There wasn’t a whole lot of fun at the start of Big Ten Conference season for the Nebraska women’s basketball team, with the Huskers losing each of their first three games after a nonconference season that showed some promise for a young team.
The Huskers finally got their first conference win Sunday, beating Illinois 73-57.
“Especially after an 0-3 start in the Big Ten, we all came to practice this week and we were just kind of tired of losing,” Nebraska freshman Jessica Shepard said. “We know that we have to fix things if want to compete, and every game is going to be hard. To get that first win felt pretty good.”
Nebraska’s starts to league play included games against two top-15 teams in Northwestern and Maryland.
Now the Huskers should enter a little more manageable stretch of games against Penn State, Rutgers, Purdue and Michigan. The Huskers travel to play the Nittany Lions (6-9, 1-3) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in State College, Pennsylvania.
Nebraska (10-5, 1-3) lost its Big Ten opener by six points to Iowa. Nebraska coach Connie Yori said if the Huskers would have played as well as they did against Illinois, they probably would have beaten Iowa, and been 2-2 in the league now.
Yori says the Huskers need to think only about the next game while trying to work back into the top half of the league.
“You can’t look back, you just have to keep moving forward,” Yori said.
Against the Illini, Yori, said, the Huskers looked like a confident team again.
“Losing streaks can go either way,” Yori said. “You can start doubting yourself, or you can say, ‘We really need to do the right things, and play with emotion, and play hard for each other,’ and that’s the way we played.”
Yori said the Huskers need to play “Nebraska basketball.”
“The three things we say to our players all the time (is) if you play hard, and you play smart, and you play together, it’s a lot of fun. And if one of those ingredients are missing, generally it’s not going to be very much fun,” Yori said. “Fun isn’t just about winning; it’s about playing the right way. We went a couple games where we just didn’t play the right way, and to me those are the ingredients that mean that you’re playing the right way, and that’s something we write on the board before every game: play hard, play smart, play together and have fun.”
The start of the Big Ten season was tough, senior Rachel Theriot said, but she’s still very excited about what this team can do this season. Nebraska is tied for 10th place in the league.
“Every game is hard,” Theriot said. “It’s just coming back and forgetting about what happened and learning from it. No matter what happens, everything is a learning thing, and you grow from it.”