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Nebraska Women's Basketball Open Practice, 10.23.18

Nebraska women's basketball player Leigha Brown shoots free throws on Tuesday during an open practice at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Leigha Brown has led or tied for the team lead in scoring for the Nebraska women’s basketball team four times this season, with the Huskers winning three of those games.

Three games into the Big Ten Conference season, Brown leads all conference freshmen in scoring at 16.7 points per game.

She’s had career highs in scoring the last two games, with 19 points in a victory at Ohio State, and 20 points in a loss at Iowa.

But that isn't a surprise to Nebraska coach Amy Williams. Ever since Brown signed with NU, Nebraska thought it got a recruiting steal, since Brown didn't get much interest from the top teams in the country.

“I think since Christmas break, she’s been a lot more confident and consistent with her production, which we love to see, but honestly, it’s not something that is a huge surprise for us or our staff,” Williams said. “We expected that player to be able to come in here and make an impact, and it’s good to see her doing that.”

Monday, Brown was named the Big Ten freshman of the week after averaging 19.5 points, two rebounds, two assists and 1.5 steals in 18.0 minutes per game off the bench in the two games last week.

Brown is one of several freshmen making big contributions for the Huskers this season.

Tuesday, Nebraska plays one of its biggest home games of the season, against ninth-ranked Maryland at 7 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Maryland (13-1, 2-1 Big Ten) has been the team the rest of the Big Ten has been chasing since it joined the league five years ago, but the Terrapins have already been upset this season by unranked Rutgers.

Maryland handed Nebraska three of its 11 losses last season, but NU played the Terrapins close in two of those games.

With her recent run of high-scoring games, Brown has moved up to rank second in scoring for the Huskers at 10.4 points per game.

Brown still hasn’t started a game, but that’s OK with her.

“I just want to come in and contribute and just do everything I can to benefit the team and win,” she said.

Brown is from Auburn, Indiana, and said college basketball has been a big adjustment.

“Obviously, the talent level, I never really played against girls with this talent,” Brown said. “Definitely, the pace is a huge thing, and the physicality is pretty obvious.”

Brown leads Nebraska with 41 made free throws, with just 10 misses. She’s also hit 16 three-pointers and is shooting 44 percent from the field.

Her favorite way to score is on pull-up jump shots, she said.

“I just like rising over defenders; creating different things off the dribble,” Brown said.

Nebraska still has seven players averaging at least 8 points, and Brown said she’s benefiting from the Huskers having scoring balance.

“Obviously, we have a lot of weapons, so they can’t really just guard one person or focus on one person,” Brown said. “So I think that really open things up for not only me, but everyone else.”

She's averaging double figures in points despite ranking seventh in minutes played (17.6 per game). It helps that she’s scoring on free throws, when the clock is stopped.

“I think the biggest thing she’s doing well for our team is finding ways to get herself to the free-throw line, and being aggressive with her play and attacking the basket and getting us to the foul line,” Williams said. “That has sparked us in a lot of games in a lot of areas where we’ve needed some scoring.”

Williams is also excited about the improvements Brown has made on defense, which also gives her a chance to play more.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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Sports reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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