Huskers second-half shooting foils Mavericks’ upset bid

Huskers second-half shooting foils Mavericks’ upset bid
Photo Courtesy: World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — The UNO women’s basketball team blitzed Nebraska on Tuesday night with a double-digit lead after one quarter, frustrating NU’s best player and silencing Pinnacle Bank Arena, save for a section of Maverick fans who joined the team.

“We were a little shell-shocked,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said.

Said UNO guard Mikaela Shaw: “That first quarter was amazing. We felt good about that first punch.”

The Huskers got off the ropes and rebuffed the Mavericks’ upset bid, winning 66-58.

Little separated the Big Ten and Summit League teams save for one thing — 3-point shooting — and nothing illustrated it better than the game’s defining plays, with UNO leading 41-36 late in the third quarter.

The Mavericks’ best long-range shooter, Remy Davenport, watched a 3-pointer from the top of the key rattle in and out with 2:41 left.

Nine seconds later, Husker center Jessica Shepard — smothered in the post all night by the Mavericks’ collapsing defense — hit a 3-pointer from the same spot on the other end of floor. That triggered a 9-0 run to end the quarter. Nebraska (3-1) had trailed for nearly three quarters, and it reversed the tide just like that.

UNO (1-3) hurt itself with a few rushed possessions.

“We settled a little too early in the shot clock for some outside shots,” Mavericks coach Brittany Lange said. “But they were still open. We had some kind of rattle in and out.”

After taking a 45-41 lead into the fourth quarter, Nebraska kept UNO at bay with four timely 3-pointers. Shepard made one, and was joined by one each from freshmen Nicea Eliely, Hannah Whitish and Rylie Cascio Jensen. Whitish’s 3-pointer extended NU’s lead from 47-45 to 50-45. The Mavericks never got closer than three points after that.

Whitish, a guard from Barneveld, Wisconsin, finished with 10 points and five assists.

“Every time she shoots the ball, I have a feeling it’s going in,” Williams said. “She just looks good doing it. She’s comfortable doing it.”

For the game, Nebraska hit 12 of 31 3-pointers. A team that used to be judicious from long range launches them with near impunity this season as defenses sag on Shepard and senior center Allie Havers. Williams isn’t surprised by opposing defenses; she expects them to deny passes to the post. NU thus needs to hit the 3s. The Huskers hit seven in the second half. They were enough.

Shaw said UNO gave Nebraska too much open space on some of the 3s.

“The game plan was ‘let ’em shoot ’em,’ but they were pretty wide open,” Shaw said. “Anyone at this level — especially at this university — will be able to knock them down.”

UNO hit just 7 of 26 from long range. Davenport made 1 of 7. The Mavericks got 19 from Shaw and 18 from Michaela Dapprich — whose quick post moves frustrated the much-taller Shepard and Havers — but their teammates scored just 21 points combined.

“We got shots,” Lange said. “We didn’t make ’em.”

At least not after the first quarter.

In the opening 10 minutes, UNO raced out to a 21-9 lead, and most of the 4,419 fans sat on their hands. Shepard picked up two quick fouls. Shaw scored nine points, including the first five of the game. Nebraska committed seven turnovers. The Huskers were a mess.

“We kind of let them rush us,” said Havers, who had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Lange said her Mavs “came out with a good energy and a good start, and I liked that our girls expected to do that rather than being surprised.”

Nebraska answered with a 10-0 run to start the second quarter, trimming UNO’s lead to two. The Mavericks led 31-28 at halftime, extending it to 41-36 when Dapprich hit an elbow jumper with 3:38 left.

From there, the Huskers outscored UNO 30-17. Davenport saw her 3 rattle in and out. Shepard — suddenly NU’s most consistent 3-point shooter — turned the crank on the vise.

How did Williams and her staff add the long jumper to Shepard’s game?

“We didn’t do that,” Williams said. “Jessica is a capable 3-point shooter. It’s just about her getting some repetition and confidence and just knowing where those shots are going to come from.”

The Huskers now head to Las Vegas for the South Point Shootout.

UNO finally gets a home game after four on the road to start the season. Lange said her team has the Summit League’s toughest nonconference schedule. The Mavericks host Indiana State at 2 p.m. Friday and Wofford at noon Sunday. December opponents include Kansas State and Creighton.

The Mavs also got an impromptu player photo on the Pinnacle Bank Arena floor after the game. Shaw was surrounded by family and friends. She and her teammates nearly pulled off one of the biggest wins in school history.

“I’m proud of how my whole team played,” Shaw said. “We came out and we were winning the whole time. It’s kind of a bummer that we couldn’t come away with the win.”

UNO (1-3)………………..21 10 10 17—58

At Nebraska (3-1)….. 9 19 17 21—66

UNO: Shaw 6-16 6-6 19, Mi. Dapprich 8-18 0-0 18, Bridgeman 2-4 1-1 5, Vaccher 2-5 0-0 4, Davenport 1-8 0-0 3, Lujan 1-1 0-0 3, Preston 1-4 0-0 3, Vidal 1-2 0-0 3, Brecht 0-2 0-0 0, Mo. Dapprich 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 22-63 7-7 58.

NU: Shepard 6-12 3-5 17, Whitish 2-7 4-6 10, Eliely 3-10 1-4 9, Havers 3-5 3-4 9, Ramacieri 3-4 0-0 9, Cascio Jensen 2-4 0-0 6, Cincore 1-7 3-4 6, Mitchell 0-1 0-0 0, Simon 0-5 0-0 0, Washington 0-1 0-0 0, Wood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 14-23 66.

3-point goals: NU 12-31 (Ramacieri 3-4, Cascio Jensen 2-4, Eliely 2-6, Shepard 2-4, Whitish 2-5, Cincore 1-4, Havers 0-1, Mitchell 0-1, Simon 0-2), UNO 7-26 (Mi. Dapprich 2-6, Davenport 1-7, Lujan 1-1, Preston 1-4, Shaw 1-4, Vidal 1-1, Brecht 0-1, Mo. Dapprich 0-2). Rebounds: NU 43 (Havers 11), UNO 38 (Mo. Dapprich 8). Assists: NU 15 (Whitish 5), UNO 12 (Shaw 4). Total fouls: NU 15, UNO 16. Fouled out: Shepard. A: 4,419.

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