The college basketball games have started counting now, and Natalie Romeo had a memorable first game in her sophomore season.

Romeo scored a career-high 30 points with six three-pointers to lead the Nebraska women to a 96-46 win against Arkansas Pine Bluff on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Jessica Shepard added 24 points and 13 rebounds in her first college game. She’s the only freshman in NU history with a double-double in her first game.

Romeo was 6-of-9 on three-pointers. It’s the first 30-point effort in a season opener in school history. Romeo played in one of the Huskers’ two exhibition games, and missed all three of her three-point attempts in that game.

But last year, she tied the school record with seven three-pointers in a game.

“It’s good to see her get back on track,” NU coach Connie Yori said.

Rachel Theriot had 10 points with four assists for the Huskers.

Nebraska started the second quarter with a 17-2 run, which included two three-pointers by Romeo, to take a 36-14 lead.

The Huskers mostly scored inside and on drives to the basket while getting out to a 46-26 first-half lead.

Then Romeo went off. She was 4-of-5 on three-pointers in the second half before heading to the bench with about five minutes to play.

“Just even watching Nat last year, she’s a phenomenal shooter, and especially when we have a post game inside that can help open up the outside,” Shepard said. “And then you have Rachel and all the other guards who can drive. They’re going to have to pick what they want to guard, and it’s not a surprise at all that Nat had six threes today. She’s in the gym constantly working on her threes, so it pays off.”

Romeo missed practice time during the week because of illness. She’s excited about some of the new things Nebraska can do on offense.

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“I love playing with everyone; obviously Jessica,” Romeo said. “I think we are going to look more for our post game, which is awesome.”

Maddie Simon started in Romeo’s place, and finished with six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.

For an opener, Yori was very pleased. The Huskers shot 52 percent from the field, and having 21 assists and just six turnovers was outstanding, she said.

Eight Huskers had at least five points apiece. NU's largest lead — 53 points — came with three minutes left.

“Obviously, we’re going to continue to see better and better competition, but I thought we played within ourselves,” Yori said. “We were unselfish and played really good team basketball. I thought we did make some strides defensively, (but) we've still got a long ways to go there.”

Shepard was overpowering near the basket at times, but also showed some other parts to her game. Early in the third quarter, Shepard got a steal and sent a long pass to Romeo, who then made a layup.

Right after that, Shepard got a steal near half-court and made a layup.

“I haven’t done that since I came back from my knee injury, so it was like, ‘I can do this still.’ It was just a good feeling,” Shepard said.

Shepard had three assists and three steals.

“Especially when I was growing up, I played guard, mainly, so that’s what I like to do, actually,” Shepard said. “Sometimes it’s just easier to go post up, but I like to take a dribble and be able to throw it ahead to a guard and lead them for a layup.”

Forward Niya Head led Arkansas Pine Bluff with 16 points.

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


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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