Lincoln – Annika Stewart erupted for a career-high 21 points and Jaz Shelley notched her third double-double of the season to lead Nebraska to a 72-61 women’s basketball win over defending Mountain West Conference champion Wyoming on Wednesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Playing in front of a crowd of more than 4,500 for a noon tip-off, Nebraska completed just the second undefeated non-conference campaign in school history by knocking off its third 2021 NCAA Tournament team and its third defending conference champion. The Big Red improved to 12-0 with a perfect 11-0 non-conference record, joining the 2009-10 Huskers as the only Nebraska women’s basketball teams to go through non-conference play unbeaten.
Shelley, a 5-9 sophomore from Moe, Australia, was the driving force behind Nebraska’s victory over the gritty Cowgirls (4-5), finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and a steal. She had all seven of her assists in the opening half, while adding seven points and five boards in 14 first-half minutes.
While Shelley got Nebraska off and running, Stewart produced the best day of her college career with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in just 15 minutes of work. The 6-3 post from Minneapolis, Minn., knocked down 3-of-7 three-pointers while adding a career-high five two-point field goals. She also added a career-best three blocked shots on the defensive end.
Stewart was a key player in Nebraska building a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter after scoring 10 straight points for the Huskers in the third period to turn a 46-33 NU edge into a 56-37 lead with two minutes left in the period.
The Huskers took their biggest lead of the game on an Alexis Markowski free throw that made it 60-40 with 9:17 left in the game. Nebraska maintained a 19-point advantage with just over four minutes left, before the Cowgirls produced a 10-0 run in a two-minute span to cut the margin to single digits. NU closed out the 11-point win for its ninth win by double digits in 11 non-conference games.
Isabelle Bourne added a strong effort with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers, while starters Sam Haiby and Bella Cravens each added nine points in another balanced Big Red effort.
In a high-scoring first quarter, Nebraska shot to a 23-20 lead thanks to 5-of-6 shooting with a pair of threes by the Husker starters. Stewart then came off the bench to bury a pair of threes, before MiCole Cayton sank another three at the buzzer to give the Big Red the edge heading to the second quarter. NU knocked down 5-of-8 threes in the opening 10 minutes, while the Cowgirls sank all three of their three-point attempts.
Nebraska extended its lead to 42-31 at halftime thanks to a tightened second-quarter defense that limited Wyoming to just 5-of-19 shooting in the quarter, including 1-of-7 from long range. The Husker starters went 7-of-9 from the field in the second period, including 2-of-2 from long range. NU’s starting five finished the first half a combined 12-for-15 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from long range.
For the game, Nebraska hit 45.9 percent (28-61) of its shots from the field, including 9-of-25 three-pointers (.360). The Huskers also won the battle of the boards, 39-36, while matching Wyoming with just nine turnovers in a well-played game by both teams.
The Huskers held the Cowgirls to just 36.1 percent (22-61) shooting, including 6-of-24 threes (.250). Wyoming did knock down 11-of-14 free throws.
Freshman post Allyson Fertig led the Cowgirls with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Alba Sanchez Ramos added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Ola Ustowska put three Cowgirls in double figures with 10 points, including a pair of threes.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten road competition on Thursday, Dec. 30, when the Huskers travel to East Lansing to battle Michigan State. Tip-off with the Spartans is set for 1 p.m. (CT) The game will be broadcast on KBBN 95.3 FM with coverage on the Huskers Radio Network beginning at 12:45.