.
• Ali Patberg leads Indiana with 14.6 points and 5.4 assists. The 5-11 fifth-year junior who transferred from Notre Dame prior to last season, is averaging 16.4 points in Big Ten play. She is shooting 48.2 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 79.7 percent at the free throw line in league play. Patberg is averaging 16 points and five assists in two meetings with Nebraska.
• Sophomore Grace Berger is one of the Big Ten’s most improved players. The 6-0 guard is averaging 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She has hit 46.8 percent of her field goals, 33.3 percent of her threes and 74.7 percent of her free throws. Last year, Berger averaged 5.5 points per game. She had nine points and 15 rebounds at Nebraska (Feb. 9).
• Indiana’s strong starting backcourt also features junior Jaelynn Penn. The 5-10 guard is averaging 10.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Penn, who was a second-team All-Big Ten choice last year, leads the Hoosiers with 99 straight starts and has scored 1,179 points in her Indiana career. Penn has averaged 18.3 points in three meetings with Nebraska, including a game-high 14 in Lincoln (Feb. 9).
• Brenna Wise, a 6-0 forward who transferred from Pittsburgh prior to last season, has made 62 straight starts for the Hoosiers. She is averaging 8.3 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds, after averaging 12.0 points and 6.8 rebounds last year. Wise was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten choice in 2019. She had 10 points and five boards at Nebraska (Feb. 9).
• Sophomore Aleksa Gulbe provides the Indiana starting five with size and skill, averaging 8.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The 6-3 forward is a member of Latvia’s U20 National Team.
• The Hoosiers get more size and explosiveness off the bench from freshman Mackenzie Holmes. The 6-3 forward from Gorham, Maine, is averaging 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds. She has hit 63.2 percent of her shots from the field.
• Indiana also gets contributions off the bench from redshirt freshman Chanel Wilson (2.6 ppg), Jorie Allen (2.2 ppg) and Keyanna Warthen (1.5 ppg).
• As a team, Indiana is shooting a strong 46.4 percent from the field, including 30 percent from three-point range. The Hoosiers have hit 71.3 percent of their free throws. Although they don’t have a player averaging 6.0 rebounds per game, the Hoosiers own a plus-4.9 team rebounding margin. Indiana also owns a plus-1.3 team turnover margin. Indiana was plus-six on the glass (49-43) and plus-six in turnovers (16-10) in the first meeting with Nebraska this season.
Nebraska vs. Indiana Series History
• Indiana leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 7-5, including back-to-back four-point wins (82-78, Feb. 3, 2019; 57-53, Feb. 9, 2020) at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. Seven of the 12 meetings in the series have been decided by single digits, including each of the last four games.
• The Hoosiers have won three straight in the series, including an 83-75 victory in Bloomington (Feb. 17, 2018). The last meeting at Indiana was also Senior Day for the Hoosiers.
• Since joining the Big Ten Conference in 2011-12, Nebraska has matched Indiana, 5-5.
• The last two games have featured Nebraska rallying from double-digit deficits in the second half to tie the game in the fourth quarter, before falling down the stretch.
• Nebraska is 3-4 all-time against Indiana in Lincoln. Indiana owns a 3-2 series edge in Bloomington. The two teams have never met on a neutral court.
• Indiana won the first meeting in series history with an 83-80 overtime win at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln on Nov. 26, 1994.