Huskers Go Head-to-Head with Hawkeyes Thursday
The Nebraska women’s basketball team returns home to Pinnacle Bank Arena to take on Iowa Thursday night in a key Big Ten battle. Tip-off between the Huskers (9-7, 7-6 Big Ten) and Hawkeyes (10-6, 6-6 Big Ten) is set for 7 p.m. (CT). The game will be broadcast on KBBN 95.3 FM with coverage on the Huskers Sports Network beginning at 6:45
Nebraska’s season series opener with Iowa was moved to Thursday (Feb. 11) from its original Wednesday (Feb. 10) to accommodate rescheduling for the Husker men’s basketball team, which flipped a Thursday game against Wisconsin to Wednesday to allow for a Friday matchup with Illinois.
Nebraska is coming off back-to-back road losses at Penn State (Feb. 4) and Rutgers (Feb. 7) during a five-day East Coast road trip. It was NU’s third five-day road trip of Big Ten play.
Sam Haiby, who posted her sixth 20-point effort of the season at Rutgers, continues to rise as a star in the Big Ten. The 5-9 junior from Moorhead, Minn., leads Nebraska in scoring (17.4 ppg), assists (4.2 apg) and steals (1.2 spg) while ranking second on the team in rebounding (7.4 rpg). She has made four appearances on the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll. Haiby also owns three double-doubles.
The Big Red welcomed the return of Isabelle Bourne to the starting lineup at Rutgers, after she made her first appearance in five games off the bench at Penn State. Bourne, who missed four games with an ankle injury suffered in the closing seconds of a win over then-No. 23 Michigan State (Jan. 10), is averaging 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds on the season.
Senior Kate Cain anchors Nebraska’s defense. The 6-5 center leads the Big Ten with 3.3 blocks per game and ranks No. 6 in Big Ten history with a Nebraska-record 333 career blocks. One of 15 candidates for the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year Award, Cain is also a three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate who ranks No. 2 among active NCAA Division I players in career blocked shots. She is averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season for the Big Red.
Cain is also closing in on 1,000 career points, entering the Iowa game with 975 in her career.
Nebraska’s roster has a pair of tight connections to the Iowa program. Freshman forward Annika Stewart is the younger sister of former Hawkeye Hannah Stewart. Annika is averaging 6.1 points and 3.2 rebounds with six double-figure scoring games for the Huskers. Kendall Coley, an early enrollee who joined the Nebraska program officially on Jan. 19, is the younger sister of former Hawkeye Chase Coley. Kendall has appeared in two games for NU since starting practice on Jan. 22.
Scouting The Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa comes to Lincoln at 10-6 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten, right behind Nebraska in the conference standings.
The Hawkeyes have dropped three of their last four games but have continued to feature a high-powered offense. Iowa is averaging 87.4 points per game on the season and 83.3 points over the past four games despite going 1-3 in that stretch.
Iowa is shooting better than 50 percent from the field (.506), including 37.1 percent from three-point range while averaging 8.6 made threes per contest. The Hawkeyes are also hitting 78.5 percent of their free throws.
Iowa’s explosive offense features Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate Caitlin Clark, who ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring at 25.9 points per game through the first 16 games of her career.
While Clark plays with the ball in her hands and averages 19.1 field goal attempts, 6.5 free throws, 6.4 assists and 5.0 turnovers per game, her top target as a passer is junior post Monika Czinano. The 6-3 forward/center is averaging 19.4 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 67.8 percent from the field. Czinano, who ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring, has hit just four fewer field goals than Clark on 106 fewer attempts as the highest scoring duo in the Big Ten.
Iowa features a third double-digit scorer in sophomore McKenna Warnock. The 6-1 guard/forward is averaging 12.3 points and a team-best 9.6 rebounds per game. Warnock is a knock-down shooter who has hit 45.6 percent (26-57) of her threes.
Sophomore Gabbie Marshall gives Iowa another knock-down shooter, hitting 25-of-58 threes (.431). The 5-9 Marshall is the only Hawkeye starter listed under 6-feet tall. She is averaging 8.4 points per game, while leading the Hawkeyes with 38 steals (2.4 spg).
Redshirt sophomore Kate Martin rounds out Iowa’s probable starting five with 6.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
While Iowa’s five starters all average more than 27 minutes per game, the Hawkeyes feature a capable bench of contributors. Juniors Tomi Taiwo (3.9 ppg) and Logan Cook (2.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg) give Iowa experience along with seniors Alexis Sevillian and Zion Sanders. Sophomore Megan Meyer (3.5 ppg) and freshmen Sharon Goodman (3.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg) and Lauren Jensen (1.8 ppg) round out the Hawkeyes.
Although Iowa features the No. 2 offense in the Big Ten, the Hawkeye defense ranks 13th in the league, allowing 80.8 points per game. Iowa owns a plus-3.5 team rebound margin but a minus-1.1 team turnover margin. Opponents are hitting 44.6 percent of their shots from the field, including 33 percent of their threes, and Iowa is allowing more than eight made threes per game.
Over the last seven games, the Hawkeyes have allowed 82 points per contest and are 2-5 during that stretch. They also chose not to travel to Maryland (Jan. 21) because of fears surrounding the Presidential inauguration ceremonies. Maryland leads the Big Ten in scoring at 91.5 points per game.
Nebraska vs. Iowa Series History
Nebraska and Iowa are tied 15-15 in the all-time series. The Huskers defeated the Hawkeyes 78-69 last season (Dec. 28, 2019) at Pinnacle Bank Arena, before Iowa salvaged a season split with a 76-60 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Feb. 6, 2020).