What Nebraska women’s basketball coach Amy Williams described as a challenging few days ended with a milestone win for the Huskers.
With a 93-70 victory against Minnesota on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Nebraska reached the 20-win mark at 20-7. The Huskers got there after a 12-game winning streak to start the season, along with a couple of massive upsets of Michigan and Indiana during Big Ten play.
Freshman guard Allison Weidner scored 23 points and Jaz Shelley had a career-high 12 assists to help lead the Huskers.
It was the highest-scoring game for Nebraska in conference play. The Huskers improved to 14-1 at home with just one more home game to go.
Nebraska led by seven points at halftime, and then dominated the Gophers 30-13 in the third quarter to turn the game into a rout.
“I thought we played incredibly well,” Williams said.
It's the second 20-win season in Williams’ six seasons as Nebraska coach, but the first time it’s happened with at least three weeks left in the season.
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Nebraska shot 10-for-21 on threes, led by Weidner making all three of her attempts. Weidner blew past her previous season-high of 14 points.
Isabelle Bourne added 17 points for the Huskers, and Alexis Markowski had 15 points and nine rebounds.
This was the first game since Saturday’s news that associate head coach Chuck Love and starting guard Ashley Scoggin are no longer with the team.
Love was suspended with pay for a "personnel matter" and isn’t expected back. Scoggin was removed from the roster.
But it was the second time Love and Scoggin weren’t with the team for a game. They also weren’t with the team during a loss at Penn State on Thursday.
Those changes came about quickly. On Tuesday, Love filled in for Williams on the women’s basketball radio show, and by Thursday evening he wasn’t coaching.
During her normal news conference after the game, Williams was polite with reporters and responded to each question over a period of about 10 minutes, but provided few added details.
She wouldn’t say who made the decision that Scoggin is no longer on the team.
“That’s just a question that right now I’m not answering,” Williams said. “I think it’s something that there is lots of people that have been involved, and we’re just going to keep it at that.”
She also wasn’t definitive when asked if she feels comfortable in the process that led to Scoggin being removed from the team.
“All of those things are questions that at this time I can’t really answer,” Williams said. “We’re going to keep our focus on the team that we have moving forward.”
She said Scoggin is still being supported by the NU Athletic Department, which should mean she can remain on scholarship and receive other resources provided to athletes.
Williams is hopeful that this won’t hurt the program going forward, including in recruiting.
“I think our program is going to keep moving forward and we have a lot of positive things to be proud of as a group and we’re going to continue to build for the future,” she said.
Nebraska’s players have had a lot to process over the past four days while also playing two games.
“Coach (Williams) always says her favorite song (is), 'Can You Stand the Rain,' and this is definitely a storm for us,” Nebraska junior Sam Haiby said. “So I think it’s just really important for us to stay together. We’ve talked as a team and we’ve met with the players.”
To outsiders it appeared that team chemistry is strong this season, and Williams agreed with that.
What will Williams do to try and maintain that chemistry after division on the team?
“We’re going to continue to just foster the relationships that have been strong,” she said.
During a big third quarter Sunday, Markowski went to work inside for a couple of baskets. Another freshman, Kendall Moriarty, scored five points in the third quarter. Shelley found Moriarty with a great pass for an open three-pointer in the corner that Moriarty drained.
Of Nebraska’s 30 points in the third quarter, 18 were scored by freshman.
Shelley’s 12 assists are tied for ninth-most in a game in program history.
“Twelve assists is huge playing the point guard position when you’re sharing the ball like that,” Haiby said. “We know she’s a great passer.”