HUSKER WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Shelley’s 32 Points and Nine Three-Pointers Lift Nebraska Past Illinois

INDIANAPOLIS–(NU Athletics Mar. 3)–Jaz Shelley set the Nebraska single-game school record with nine three-pointers to lead a Big Red barrage from long range, as the Huskers rolled to a 92-74 win over Illinois in the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday night.

Shelley, a sophomore from Moe, Australia, drained a tournament record-tying nine threes, while the Huskers sank a tournament team record 15 triples on the night. The 5-9 guard finished with a Nebraska career-high 32 points, tying the fourth-most points ever scored by a Big Red player in a conference tournament game. Her performance tied her overall career scoring high which came in her freshman season at Oregon (2019-20), when she sank a collegiate-best 10 threes against UC Riverside.

With the victory, Nebraska improved to 23-7 overall on the season with its sixth win in the last seven games. The sixth-seeded Huskers advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal match-up with No. 3 seed Michigan. The AP No. 10 Wolverines fell to the Huskers in the only regular-season meeting in Lincoln (Jan. 4). Nebraska will face Michigan in the fourth and final game of the day at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday, with an approximate tip time of 7:30 p.m. (CT). Live television coverage will be provided by the Big Ten Network.

In addition to the huge shooting night from Shelley, the second-team All-Big Ten point guard added five rebounds, seven assists and two steals. She was far from alone in fueling a Nebraska offense that scored its most points ever in a conference tournament game (Big Eight, Big 12, Big Ten) with 92.

Big Ten Freshman of the Year Alexis Markowski powered in 22 points while adding a team-high nine rebounds and a career-high three blocked shots. The 6-3 forward/center from Lincoln helped start the onslaught from behind the arc by knocking down three three-pointers in the first half.

Sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne continued her outstanding play with 15 points, including a pair of threes of her own, while pitching in four rebounds and four assists. Junior guard Sam Haiby rounded out four Huskers in double figures with 10 points and six assists.

Freshman guard Allison Weidner contributed six points, three rebounds and three assists in her fifth consecutive start, while Bella Cravens pitched in five points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Nebraska, which led from start to finish after Haiby opened the game with a three-pointer, hit 47.8 percent (33-69) of its shots from the field for the game, including 15-of-32 threes (.469), shattering the NU single-season record for made three-pointers with 259 on the season (previous record 250, 2017-18).

The Huskers also hit 11-of-15 free throws (.733) and out-rebounded the Fighting Illini (7-20) 43-32.

Illinois countered by hitting 43.5 percent (27-62), including 5-of-13 threes (.385). The Illini also sank 15-of-21 free throws. Adalia McKenzie led Illinois with 18 points, while Aaliyah Nye and Jayla Oden each pitched in 14 points.

In a well-played and fast-paced first half, Nebraska built a 42-27 halftime lead by hitting 51.5 percent (17-33) of its shots in the first 20 minutes, including 8-of-18 three-pointers. Markowski, who finished with 13 first-half points, and Shelley, who added 11, both hit three triples in the half to fuel the Huskers.

Bourne added a strong half with nine points – all in the first quarter, including a three-pointer – while Haiby also pitched in seven points, including NU’s first three to open the game. Haiby got her seven points in the first 12 minutes before being whistled for her second foul with 8:05 left in the half. When Haiby exited, Nebraska was up seven, but pushed the lead to 17 points (40-23) just four minutes later after Shelley and Markowski took turns sinking four straight three-pointers.

The Huskers held Illinois to 36.7 percent (11-30), including 2-of-5 threes. The Fighting Illini did outscore Nebraska 5-2 at the free throw line, but the Big Red outworked Illinois 19-17 on the glass in the first half, while also winning the turnover battle 3-2. McKenzie kept Illinois within striking distance in the half by scoring eight points, including the Illini’s final six points in final three minutes of the half.

Nebraska’s lead grew to 68-52 at the end of three quarters, before Shelley put the Illini away early in the fourth. After back-to-back buckets by Markowski and Bourne pushed NU’s lead to 20 at 72-52, Shelley then hit four three-pointers in a three-minute span to extend NU’s margin to 86-62 with 5:30 left. She hit 6-of-7 threes in the second half alone and exited the contest with 5:18 to play.