Huskers Open St. Pete Showcase with Lamar Thursday

Photo Credit: NU Athletic Communications Photo Credit: NU Athletic Communications

The Nebraska women’s basketball team heads to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday to compete in the St. Pete Showcase.

The Huskers (3-1) tip-off the tournament by taking on Lamar (3-1) on Thursday, Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m. (CT) at the McArthur Center on the Eckerd College campus. 

Nebraska fans can listen across the Huskers Radio Network, including 107.3 FM in Lincoln and 590 AM in Omaha, the Huskers App and, as Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch team up for their 23rd season together calling the action. Pregame starts at 2 p.m. (CT) on Thanksgiving Day. 

Fans also can follow the game on the live video stream provided by the tournament for subscribers of FloHoops.

Nebraska heads to Florida looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season after taking a 79-74 loss to No. 22 Creighton on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. 

Lisa Leslie Award candidate Alexis Markowski led the Huskers with a season-high 24 points against the Bluejays - her second straight 20-point performance. The two-time All-Big Ten center enters the St. Pete Showcase with team-best averages of 18.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. 

The 6-3 Markowski is one of four Huskers averaging in double figures, including two-time Ann Meyers-Drysdale Award candidate Jaz Shelley, who is averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 assists despite being limited in the past two games by a lower leg injury. Shelley had seven points and five assists but did not start in the loss to Creighton. 

Natalie Potts has her first college season off to an outstanding start. The freshman from O’Fallon, Mo., is averaging 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting better than 70 percent from the field. The two-time Missouri High School Player of the Year was the inaugural Big Ten Freshman of the Week for 2023-24 (Nov. 13). She put up a career-high 16 points against No. 22 Creighton, after scoring 15 in a road win at Wyoming (Nov. 10). 

Darian White, a four-year starter and three-time All-Big Sky performer at Montana State before transferring to Nebraska as a graduate student, rounds out the four Huskers averaging in double figures. The 5-6 point guard is coming off her first Husker double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Creighton. White, who owns 100 double-figure scoring efforts in her college career, is averaging 10.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists through her first four games at Nebraska.

Lamar opens the St. Pete Showcase Wednesday by battling UTEP at noon. The Huskers complete their two-game tournament stay in Florida by facing TCU on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Noon (CT).

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
vs. Lamar Cardinals (3-1, 0-0 Southland)

St. Pete Showcase
Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, 2:30 p.m. (CT)
McArthur Center (Eckerd College), St. Petersburg, Fla.
Live Video: FloHoops
Live Stats:
Live Radio: Huskers Radio Network (2 p.m.)
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln (107.3 FM), Omaha (590 AM),, Huskers App

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
22 - Natalie Potts - 6-2 - Fr. - F/G - 12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
40 - Alexis Markowski - 6-3 - Jr. - C/F - 18.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg
0 - Darian White - 5-6 - Gr. - G - 10.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg
1 - Jaz Shelley - 5-9 - Gr. - G - 10.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg
15 - Kendall Moriarty - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Off the Bench
21 - Annika Stewart - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg
14 - Callin Hake - 5-9 - So. - G - 8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
42 - Maddie Krull - 5-9 - Gr. - G - 5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
12 - Jessica Petrie - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
2 - Logan Nissley - 6-0 - Fr. - G - 4.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg
32 - Kendall Coley - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Eighth Season at Nebraska (117-100); 17th Season Overall (310-209)

Lamar Cardinals (3-1, 0-0 Southland)
22 - NJ Weems - 6-1 - Sr. - F - 4.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg
41 - Akasha Davis - 6-2 - Jr. - F/C - 14.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
3 - Sabria Dean - 5-7 - Sr. - G - 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
4 - Brooklyn Mitchell - 5-7 - Gr. - G - 2.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
30 - R’Mani Taylor - 5-6 - So. - G - 6.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Off the Bench
13 - Taliah Hill - 6-0 - Jr. - F - 7.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
1 - Jacei Denley - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 6.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg
0 - T’Aliyah Miner - 5-11 - Jr. - G/F - 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
21 - Teni Kuyinu - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 5.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg
10 - Malay McQueen - 5-7 - Gr. - G - 4.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg
33 - Anaya Bernard - 5-10 - Jr. - G/F - 3.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg
2 - Victoria Mason - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 2.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg
23 - Elise Jones - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg
Head Coach: Aqua Franklin (Texas A&M, 2008)
Fifth Season at Lamar/Overall (57-61)

Scouting The Lamar Cardinals

Coach Aqua Franklin leads Lamar to the St. Pete Showcase with a 3-1 record heading into Wednesday’s opening game with UTEP. The Cardinals own wins over UT Arlington, Texas College and LSU-Alexandria along with a 61-44 setback at Texas Tech. Franklin was a starting point guard at Texas A&M under Coach Gary Blair. She led the Aggies to the 2008 NCAA Elite Eight as a senior, before being chosen by Sacramento in the 2008 WNBA Draft. She helped the Monarchs to the playoffs in 2008, before concluding her playing career with the Seattle Storm in 2009. 

Franklin began her coaching career as a GA at A&M, before joining current Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider at Stephen F. Austin in 2010-11. She got a full-time job at Kansas under Bonnie Henrickson, where she tutored Angel Goodrich, before moving on to Mississippi State. Franklin returned to Kansas under Schneider, before taking over the Lamar program in 2019-20.

Franklin led the Beaumont, Texas school to a 20-12 record in 2022-23 that included a 12-6 Southland Conference mark and a trip to the league tournament title game.

The Cardinals are led by Sabria Dean, who is averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.8 steals through four games. Dean recently achieved 1,000 career points. Last season, she averaged 13.1 points and 3.8 boards while leading LU with 53 total steals over her team-high 32 starts.

Lamar also returns its top returning scorer from each of the past two seasons, Akasha Davis. The 6-2 junior forward/center from Dallas is averaging 14.0 points and 5.5 rebounds through four games while shooting 71 percent from the field and 85.7 percent at the free throw line. Last season she averaged 14.6 points and a team-best 8.8 rebounds, after averaging team bests of 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman in 2021-22.

Returning part-time starters R’Mani Taylor (6.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and NJ Weems (3.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg)  along with newcomer and Kansas transfer Brooklyn Mitchell (2.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg) have joined Dean and Davis in Lamar’s starting five for each of the first four games.

Returning part-time starters Taliah Hill (7.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Malay McQueen (4.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg) continue to play significant roles for the Cardinals but have come off the bench through four contests. McQueen is Lamar’s top three-point threat (6-13 3FG). 

Another returning player, Anaya Bernard (3.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg) adds more experience for Lamar in her second season after transferring from Idaho State.

Freshman Jacei Denley has made the biggest early impact of the Cardinal newcomers. The 5-7 guard from Beaumont is averaging 6.8 points and a team-best 3.3 assists along with 2.5 steals.

Junior college transfers T’Aliyah Miner (5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg) and Teni Kuyinu (5.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg) have also made significant early contributions.

As a team, Lamar is outscoring opponents 74.5-50.0, while hitting 47.5 percent of its shots from the field, including 30.2 percent of its three-pointers. The Cardinals have knocked down 72.9 percent of their free throws. LU owns a 35.0-30.8 rebound advantage, and a plus-8.5 turnover margin. 

Nebraska vs. Lamar Series History

Nebraska leads the all-time series with Lamar, 1-0, with a 62-49 win at G. Rollie White Coliseum in College Station, Texas, on Dec. 5, 1986. Maurtice Ivy led Nebraska with 16 points and eight rebounds on her way to MVP honors the following night at the Lady Aggie Classic.

Thursday’s game will be a battle of the Big Reds, as both Nebraska and Lamar use “Big Red” as secondary nicknames.

Nebraska is 5-0 against teams from the state of Texas during Amy Williams’ eight seasons as Husker head coach. Last season, NU notched wins over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 25), Tarleton (Nov. 22) and Houston Christian (Nov. 11). The Huskers added a win over Prairie View A&M (Nov. 11, 2021). The first win for Williams as head coach at Nebraska came against Texas Rio Grande Valley (Nov. 12, 2016) in the Preseason WNIT.

The Huskers own an eight-game winning streak overall against teams from Texas, dating back to a loss to then-No. 5 Texas A&M on March 5, 2011.  The stretch includes a win by the No. 24 Huskers over the No. 9 Aggies in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament (March 25, 2013). 

Husker Nuggets
• Jaz Shelley was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Watch List on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

• Nebraska signee Britt Prince (Elkhorn North) was named to the Naismith Trophy High School Girl’s Player of the Year Top 50 on Thursday, Nov. 16.

• Alexis Markowski has been named to the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll each of the first two weeks of the 2023-24 season. Markowski averaged 22.0 points and 7.0 rebounds last week (Nov. 20) for the Huskers, after producing 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds during the opening week (Nov. 13).

• Markowski ranks seventh in the Big Ten in scoring (18.5 ppg), fourth in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and 10th in field goal percentage (.556) through four games.

• The Huskers had six players produce double figures in points against Northwestern State, marking the first time Nebraska accomplished that feat since a 90-61 season-opening win over Oral Roberts on Dec. 4, 2020.

• The Huskers have hit at least one three in 468 straight games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. Nebraska has hit at least two threes in 347 consecutive games.

• Nebraska has hit 10 or more threes 28 times in the last 77 games, including 15 times in 2022-23. The Huskers opened 2023-24 with 10 three-pointers in a win over Northwestern State (Nov. 6, 2023). Nebraska knocked down a 2022-23 season-high 14 threes in a season-opening win over Omaha (Nov. 7, 2022). 

• Through the first 20 seasons with the three-point shot in women’s basketball (1988-2007), Nebraska hit 10 threes in a game just six times (591 games).

White Shines in Starting Role for Huskers

Nebraska has received an immediate boost in the backcourt from three-time first-team All-Big Sky guard Darian White.

The 5-6 graduate student transferred into the Husker program during the summer after averaging 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals over 120 starts in four seasons at Montana State. 

The No. 2 scorer in Montana State history, White finished with 1,716 points, 612 rebounds, 449 assists and 260 steals.

White was the 2022 Big Sky Tournament MVP, leading the Bobcats to the conference title and a trip to the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

She was also a two-time Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year (2021, 2022) and the 2020 Big Sky Freshman of the Year.

White was the 2019 Idaho Gatorade High School Player of the Year and joins three-time North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year Logan Nissley, two-time Missouri MaxPreps Player of the Year Natalie Potts and Australian National Program forward Jessica Petrie in Nebraska’s group of four newcomers for 2023-24.

White is coming off her first Husker double-double with season highs of 13 points and 10 rebounds against No. 22 Creighton (Nov. 19).

In her Nebraska regular-season debut, White scored 13 points, including six in a 16-0 run to start the game, while adding game highs of nine rebounds and three steals to go along with four assists in Nebraska’s 90-42 win over Northwestern State (Nov. 6).

She was strong in all phases of her first road game as a Husker, contributing 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in a 71-52 victory at Wyoming.

Through four games, White is averaging 10.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals.

White took the court for the first time at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Nebraska’s exhibition win over Dakota Wesleyan (Oct. 29), producing 13 points, seven rebounds and game highs of eight assists and four steals.

Potts Smoking Hot to Start College Career

Two-time Missouri MaxPreps High School Player of the Year Natalie Potts has made an instant impact on Nebraska’s lineup. The 6-2 forward from O’Fallon, Mo., averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 block to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors (Nov. 13).

She backed up her opening-week efforts by averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in her second week. Potts capped the week with a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting against No. 22 Creighton (Nov. 19), after getting seven points and career highs of 11 rebounds and three blocks in a win over Alcorn State (Nov. 14).

In Nebraska’s 71-52 road win at Wyoming, Potts was a catalyst at both ends of the court, erupting for 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while adding two steals and a blocked shot. Potts was a menace defensively, creating easy offensive opportunities with deflections at the front of Nebraska’s press to help turn an early Husker deficit into a double-digit road victory over the Cowgirls.

In her regular-season collegiate debut, Potts added 10 points, five rebounds, an assist, two steals and a block while hitting 5-of-7 shots from the field in a 90-42 win over Northwestern State (Nov. 6).

Through four games, Potts has hit 17-of-19 (.895) two-point field goal attempts and 3-of-8 (.375) three-point tries. Overall, she is shooting 73.1 percent from the field.

Husker Numbers to Watch

• Darian White has scored in double figures 100 times in her college career (97, Montana State; 3, Nebraska) after getting 13 points and 10 rebounds against No. 22 Creighton (Nov. 19).

•  Jaz Shelley is eight assists from joining the top 10 at Nebraska in career assists. Shelley heads into the St. Pete Showcase with 384 assists in two-plus years at Nebraska. All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge ranks 10th in school history with 392.  

•  Jaz Shelley is 24 assists away from 500 in her college career. Only five Huskers in history have totaled 500 collegiate assists (Lindsey Moore, Meggan Yedsena, Rachel Theriot, Jina Johansen, Nicole Kubik).

• Jaz Shelley needs seven three-pointers to climb to No. 5 on the Nebraska career three-point list, matching Lindsey Moore (173, 2010-13). 

• Alexis Markowski needs two double-doubles to climb into a tie for sixth in Nebraska history with Nafeesah Brown (24, 1992-94). Markowski is currently tied for seventh with Janet Smith (22, 1979-82).

• Annika Stewart needs four points to reach 500 in her career.

Nebraska Notables

• Two-time All-Big Ten center Alexis Markowski (Lincoln, Neb.) was the Big Ten’s top rebounder with 322 rebounds in 2022-23. She was the only Big Ten player to average a double-double (12.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg) during regular-season conference play.

• Jaz Shelley is 62 points away from becoming the 37th 1,000-point scorer in Nebraska history. Alexis Markowski is 112 points from reaching 1,000 career points.

• Darian White is 241 points away from 2,000 in her college career.