HUSKER WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Big Second Half Lifts Nebraska Past Samford

LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Dec. 10)–Sophomores Alexis Markowski and Allison Weidner both produced double-doubles, as Nebraska used a huge second half on its way to a 71-46 women’s basketball win over Samford at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday night.

Markowski, a 6-3 center from Lincoln, Neb., put up game highs of 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots to power the Huskers inside, while Weidner, a 5-10 guard from Humphrey, Neb., added 15 points and 11 boards to go along with a game-high five steals.

A third sophomore, 6-1 guard Kendall Moriarty, added a career-high 11 points, including a trio of three-pointers in the second half, to help spark Nebraska (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten). Samford slipped to 4-8 with the loss, despite leading 16-15 at the end of the lowest-scoring first-half in Husker women’s basketball history.

Jaz Shelley added 15 points and a game-high six assists, including 10 points in the fourth quarter. After a low-scoring first half, the Huskers outscored Samford 56-30 in the second half and hit  a scorching 10-of-17 threes in the final 20 minutes. It marks the first time in school history that Nebraska has hit double-digit threes in three consecutive games, joining a 13-for-28 effort in a win over Wisconsin (Dec. 7) and a 12-for-25 performance in a win at No. 20 Maryland (Dec. 4). The Huskers finished 11-for-29 from three-point range against the Bulldogs.

The Big Red went just 1-for-12 from long range in the opening 20 minutes against Samford and connected on just 20.7 percent (6-29) of its overall field goal attempts in the first half.

As cold as the Huskers were in the first half, their defense kept them close, limiting Samford to just 6-of-24 shooting (.250), including 2-for-10 from long range.

Nebraska went to the halftime locker room and chose to start over. All the Huskers unlaced their shoes, took them off, and then put them on again to begin the second half. It took only a few moments for the symbolic gesture to kick start Nebraska. Fourteen seconds into the third quarter, Weidner gave the Big Red its first lead with her driving layup.

Samford, which has won two of the past three Southern Conference regular-season titles, answered with a bucket from Kate Wheeler, before Maddie Krull sank Nebraska’s second three-pointer of the night 2:11 into the third quarter to put the Huskers up 20-18. Krull’s triple opened the flood gates from beyond the arc for the Big Red, beginning a 12-0 run that took just 2:29 and included a three-pointer from Annika Stewart, three free throws from Weidner and a three-pointer from Markowski with 5:29 left in the third to put Nebraska up 29-18 and force a Samford timeout. It also gave Markowski her 10th career double-double and fourth of the season.

Samford stopped the run with a basket from Carly Heidger, who finished with nine points off the bench, before Stewart added a three-point play to push the Nebraska margin to 32-20. Stewart, who made her second straight start in place of an injured Isabelle Bourne, finished with eight points and five rebounds.

Weidner extended the margin to 13 points, before Samford rallied to cut the Husker lead to 36-29 with 2:16 left in the period. Moriarty then stepped up to bury a pair of three-pointers in the final two minutes to send Nebraska to the fourth quarter with a 44-33 lead after outscoring Samford 29-17 in the period. The Huskers were 5-for-7 from beyond the arc in the quarter.

Moriarty then opened the fourth quarter with her career-high third three-pointer. Weidner and Shelley each hit a pair of threes in the final period, as Nebraska closed out the win by outscoring Samford 27-13 in the fourth quarter while going 5-for-10 from behind the arc.

For the game, Nebraska finished 40 percent (26-65) from the field and knocked down 8-of-11 free throws (.727). The Huskers limited Samford to 31.5 percent shooting (17-54), including just 2-for-15 (.133) from long range. The Big Red outscored the Bulldogs 30-0 from three-point range in the second half. Samford hit 10-of-16 free throws (.625).

Nebraska won the battle of the boards, 42-37, and posted a plus-eight turnover margin (19-11). In the first half, Nebraska had just one assist against 10 turnovers. In the second half, the Huskers dished out 14 assists and committed just one turnover.

Sussy Ngulefac led Samford with 14 points, while Andrea Cournoyer contributed 10 points and a team highs of four assists and three steals.

Nebraska will take Finals Week off from competition before returning to Pinnacle Bank Arena to host Wyoming on Sunday, Dec. 18. Tip-off between the Huskers and Cowgirls is set for 2 p.m. with tickets available now at Live statewide television coverage will be provided by Nebraska Public Media with a live video stream for subscribers of B1G+.