Huskers Head to San Diego to Slay Dragons
Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
vs. Drexel Dragons (3-1, 0-0 CAA)
The Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament
Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, 6 p.m. (CT)
Jenny Craig Pavilion - San Diego, California
Live Video: Huskers.com (free)
Live Radio: Huskers Radio Network (5:45 p.m.)
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln (105.3 FM), Huskers.com, Huskers App
Huskers Travel to San Diego to Slay Dragons
The Nebraska women's basketball team hits the road for the first time in 2021-22, when the Huskers travel to San Diego to take on Drexel at The Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament on Friday at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Tip-off between the Huskers (5-0) and the Dragons (3-1) is set for 6 p.m. (CT), with free live video available with the Huskers Radio Network call of Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch on Huskers.com. Friday's game can be heard in Lincoln on 105.3 FM, along with free audio from Huskers.com and on the Huskers App.
Drexel will be Nebraska's first opponent this season that qualified for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The Dragons won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title last season to earn the CAA's automatic bid, before falling 67-53 to Georgia in the NCAA first round in San Antonio.
After facing the Dragons on Friday, the Huskers will battle either 2021 WNIT qualifier Fresno State or the hosts from San Diego in the second game of the four-team tournament on Saturday. San Diego is coached by former Nebraska assistant Cindy Fisher.
Nebraska is off to its second 5-0 start in the past three seasons, while showcasing the most prolific offensive stretch in school history. The Huskers lead the nation in scoring (95.6 ppg) and scoring margin (+45.6 ppg). NU's five-game season-opening home stand featured three 100-point performances, including a 113-58 win over North Carolina Central on Saturday (Nov. 20). It marked the first time in NU history that the Huskers reached the century mark three times in the same season.
The Huskers put up the fourth-most total points in school history without the services of All-Big Ten guard Sam Haiby, who sat out with a minor lower leg injury. The 5-9 guard from Moorhead, Minn., led Nebraska with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in a 67-62 win over in-state rival Creighton (Nov. 17). Haiby is averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
Jaz Shelley (Moe, Australia) stepped up in a big way in Haiby's absence, producing the fourth triple-double in school history with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in just 20 minutes. The 5-9 guard is averaging 11.2 points while leading the Huskers in rebounding (8.6 rpg), assists (5.4 apg) and blocked shots (1.6 bpg) through five games.
All-Big Ten forward Isabelle Bourne (Canberra, Australia) continues to lead the Huskers in scoring through five games with 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
14 - Bella Cravens - 6-3 - Jr. - F - 8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg
34 - Isabelle Bourne - 6-2 - So. - F - 14.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg
0 - Ashley Scoggin - 5-7 - RSo. - G - 11.0 ppg, 1.6 rpg
1 - Jaz Shelley - 5-9 - So. - G - 11.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 9.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Off the Bench
40 - Alexis Markowski - 6-3 - Fr. - F/C - 9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg
21 - Annika Stewart - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 7.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg
3 - Allison Weidner - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 7.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg
32 - Kendall Coley - 6-2 - Fr. - F/G - 6.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg
11 - Ruby Porter - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 4.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
10 - Whitney Brown - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 4.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg
15 - Kendall Moriarty - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 4.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg
5 - MiCole Cayton - 5-9 - Gr. - G - 0.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Sixth Season at Nebraska (77-75); 15th Season Overall (270-184)
Drexel Dragons (3-1, 0-0 Colonial)
3 - Tessa Brugler - 6-1 - Gr. - F - 16.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg
20 - Kate Connolly - 6-1 - Sr. - F - 6.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg
30 - Mariah Leonard - 5-10 - Gr. - F - 11.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg
1 - Keishana Washington - 5-7 - Sr. - G - 11.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg
12 - Hannah Nihill - 5-3 - Sr. - G - 12.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Off the Bench
11 - Tori Hyduke - 5-6 - Jr. - G - 5.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg
21 - Jasmine Valentine - 5-11 - So. - F - 1.3 ppg, 0.0 rpg
2 - Hetta Saatman - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg
10 - Brianne Borcky - 6-0 - Jr. - F - 0.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg
13 - Erin Sweeney - 5-10 - So. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Mallon (Saint Joseph's, 1993)
Second Season at Drexel (17-10); Second Season Overall (17-10)
Scouting The Drexel Dragons
• Drexel heads to San Diego with a 3-1 record after a 65-60 win at Maryland Eastern Shore (Nov. 20). UMES was 10-21 two seasons ago and did not play at all in 2020-21 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Hawks are 2-2 early in 2021-22 but dropped an 84-49 decision at Saint Joseph's to open the season. Drexel defeated Saint Joseph's 63-55 at home (Nov. 12).
• Saint Joseph's which is a crosstown rival of the Dragons, is also the alma mater of Drexel head coach Amy Mallon, who has been a fixture in Philadelphia basketball for decades. Mallon, who is in her second season as Drexel's head coach, was an honorable-mention All-American and the Big 5 Player of the Year at St. Joe's in 1992-93. In 1994-95, she served as the head coach at NCAA Division III Rosemont College, before becoming an assistant at Villanova (1995-96) and Saint Joseph's (1996-97). She then served as the head coach and assistant athletic director at The Episcopal Academy (1997-2004). She has been sitting on the bench at Drexel since 2004, first as an assistant (2004-06) before being promoted to associate head coach (2006-20).
• In 2020-21, Mallon took over a Drexel program that had captured a share of the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title with a 23-7 overall record and a 16-2 CAA mark in 2019-20. The CAA and NCAA tournaments were canceled by COVID, and Mallon took the reins of the program.
• Last season, Mallon led the Dragons to a 14-9 record that included a Colonial tournament title with a championship game win over Delaware. Drexel advanced to the NCAA Tournament, dropping a 67-53 decision to Georgia in the opening round in San Antonio.
• Although it was Drexel's first NCAA appearance since 2009, the Dragons have been a postseason fixture in the WNIT and a regular in the CAA Championship Game. In fact, Drexel has advanced to the Colonial title game six times since 2011-12, losing five straight before breaking through last season. Drexel produced four straight 22-plus win seasons before the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season ended that streak.
• The 2021-22 Drexel team returns its top five players from last year's NCAA Tournament team, led by Hannah Nihill. The 5-3 fifth-year guard was the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-CAA and All-Tournament selection. She led the Dragons in scoring (16.2 ppg), assists (3.7 apg) and steals (2.8 spg) while ranking third on the team with 3.7 rebounds per game. Nihill was Drexel's top three-point shooter, connecting on 46-of-125 (.368) of her long range attempts.
• This season, Nihill is averaging 12.0 points and a team-best 5.5 assists. She also leads Drexel with three three-pointers (3-11). She scored her 1,000th career point in the win over UMES Saturday.
• Drexel's five starters are all averaging better than 31 minutes per game early in the season, including returning starters Keishana Washington (37.3 mpg), Mariah Leonard (37.5 mpg) and Kate Connolly (31.3 mpg).
• Washington, a 5-7 senior guard, is averaging 11.5 points, 4.3 assists and a team-best 1.8 steals. She has also hit a trio of three-pointers, but is just 3-for-18 from long range. Washington ranked second among the Dragons behind only Nihill in scoring (14.6 ppg), assists (2.5 apg), steals (1.1 spg) and three-pointers (36-115) last season. Washington was the CAA Tournament MVP after erupting for 35 points in a semifinal win over James Madison and 30 points in the championship game against Delaware.
• Leonard, a 5-10 graduate student, is averaging 11.0 points and 9.0 rebounds early this season while hitting 58.8 percent (20-34) of her field goal attempts. Last season, Leonard averaged 8.4 points and a team-best 6.5 boards per game.
• Connolly, a 6-1 senior forward, has pitched in 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds early this season, while adding 2.8 assists. She averaged 7.2 points and led the Dragons with 18 blocks last season.
• Maura Hendrixson (6.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) was a fixture in Drexel's starting five last year, but the Dragons have replaced her with first-team All-Patriot League graduate student Tessa Brugler. The former Bucknell star is averaging team bests of 16.0 points and 9.8 rebounds through four games, while hitting 59 percent (23-39) of her shots from the field, including a three-pointer. The 6-1 forward, who has notched double-doubles in three of her first four games in a Drexel uniform, also owns 10 blocked shots, including six in the win over La Salle. Brugler averaged 13.2 points and 10.0 rebounds as a senior at Bucknell in 2020-21 to earn spots on the Patriot League All-Defensive Team and all-tournament team.
• Hetta Saatman (1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg) and Brianne Borky (0.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg) are the only other Dragons who have played in all four games this season. Tori Hyduke (5.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg) has been the most productive bench player but has appeared in just two games, while Jasmine Valentine (1.3 ppg) has made three appearances. Erin Sweeney has played in just one game.
• As a team, Drexel has averaged 62.3 points while allowing 58 points per game. The Dragons own a plus-2.8 rebound margin (33.8-31.0 rpg) and a plus-2.0 turnover margin. They have hit just 22.6 percent (12-53) of their threes early this season, after hitting 30.7 percent (137-446) for an average of 6.0 threes per game last season.
Nebraska vs. Drexel Series History
• Friday's game will be the first-ever meeting between Nebraska and Drexel in women's basketball.
• Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against the 10 current members of the Colonial Athletic Association, including 2-0 vs. James Madison and 1-0 against Northeastern. The Huskers have never faced Charleston, Delaware, Drexel, Elon, Hofstra, Towson, UNC Wilmington or William & Mary.
• Friday's meeting with the Dragons will be the first between the Huskers and a current member of the Colonial since an 87-63 victory over James Madison on Dec. 28, 1992, which came at the La Salle Invitational in Philadelphia. In 1990-91, the Big Red played host to JMU in the second game of the season at the Nebraska Invitational at the Devaney Center. The Huskers rolled to a 68-44 win (Nov. 24, 1990). In 1989-90, Nebraska battled to a 70-56 win over Northeastern at the Central Michigan Invite (Dec. 2, 1989).
Nebraska Numbers to Watch
• Through five games, Nebraska was in unchartered territory as a program in the national statistical rankings. Through games Nov. 21, the Huskers led the nation in scoring (95.6 ppg), scoring margin (45.6 ppg), defensive rebounds per game (36.4 rpg), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.90), assists (112), and free throw attempts (132).
• Nebraska also ranked second nationally in total rebounds (252), assists per game (22.4 apg) and free throws made (92), while ranking among the top-10 teams in the nation in field goal percentage defense (6th, .285), blocked shots (8th, 6.2 bpg), three-point field goal percentage (8th, .438), field goal percentage (9th, .507) and three-point field goals made (10th, 46).
• In the Big Ten (through games Nov. 21), Nebraska led the conference in scoring (95.6 ppg), scoring margin (45.6 ppg), rebounding (50.4 rpg), rebound margin (16.4 rpg), defensive rebounds (36.4 rpg), assists per game (22.4 apg), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.90), three-point field goal percentage (.438) and field goal percentage defense (.285).
• The only time in the last 25 years that Nebraska has averaged more than 75 points per game on a season came in 2009-10 (77.4 ppg). That Husker team went unbeaten in the regular season, won the Big 12 regular-season title and advanced to Nebraska's first NCAA Sweet Sixteen as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
• Point guard Jaz Shelley has led Nebraska in rebounding in four consecutive games and owns 43 total rebounds in 115 minutes on the season. As a freshman at Oregon in 2019-20, the 5-9 Shelley grabbed 33 rebounds over 33 games the entire season (584 minutes). In 55 career games with 12 starts at Oregon, Shelley totaled 70 rebounds in 971 minutes.
• Jaz Shelley leads Nebraska with eight blocked shots through five games, surpassing her two-year total at Oregon (6) in 55 games with 12 starts.
• Nebraska carries a collective 112-to-59 (1.90-to-1) assist-to-turnover ratio through five games and four Huskers are putting up extraordinary numbers early in the season. Sam Haiby leads the Huskers with a 19-to-3 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Jaz Shelley owns a 27-to-5 ratio. True freshman Allison Weidner has performed at a similar level with a 21-to-4 ratio, while Ruby Porter carries a 9-to-2 ratio. Haiby (1st, 6.3), Shelley (2nd, 5.4) and Weidner (3rd, 5.3) rank No. 1-2-3 in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover, while Porter (4.5) would rank fifth but is just shy of the 2.0 assists per game requirement.
• Nebraska heads to San Diego with a five-game winning streak. The Huskers have not opened a season 6-0 since 2014-15, when the Big Red started 7-0.
• The Huskers have not had a six-game winning streak since 2019-20, when they reeled off six straight victories from Nov. 29 through Dec. 28. That streak started with a holiday tournament win over USC at the South Point Shootout and ended after a home Big Ten win over Iowa.
• Sam Haiby has scored in 88 of 90 games in her Husker career. She has scored at least two points in 53 consecutive games for Nebraska, dating back to being held scoreless by USC at the South Point Shootout on Nov. 29, 2019. The Huskers won that game 67-54. She was also held scoreless in a 70-69 loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 27, 2018.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three in 403 straight games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 282 consecutive games.
• Nebraska enters The Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament with a combined five-game victory margin of 228 points - the largest of any five-game stretch in school history by 50 points.
• The previous greatest combined five-game scoring margin in school history came in 1978-79 when the Huskers defeated Missouri Western, Cal State Fullerton, Wichita State, Wayne State and South Dakota State by a combined 178 points in Games 9-13 (Dec. 8-30, 1978). That stretch included three non-Division I opponents (Missouri Western, Wayne State, South Dakota State).
• The greatest six-game scoring margin in school history came with a combined 189-point edge in Games 3-8 (Dec. 5-28) for Nebraska's 1992-93 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and featured Wade Trophy winner Karen Jennings. That six-game stretch included wins over Northwestern, Illinois, Howard, Eastern Washington, Creighton and James Madison.