HUSKER WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Nebraska Routs No. 25 Illinois Behind Shelley’s 26 Points
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. –(NU Athletics Feb. 22)–Jaz Shelley led five Huskers in double figures with 26 points, while Isabelle Bourne added a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, as Nebraska put together its most complete and consistent performance of the season with a 90-57 Big Ten road win at No. 25 Illinois on Wednesday night.
Nebraska improved to 15-13 overall and 7-10 in the Big Ten with its third win over an Associated Press 5op-25 team at game time on the season, while snapping a four-game winning streak. Illinois slipped to 20-8 overall and 10-7 in the conference. Nebraska’s other top-25 wins include a 90-67 victory at then-No. 20 Maryland on Dec. 4, and an 85-79 3OT win over then-No. 20 Kansas on Dec. 21.
Shelley starred from start to finish, hitting 8-of-14 shots from the field, including 6-of-11 three-pointers, and all four of her free throw attempts while adding five rebounds and a game-high six assists. The 5-9 guard from Moe, Australia led a Nebraska onslaught from long range that featured 10-of-24 (.417) three-point shooting, marking the 13th time this season the Huskers have hit double-digit threes in a game.
Bourne, a 6-2 forward from Canberra, Australia, was just as efficient, hitting 8-of-13 shots while dominating the glass for a Big Red unit that out-rebounded Illinois, 44-24 on the game, including 29-12 in the second half.
Alexis Markowski added a strong effort of her own inside with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while guard Sam Haiby contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists of her own. Maddie Krull rounded out Nebraska’s five starters in double figures with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a three-pointer.
The Huskers also got contributions off the bench, including a pair of three-pointers from Kendall Coley, while Annika Stewart added four points and two rebounds. The 10 combined points from Coley and Stewart came on 4-for-4 combined shooting. Callin Hake added a three-pointer, while Maggie Mendelson managed one point and three boards.
As a team, Nebraska shot a sizzling 59 percent (36-61) from the floor, while knocking down 8-of-10 free throws – all in the second half. The Huskers also committed just nine turnovers against the Illini.
Makira Cook led Illinois with 16 points and five assists but went just 6-for-20 from the field, while Adalia McKenzie and Genesis Bryant each contributed 10 points. The Huskers held Kendall Bostic to eight points – all in the first half – while limiting the Big Ten’s leading rebounder to just three boards.
The Huskers held Illinois to just 34.3 percent (23-67) shooting on the night, including 6-of-26 (.231) three-pointers. Illinois also knocked down 5-of-7 free throws and committed just six turnovers.
Nebraska took a 45-35 lead to the locker room at halftime on the strength of efficient offense and strong rebounding. The Huskers hit 66.7 (20-30) percent of their shots from the field in the half, including 15-of-17 two-point field goals. Bourne led the Big Red inside with eight points on 4-of-4 two-point shooting, including six straight points midway through the second quarter to turn a 30-30 tie into a 36-30 NU edge.
Markowski added six points on 3-of-3 shooting at the rim while adding four first-half rebounds. Krull added six points of her own at the rim on three attempts, while Stewart contributed four points on a pair of two-point attempts, while Haiby pitched in six points on 3-of-5 two-point shooting, including a buzzer-beating 10-foot jumper to end the half.
While the Huskers sizzled from inside the arc, Shelley did plenty of damage from long range by hitting 4-of-8 three-pointers in the first half to lead the Big Red with 12 first-half points. Shelley added four rebounds, three assists and a steal in the half. Nebraska hit 5-of-13 threes overall in the half, including a triple off the bench from Coley.
Nebraska held Illinois to 45.5 percent (15-33) first-half shooting, including 2-of-9 three-pointers (.222). Illinois connected on 3-of-4 free throws, while Nebraska did not attempt a free throw in the half. The Huskers won the first-half battle of the boards, 15-12, but the Illini forced six NU turnovers while committing just three of their own. Bostic, Cook and McKenzie each scored eight first-half points for the Illini, who played without injured starter Brynn Shoup-Hill (lower leg injury) and Jayla Oden (hand injury).
Illinois cut the margin to seven points on two occasions early in the third before Nebraska took firm control with an 11-0 run that included four points apiece from Bourne and Shelley to turn a 47-40 lead into a 58-40 margin with 4:17 left in the third.
Bryant, who scored the Illini’s first eight points of the quarter, stopped the run with a three-pointer at the four-minute mark, but a pair of Haiby free throws, Coley’s second three-pointer, and a bucket by Markowski gave Nebraska a 65-43 advantage.
Nebraska took a 68-47 lead to the fourth quarter, but the Illini got eight quick points from Cook, including a pair of threes, in the first three minutes to trim NU’s margin to 72-55. However, the Big Red outscored Illinois 18-2 over the final seven minutes to close out the victory.
Nebraska returns home to close the regular season against Northwestern on Sunday. Tip-off between the Huskers and Wildcats on Senior Day at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 1 p.m. (CT) with tickets on sale now at Huskers.com.