Shelley Shoots Huskers Past Drexel
San Diego - Jaz Shelley scored 30 points and buried six three-pointers to shoot Nebraska to a 65-53 women's basketball win over Drexel in the Huskers' opening game at The Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Friday.
Shelley, a sophomore from Moe, Australia, got her 30 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field, including 6-of-7 three-pointers, while helping the Huskers seal the victory with 8-of-9 free throw shooting. The 5-9 guard added seven rebounds, two assists and four unofficial blocked shots to help Nebraska improve to 6-0 on the season. Drexel, the 2021 Colonial Athletic Association champions, slipped to 3-2.
It was Nebraska's first win over a 2021 NCAA Tournament team this season, second over a postseason tournament qualifier (also Creighton) and second over a 2021 conference champion (also Maine). It was also NU's fifth double-digit victory through six games.
While Shelley carried the scoring load, Bella Cravens and Alexis Markowski played big inside for the Big Red. Cravens finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, including nine in the first half, while Markowski added nine big boards. Cravens and Markowski each contributed five points. Isabelle Bourne added a solid effort with seven points and six rebounds.
Californian MiCole Cayton added six points on a pair of three-pointers, while Annika Stewart also pitched in six points on a three-pointer and a traditional three-point play off the bench.
Nebraska got off to a slow start, trailing 8-0 to open the game. The Huskers missed open looks from all over the court in the first six minutes, before Markowski put the Big Red on the board with a strong move at the rim.
Shelley then entered the picture for the Big Red, burying three consecutive three-pointers in a span of 90 seconds to shoot Nebraska to its first lead at 11-10 with 1:53 left in the opening quarter. However, Drexel's Hannah Nihill finished the period strong with five straight points of her own in the final 90 seconds to put the Dragons up 15-11 at the end of the first. Nihill scored 13 straight points for Drexel in the quarter, after Keishana Washington scored the game's first two points.
Washington then opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and her two-pointer with just over five minutes left sent Drexel to the second-quarter media timeout with a 23-17 lead.
Shelley then erupted again, scoring nine points in the final 3:35 of the period to spark a 14-0 run by the Big Red to take a 31-23 halftime lead. Shelley finished the first half a perfect 5-for-5 from long range and 3-of-3 at the free throw line for 18 points. On the other end, the Huskers shut out Nihill in the second period.
The Huskers knew there would be no quit in the Dragons. Drexel scored the first four points of the second half to trim the margin back to four points at 31-27. The lead remained at four points before Shelley extended the margin to 36-29 on another three-pointer. An Isabelle Bourne putback and a Shelley layup gave the Big Red its first double-digit lead of the game at 40-29, before Shelley capped a 9-0 Husker run with another layup to make it 42-29 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
Drexel could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, and Nebraska sank 7-of-8 free throws in the final 2:34 to seal the double-digit win.
For the game, Nebraska hit 42.9 percent (21-49) of its shots from the floor, including 36 percent (9-25) three-pointers. The Huskers held a 15-point edge over the Dragons from distance, holding Drexel to just 4-of-19 (.211) three-point shooting. Nebraska also outscored the Dragons 14-3 at the free throw line, as the Huskers committed just six fouls in the contest.
As a team, Drexel hit just 29.9 percent (23-77) of its shots from the field and got out-rebounded 51-33 by Nebraska. However, the Dragons won the turnover battle 20-2 and outscored the Huskers 17-0 in points off turnovers. Nebraska's bench made up for that margin by outscoring the Drexel reserves, 19-2.
Nihill led the Dragons with 19 points on 9-of-23 shooting, while Washington added 13 points on 6-of-21 shooting. Washington also dished out four assists. Kate Connolly put a trio of Dragons in double figures with 11 points to go along with a game-high five steals. Drexel's leading scorer and rebounder, Tessa Brugler was held to six points on 2-of-12 shooting, but did pull down 10 rebounds.
Nebraska advances in The Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament to take on the hosts from San Diego on Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT). The Toreros, led by former Nebraska assistant coach Cindy Fisher, posted a 68-64 win over 2021 WNIT Postseason qualifier Fresno State earlier Friday afternoon. The game can be heard across the Huskers Radio Network, on Huskers.com and the Huskers App. A live video stream can also be accessed through usdtoreros.com.