Winston-Salem, N.C. – In a battle of unbeatens, Nebraska dominated from start to finish and continued to surge down the stretch in an 86-60 win over 2021 NCAA Tournament qualifier Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 8-0 for the first time since 2009-10. Wake Forest, who entered the game as one of 23 undefeated teams in the nation, slipped to 7-1. The Huskers have produced their first eight-game winning streak since reeling off 10 straight wins from Jan. 20 to Feb. 28, 2013.
The Demon Deacons, who entered the contest as one of the nation’s best defensive teams allowing just 49 points and three three-pointers per game, watched Nebraska put up 86 points while burying 10 three-pointers. The Huskers won every quarter by at least two possessions despite early foul trouble on starters Sam Haiby, Ashley Scoggin and Bella Cravens.
Jaz Shelley continued her outstanding play to open her Husker career with game highs of 18 points and six assists. The 5-9 sophomore guard from Moe, Australia, shot Nebraska to a 19-15 lead at the end of the first with 11 big points, including a trio of early three-pointers against one of the nation’s best three-point field goal defenses.
The Huskers also got four points inside from Cravens and their fourth three-pointer of the quarter on a Kendall Coley hit off the bench. Cravens finished with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field, while adding six rebounds in the game.
In the second quarter, the Huskers were strapped with foul trouble on Scoggin and Haiby, but graduate MiCole Cayton answered the bell in a big way. The 5-9 guard from Stockton, Calif., erupted for 12 points – a Nebraska career high – including a pair of three-pointers in the first two minutes of the quarter. Cayton also got a steal at halfcourt that led to a three-point play by Annika Stewart, as the Huskers took their first double-digit lead at 25-15 less than a minute into the second period.
Cayton finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including both of her three-point attempts, while adding a rebound, an assist and a steal in just 13 minutes of action.
Coley added her second three-pointer of the game late in the second quarter to give Nebraska seven first-half threes against a Wake Forest team that had allowed just 21 threes in the first seven games. The Huskers led 43-30 at the half after leading by as many as 15 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Coley finished the game with eight points, two rebounds, an assist and a block, helping the Big Red bench outscore the Demon Deacon reserves 38-8 in the game.
In the second half, the Huskers refused to give Wake Forest a glimmer of hope on its home court. The Deacons never pulled within single digits in the second half. Nebraska’s lead grew to 62-44 at the end of three quarters and the Huskers pushed the margin to 26 points for the first time with approximately three minutes left and kept it there until the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Isabelle Bourne, who did not score in the first half, finished with nine second-half points while pulling down five rebounds. She added three assists in the contest without a turnover.
Scoggin sank the three to put the Big Red up by 26 for the first time at 78-52, then added another to keep the margin at 81-55 to account for her six points. Freshman Allison Weidner also pitched in six points in the game.
Stewart finished with five points and three rebounds, while Alexis Markowski contributed three points and five boards. Kendall Moriarty and Ruby Porter rounded out NU’s scoring with two points apiece as 12 Huskers scored in the contest.
For the game, Nebraska hit 53.3 percent (32-60) of its shots from the field against a team that entered the contest holding opponents to less than 33 percent shooting on the season. The Big Red buried 10-of-28 threes (.357) while connecting on 12-of-14 free throws (.857). Nebraska out-rebounded Wake Forest, 40-36, and won the turnover battle 12-10. NU turned those 12 turnovers into 18 points, while the Demon Deacons managed just three points off Husker mistakes.
Nebraska limited Wake to just 31.3 percent (21-67) shooting, including a dismal 3-of-24 from three-point range. Deacon leading scorer Jewel Spear managed 17 points, but it took her 17 field goal attempts, including 2-of-11 from three-point range. Olivia Summiel added 12 points and six rebounds, while Elise Williams managed 10 points. Only six Deacons find the scoring column on the night.
The Huskers complete their four-game road swing on Monday (Dec. 6) when they open Big Ten Conference action at Minnesota. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Golden Gophers is set for 7 p.m.