LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Jan. 4)–Freshman Alexis Markowski erupted for a career-high 20 points in her first career start, while Jaz Shelley added her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead Nebraska to an impressive 79-58 women’s basketball win over No. 8 Michigan on Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Huskers, who improved to 13-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, led from start to finish and won going away, taking their biggest lead of the night on Kendall Coley’s three-pointer with 11 seconds left.
The 21-point win over the Wolverines (12-2, 3-1 Big Ten) marked Nebraska’s first win over a top-10 AP foe since defeating No. 9 Duke at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in December of 2014. The Huskers defeated five AP top-25 teams a year ago, including three teams ranked No. 15 at game time.
The victory was Nebraska’s 10th straight at home, as the Huskers improved to 9-0 in Lincoln this season, while snapping Michigan’s five-game winning streak that included back-to-back victories over No. 5 Baylor and No. 25 Ohio State.
Markowski, a 6-3 forward/center from Lincoln, drew her first start in place of injured starter Bella Cravens who sat out with an ankle injury suffered in practice on Monday afternoon. The 2021 Nebraska High School Player of the Year, Markowski wasted little time in establishing herself against Michigan All-American Naz Hillmon, scoring the Huskers’ first two points just one minute into the game.
The Huskers jumped out to an 8-2 lead behind stifling team defense and strong rebounding, and extended the margin to eight points on a Markowski bucket with 1:04 left in the first quarter that made it 16-8. Shelley then closed the quarter with a three-pointer on Nebraska’s first attempt of the night to send the Big Red to the second period with a 19-8 lead to cap a 7-0 run to close the quarter.
Nebraska extended the margin to 23-8 early in the second after a three-pointer by Annika Stewart with 8:45 left to cap an 11-0 run. Hillmon stopped the bleeding with a free throw with 8:37 left to snap a 4:49 scoring drought by the Wolverines, but Nebraska continued to control the game, leading by 15 points throughout most of the quarter before Michigan cut the margin to 34-21 at the half.
Michigan cut Nebraska’s lead to nine points with back-to-back baskets to open the second half, before Markowski took over, scoring nine consecutive points for the Huskers including her three-pointer with 5:53 left in the period to put the the Big Red back up 43-29. Moments later, Sam Haiby, who finished with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, sank a pair of free throws to give Nebraska its biggest lead at the time at 45-29.
Markowski finished with 13 points in the third quarter and the Huskers carried a 53-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
Hillmon, who managed 10 points and seven rebounds on the night, scored early in the fourth to cut NU’s margin to 10, but Stewart answered with a three-pointer before Markowski banged in a tough layup, was fouled and hit the free throw to complete a three-point play to put the Big Red back up by 15 with less than seven minutes to play.
Michigan mustered one last rally to cut the margin to 63-52 with five minutes left, but a Shelley three-pointer and a traditional three-point play by Husker freshman Allison Weidner pushed the margin back to 15 at 69-54 with 3:19 left.
An Ashley Scoggin three-pointer 30 seconds later extend the margin to 17 and ended any hopes of a Wolverine comeback. Scoggin finished with six points on a pair of threes.
Nebraska shot a strong 51.7 percent (30-58) from the field against the Wolverines, including 8-of-20 from three-point range. The Huskers also knocked down 11-of-16 free throws. NU’s suffocating defense held Michigan to just 36.7 percent shooting (22-60), including just 1-of-12 from long range. The Wolverines attempted only six three-pointers through the first three quarters, starting the game 0-for-6. Michigan also went just 13-for-22 (.591) from the free throw line.
However, the biggest stat for Nebraska came in the rebounding department, as the Huskers out-rebounded the Big Ten’s best rebounding team 42-34, and outscored Michigan 17-7 in second-chance points. Last season in a 64-62 loss in Ann Arbor, Nebraska was out-rebounded 59-32, including 30 offensive rebounds by Michigan. Hillmon finished that game with 35 points and 22 rebounds, including 13 offensive boards. On Tuesday night, Michigan managed 13 offensive rebounds as a team.
Isabelle Bourne added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists for Nebraska while drawing the primary responsibility of guarding Hillmon. Bourne, who went 5-for-7 from the field, helped hold Hillmon to 4-for-14 shooting and just two offensive rebounds. Hillmon also committed six turnovers.
Emily Kiser led Michigan with 13 points, while Maddie Nolan added 11 points, including Michigan’s lone three-pointer of the night. Former Husker Leigha Brown added 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Wolverines, but went just 3-for-13 from the floor.
Michigan’s Amy Dilk returned to the court for the Wolverines to play 16 minutes in her first action since the opening minute of the season when she suffered a knee injury against IUPUI. The two-time All-Big Ten guard managed three points.
Nebraska continues Big Ten home action on Sunday when the Huskers play host to No. 21 Iowa. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Hawkeyes is set for 1 p.m. with tickets available now at Huskers.com. Live television coverage will be provided by FS1