Huskers Shoot for Senior Day Sweep of Spartans
The Nebraska women's basketball team takes aim at an important series sweep when the Huskers battle Michigan State on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln. Tip-off on Senior Day between the Huskers (11-10, 9-9 Big Ten) and the Spartans (12-7, 7-7 Big Ten) is set for 1 p.m. (CT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
A live video stream will be provided to BTN Plus subscribers, while fans can also follow Nebraska with the Husker Sports Network call of Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch across the radio network stations, the Huskers App and Huskers.com.
Nebraska will honor center and graduate student Kate Cain on Senior Day, along with former Husker guard/forward Taylor Kissinger, who is a current student assistant for the Big Red. Graduate manager Kristina Bayton and student managers Trevor Bogle and Christian Eisenhauer will also be honored for their contributions to the program during Saturday's postgame ceremony.
Nebraska shoots for its ninth home win of the season at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Last time in Lincoln, the Huskers ran to an 87-72 victory over Penn State (Feb. 21), but the Big Red suffered a 73-63 setback at Minnesota on Wednesday.
Sophomore Isabelle Bourne, who was named the College Sports Madness National Player of the Week (Feb. 22), led the Huskers with a career-high 22 points while adding 11 rebounds against Penn State. It followed a 21-point, career-high 17-rebound effort in a win at No. 24 Northwestern (Feb. 17). Bourne, who is averaging 13.9 points and a team-best 8.2 rebounds, was also the Big Ten Player of the Week (Feb. 22).
Bourne had 18 points and seven rebounds in Nebraska's 68-64 win at No. 23 Michigan State (Jan. 10), before injuring her ankle in the closing seconds. She missed Nebraska's next four games.
First-team All-Big Ten contender Sam Haiby led Nebraska with 22 points and six assists at Minnesota. It was her eighth 20-point effort of the season. The 5-9 guard from Moorhead, Minn., had 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in the win at Michigan State (Jan. 10). Haiby is the only player in the Big Ten to rank among the top 12 in the conference in scoring (17.1 ppg, 12th), rebounding (6.9 rpg, 12th) and assists (4.5 apg, 9th).
Nebraska's career blocked shot leader Kate Cain became just the 10th player in Husker history to achieve the combined milestones of 1,000 points and 750 rebounds. Cain, who will be honored in Saturday's post-game Senior Day ceremony, owns 1,035 points, 750 rebounds and 344 career blocks. The 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., ranks No. 6 in Big Ten history and No. 2 among active NCAA Division I players. Cain was one of 15 players on the Naismith National Defensive Player-of-the-Year Watch List and was a three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate.
Scouting the Michigan State Spartans
• Michigan State carries a 12-7 overall record that includes a 7-7 Big Ten mark to Lincoln, hoping to salvage a season series split with the Huskers. Nebraska escaped from East Lansing with a 68-64 victory over the then-No. 23 Spartans on Jan. 10.
• The Spartans were off to one of the best starts in school history, carrying an 8-1 record into the first meeting with the Huskers with their lone loss coming to Maryland on Jan. 7. However, after opening Big Ten play 3-0, the Spartans have gone just 4-7 in the league. MSU also had games at Ohio State, to Indiana, to Michigan and at Illinois postponed by COVID-19 protocols.
• The Spartans are 0-6 against AP top-25 foes and three of the games they missed were also set to come against top-25 opponents.
• Junior Nia Clouden leads Michigan State as one of the Big Ten's top scorers. A second-team All-Big Ten choice in 2019-20, Clouden is averaging 18.6 points per game. She scored double figures in each of MSU's first 17 games before being held to six points on 3-of-13 shooting in a win over Purdue (Feb. 21). She managed eight points on 1-of-14 shooting in Wednesday's loss to Rutgers. Those two low-scoring efforts followed a career-high 34 points in a loss at Michigan (Feb. 16).
• Clouden, who had 14 points in the first meeting with Nebraska, also leads Michigan State with 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She is the only Spartan to start all 19 games.
• Sophomore guard Alyza Winston (10.6 ppg) and junior forward Alisia Smith (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) join Clouden in averaging double figures. Winston is MSU's top three-point threat with 33 makes (.375). Smith, a Penn State transfer who has played in 13 games with nine starts, had her first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Purdue (Feb. 21). She had just three points and three boards off the bench against Nebraska but has started every game since that loss.
• Tory Ozment started each of MSU's first 10 games, including 11 points and four assists in the loss to Nebraska. Ozment was affected by MSU's COVID pause and did not return to action until a loss at Indiana (Jan. 31) when she played just 12 minutes off the bench. She played no more than 21 minutes and scored no more than seven points until scoring 10 in 29 minutes as a starter in the loss to Rutgers. The 6-1 wing is averaging 6.9 points and 3.1 boards on the season.
• Ozment started in place of 6-2 sophomore Julia Ayrault against Rutgers. Ayrault, who is averaging 9.1 points and 4.9 rebounds, missed her first game of the year against Rutgers after enter the concussion protocol. Ayrault had seven points in 10 minutes in a start in the fist meeting with Nebraska.
• Michigan State's most experienced player, redshirt senior Mardrekia Cook, has been out of action with a knee injury since the loss to Michigan (Feb. 16). Cook started MSU's first five games this season.
• Sophomore Moira Joiner (5.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg) has started eight times, including five of the last six games. She did not start in the first meeting with the Huskers and did not start in the loss to Rutgers.
• Junior transfer Janai Crooms from Ohio State has started eight of the past nine games for the Spartans, including the loss to Rutgers. The 5-10 guard is averaging 5.1 points and 3.3 boards. She had seven points and six boards in 18 minutes off the bench in the first meeting with Nebraska.
• Sophomore Taiyier Parks (7.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) has been a regular contributor throughout the season, while freshman Kendall Bostic (4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg) has played in 18 games. Parks had seven points and seven rebounds in a start against Nebraska, and produced her sixth double-figure scoring effort of the season with 12 points and five boards against Rutgers.
• As a team, Michigan State is averaging 76.1 points - down six points per game from the first meeting with the Huskers. MSU is allowing 68.6 points per contest. The Spartans are hitting 45.4 percent of their shots, including 32.4 percent of their threes, but just 68.1 percent of their free throws.
Nebraska vs. Michigan State Series History
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Michigan State 9-4 with all 13 meetings as Big Ten foes. The Huskers fought to a 68-64 win over the then-No. 23 Spartans in East Lansing on Jan. 10.
• Isabelle Bourne led all players in the first meeting with 18 points, despite suffering an ankle injury in the closing seconds. Sam Haiby added a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Bella Cravens pitched in nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Ruby Porter had a breakout game with nine points on three three-pointers.
• Nia Clouden led three Spartans in double figures with 14 points before fouling out late in the game. Tory Ozment added 11 points and Alyza Winston pitched in 10.
• Nebraska went 6-for-14 from three-point range while the Spartans went just 5-for-25. The Huskers led 39-30 at the half, but Michigan State took a 48-47 lead to the fourth quarter.
• The Huskers are 5-0 against Michigan State in Lincoln, including an 82-71 win over MSU on Feb. 17, 2019, at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskers are 3-4 against Michigan State all-time in East Lansing.
• Three of Nebraska's five home wins have been decided by seven points or less.
• Five of Nebraska's nine wins have been by 10 points or less, while NU's most lopsided win in the series came with an 86-58 victory over the Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on March 8, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
• Michigan State's first three series wins in East Lansing were all by double digits, including a 73-53 victory in the first-ever meeting on Feb. 23, 2012. Two years later, the Spartans worked their way to a 70-57 win on Jan. 9, 2014, before rolling to a 93-73 victory over the Huskers on Jan. 7, 2017.
Cain Becomes 10th Husker with 1,000 Points, 750 Boards
• Kate Cain became just the 10th player in Nebraska history to achieve the combined career marks of 1,000 points and 750 rebounds when she grabbed her final board at Minnesota on Wednesday.
• The 34th member of Nebraska's 1,000-point club, Cain joined that prestigious club with her first bucket at Northwestern (Feb. 17). Cain finished the night with a career-high 22 points on a perfect shooting effort (7-7 FG, 8-8 FT) to lead the Huskers to victory.
• She heads into Senior Day with 1,035 career points tied with Alexa Johnson at No. 32 (1,035, 2001-04), and one point away from Stacy Imming at No. 31 (1,036, 1984-87) on the NU career scoring list. She needs 13 points to catch Cathy Owen at No. 30 (1,048, 1982-85). Cain owns three 20-point efforts in the last 11 games, after managing just one 20-point effort in her first 102 games.
• Nebraska's career blocked shot record holder with 344 - she owns 106 more blocks than previous record holder Janet Smith (238, 1979-82). Cain is the only Husker in history with 1,000 points, 750 rebounds and 250 blocked shots.
• Cain is averaging 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and a Big Ten-best 3.0 blocks this season. The 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., has started 112 straight games. She was the Big Ten Player of the Week (Jan. 18) after producing 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks in a win over No. 15 Ohio State.
• As a junior, Cain earned her second appearance on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team by notching a school-record 101 blocked shots while ranking third in the NCAA in blocks per game. She added 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and 68.3 percent from the free throw line on her way to earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades.
• Cain led the Big Ten in both blocks (3.6 bpg) and defensive rebounds (6.7 drpg) in conference play, while moving into the Big Ten's all-time top-10 list.
• Cain claimed her first spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team as a freshman in 2017-18 when she posted a then-school record with 100 blocks while averaging 9.9 points and 7.0 rebounds to help the Huskers to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
• She was also a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team after being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times. Along the way, she recorded the first points-rebounds-blocks triple-double in NU history with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks in a win over Florida Atlantic (Dec. 19, 2017).
• A three-time Lisa Leslie Award candidate, Cain has been projected as a middle second-round pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft.
• A CoSIDA Academic All-America candidate, Cain is a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten choice who earned her bachelor's degree as a management major in May of 2020, just three years into her Nebraska career.