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Michigan vs. Nebraska, 12.28

Nebraska guard Hannah Whitish (left) looks to pass during the Huskers' Big Ten conference opener against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Dec. 28.

Hannah Whitish, the junior guard on the Nebraska women’s basketball team, is playing with a level of confidence that has her scoring more like she did last season when she earned second-team all-conference honors.

After some stretches of the season where Whitish wasn’t shooting it very well, she now has scored in double figures in eight of the past 10 games for the Huskers. She made 14 threes in three games combined.

Whitish is confidently driving inside for baskets and shooting threes. In Nebraska’s last game, an 82-71 win against then-No. 24 Michigan State, Whitish scored 16 points, including shooting 5-of-6 on two-point field goals and 2-for-4 on three-pointers.

Whitish is feeling more confident now.

“(I’m) just kind of letting go and having fun and trying not to get in my head,” Whitish said. “My teammates do a great job of if I make a mistake, I’m not down on myself, and just moving on.”

Whitish had one of the best games of her career recently when she scored 28 points, made six three-pointers and had 12 assists in an 84-64 win against Purdue.

Nebraska coach Amy Williams likes that Whitish has been playing more aggressively.

“She went through some tough stretches this season, but I think she started to get more aggressive-minded offensively and finding ways to look for her shot and not necessarily defer to the next (player) or share the ball or always thinking pass first, but is thinking more aggressively,” Williams said. “And I think that’s showed here since late January.”

Nebraska (12-14, 7-8 Big Ten) is down to its final three regular-season games, starting with Thursday’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois.

Nebraska is tied for ninth place in the Big Ten standings and is trying to maintain or improve its position in the standings in order to get a one-game bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

If Nebraska doesn’t win the Big Ten Tournament, it probably won’t make the NCAA Tournament, which was the goal after making it that far last season.

Now, Williams said, the Huskers need to have a very narrow focus.

“Right now, it’s time for us to shift to what can we do right here today to win the day and just focus on those today goals for this group, I think, is the best approach,” Williams said.

Nebraska hasn’t been very good in the numerous really close games it’s been in this season, and has a 3-9 record in games decided by six points or fewer.

Nebraska’s problems on offense and defense in the final minutes of games is an area where NU playing six freshmen and sophomores a lot has probably been a factor, but Williams said they shouldn’t use that as an excuse.

“We don’t really want to get into any type of excuses,” Williams said. “I think anytime you start looking for reasons to try and explain things, it’s going to always come off as excuses. For us, all we try to do is to really self-evaluate and identify areas where we can continue to improve, and then go to work trying to improve them. And that’s all we’re trying to do at this point.”

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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