Illinois Fighting Illini
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2 p.m.
State Farm Center (Champaign, Illinois)
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Huskers Shoot for First Road Win at Illinois
The Nebraska women’s basketball team takes aim at its first road win of the season when the Huskers battle Illinois on Sunday. Tip-off between the Huskers (5-12, 1-4 Big Ten) and the Fighting Illinois (7-10, 2-2 Big Ten) is set for 2 p.m.
An inexperienced team of Huskers and a group of first-year coaches led by former Nebraska player Amy Williams has been challenged by the toughest schedule in school history through the first 17 games this season. Nebraska’s strength of schedule ranks No. 7 nationally, as 13 of Nebraska’s 17 opponents already have accumulated 11 or more wins this season, led by No. 1 UConn (15-0), No. 3 Maryland (16-1) and No. 15 Virginia Tech (15-1).
Nebraska also carries a six-game winning streak in the series with Illinois, including a four-game winning streak at the State Farm Center in Champaign. Nebraska and Illinois are two of the most inexperienced teams in the Big Ten this season.
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Illinois 10-3, including six consecutive victories.
32 - Jessica Shepard - 6-4 - So. - F
22 - Allie Havers - 6-5 - Sr. - C
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Fr. - G
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Fr. - G
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Jr. - G
Illinois Fighting Illini
35 - Alex Wittinger - 6-1 - So. - F
1 - Brandi Beasley - 5-7 - Fr. - G
13 - Petra Holešínská - 5-9 - Fr. - G
23 - Jaelyne Kirkpatrick - 5-7 - So. - G
25 - Kennedy Cattenhead - 5-10 - Jr. - G
Coach Matt Bollant leads Illinois into Sunday’s game after a 78-58 loss at Iowa.
Like the Huskers, the Fighting Illini (0-6) have yet to find a road win this season. However, Illinois is a solid 7-4 on its home court at the State Farm Center. The Illini enter Sunday’s game with a five-game home winning streak, including a 78-41 win over Rutgers.
Alex Wittinger leads Illinois in scoring (14.6 ppg), rebounding (8.6 rpg) and blocked shots (2.6 bpg). She is also shooting a team-best 50.9 percent from the field. The only other returning Illini starter from last year’s game with the Huskers is Kennedy Cattenhead. The 5-10 guard is averaging 7.9 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Illini .
Brandi Beasley has made a major impact on the Illini lineup. The 5-7 guard ranks second on the team in scoring (11.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg) while leading Illinois in steals and assists.
Illinois is averaging 62.8 points, while allowing 65.2 points per game. The Illini carry a minus-2.4 team rebounding margin, but a plus-0.5 team turnover margin. Illinois has hit 39.1 percent of its shots from the field, including 30.7 percent of its threes, while connecting on 75.8 percent of its free throws. In Big Ten play, Illinois is shooting 36.6 percent from three-point range and 74 percent at the line.
• Jessica Shepard leads the Huskers with averages of 18.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. She produced her 19th career double-double 22 points and 11 rebounds in Nebraska’s win over Rutgers.
• Shepard ranks second among the Huskers in three-point field goals made (19).
• Nebraska senior Allie Havers has competed in 113 consecutive games since the first game of her freshman season in 2013-14. The Huskers own a 70-43 record in those contests.
• Junior Jasmine Cincore owns the longest streak of consecutive starts among the Huskers with 22. Havers has made 20 straight starts, while freshman Nicea Eliely and sophomore Jessica Shepard have each started 17 straight games this season. Hannah Whitish has made five straight starts.
• Nicea Eliely, has started all 17 games and is averaging 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
• Nicea Eliely leads the Huskers in assists (44), steals (29), blocked shots (12) and field goal percentage (.477), while ranking second among the Huskers in points (136) and three-point field goal percentage (.375).
• As a starter in Big Ten play, Hannah Whitish is averaging 10.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
• Hannah Whitish is closing in on joining Nebraska’s top five all-time among freshman three-point shooters. She needs five more threes to match Kiera Hardy’s 30 made threes.