Huskers set for high noon top twenty showdown
The Nebraska women's basketball team makes its regular-season debut in its new home at Pinnacle Bank Arena, when the Huskers take on UCLA on Friday, Nov. 8, at Noon (CT).
Nebraska, ranked No. 17 in the preseason Associated Press Poll and No. 12 in the preseason USA Today Top 25, will face a Bruins team the entered the season at No. 25 in the USA Today rankings while receiving votes in the AP Poll.
Two-time All-American and two-time first-team All-Big Ten forward Jordan Hooper leads four returning starters from a Husker squad that advanced to the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16, while All-Pac-12 forward Atonye Nyingifa leads a new-look bunch of Bruins from a team that went to the second round of the Big Dance a year ago.
Season and single-game tickets for Nebraska's first season in its new home for hoops are available at Huskers.com or by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED. NU's season ticket sales for women's basketball have increased by more than 50 percent from a year ago. A school-record that has surpassed 3,200 season tickets sold.
A live radio broadcast will be provided by the Husker Sports Network, including KNEB 94.1 The Brand. Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch will be on the call as they begin their 13th year together for the Husker Sports Network.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (25-9, 12-4 Big Ten)
3 - Hailie Sample - 6-1 - Jr. - F - 4.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg
23 - Emily Cady - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 9.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg
35 - Jordan Hooper - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 17.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg
33 - Rachel Theriot - 6-0 - So. - G - 6.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg
13 - Brandi Jeffery - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 3.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Off the Bench
1 - Tear'a Laudermill - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 5.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg
10 - Hannah Tvrdy - 5-9 - Fr. - G - High School
11 - Esther Ramacieri - 5-8 - Fr. - G - High School
14 - Katie Simon - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 2.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg
21 - Sadie Murren - 5-8 - So. - G - 1.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg
22 - Allie Havers - 6-5 - Fr. - C - High School
Head Coach: Connie Yori (Creighton, 1986)
12th Season at NU (215-135); 24th Season Overall (410-275)
UCLA Bruins (26-8, 14-4 Pac-12)
11 - Atonye Nyingifa - 5-11 - Sr. - F - 11.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg
13 - Luiana Livulo - 6-3 - Jr. - C - JUCO
1 - Thea Lemberger - 5-7 - Sr. - G - 8.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg
21 - Nirra Fields - 5-9 - So. - G - 7.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg
22 - Madeline Brooks - 5-8 - Jr. - G - 0.5 ppg, 0.1 rpg
Off the Bench
2 - Kari Korver - 5-9 - So. - G - Injured
4 - Lauren Holiday - 5-8 - RFr. - G - 1.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg
10 - Kacy Swain - 6-3 - Jr. - F - Injured
14 - Dominique Williams - 5-8 - Fr. - G - High School
20 - Rhema Gardner - 6-1 - RJr. - F/G - Redshirted
24 - Paulina Hersler - 6-2 - Fr. - F - High School
34 - Corinne Costa - 6-4 - RJr. - F/C - 4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
54 - Savanna Trapp - 6-9 - Fr. - C - High School
Head Coach: Cori Close (UC Santa Barbara, 1993)
Third Season at UCLA (40-24); Third Season Overall (40-24)
Nebraska will celebrate its first season in Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013-14. The arena, located in the historic Haymarket in downtown Lincoln just steps away from the Nebraska campus, will serve as the new home for Husker men's and women's basketball teams.
The $179 million project was completed in the summer of 2013 after being approved by voters in May of 2010. A ribbon cutting ceremony that included Governor Dave Heineman, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst and Husker coaches Connie Yori and Tim Miles, tipped off the opening of the new arena in late August.
The 470,400-square foot arena project has sparked a revitalization of the Haymarket District, including the addition of several new hotels and upscale housing options. It also has added the Railyard, an outdoor entertainment area adjacent to the arena. The Railyard includes "The Cube" a massive outdoor screen that will serve as a hub for other entertainment options.
In "Season One" at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Husker women's basketball program has experienced more than a 50 percent increase in season ticket sales, surpassing the 3,200 mark. The number shattered NU's previous season ticket record.
The women's program was also selected as one of four NCAA Regional hosts for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Huskers will play host to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds at Pinnacle Bank Arena, March 29-31. Nebraska has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in two of the past four seasons, but Lincoln has not played host to an NCAA Tournament game in men's or women's basketball since 1993.
On the men's side, the Huskers have sold out for the season, guaranteeing a school-record average of more than 15,000 per game in their first year at the arena.
Third-year coach Cori Close brings a new-look Bruins bunch to Lincoln for the season-opening battle with Nebraska. Last season, a veteran UCLA team led by All-American Markel Walker and fellow seniors Alyssia Brewer and Jasmine Dixon, powered the Bruins to a 26-8 overall record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The experienced UCLA unit went 14-4 and finished third in the Pac-12.
UCLA lost 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds from Brewer, along with 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and team bests of 5.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game from Walker. Dixon added 8.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Overall, the Bruins return two starters - leading scorer and No. 3 rebounder Atonye Nyingifa and fellow senior Thea Lemberger - from its 2013 team. Nyingifa, a sixth-year senior from Torrance, Calif., averaged 11.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while leading the Bruins in starts (29) and minutes played (1,067). In UCLA's lone exhibition game of 2013-14, Nyingifa erupted for 19 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Vanguard. She had 10 offensive rebounds in that game.
Lemberger has been a regular starter for the last two years. As a sophomore, she averaged 12.0 points per game, before averaging 8.6 points per contest a year ago. She has made 53 starts and hit 68 career three-pointers for the Bruins.
In addition to losing four starters from last year's team, UCLA was dealt injuries to a pair of players expected to contend for starting jobs this year - Kari Korver and Kacy Swain. Korver, a 5-9 sophomore guard, and Swain, a 6-3 junior forward, both suffered knee injuries in preseason workouts and are out for the year. Korver made eight starts last year and averaged 4.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, while Swain averaged 3.1 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest in 33 games off the bench. Other past contributors Corinne Costa, Rhema Gardner and Lauren Holiday are also on the mend from injuries.
Despite the losses, the Bruins still feature plenty of weapons. Sophomore Nirra Fields was one of the Pac-12's top freshmen a year ago despite playing a limited role. She averaged 7.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in just over 19 minutes per game off the bench. In UCLA's exhibition win over Vanguard on Oct. 31, Fields had 17 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists.
Junior transfer Luiana Livulo brings size and experience to the Bruin lineup. The 6-3 center from Lisbon, Portugal spent the past two seasons at Northwest Florida State. She also brings extensive experience in the Portuguese National Program. In UCLA's exhibition win, she produced 13 points and six rebounds.
Madeline Brooks, a 5-8 junior guard, rounds out UCLA's probable starting five, while freshman Dominique Williams could expect to see extensive time in the backcourt. Fellow freshman Savanna Trapp, a 6-9 center from Esko, Minn., could also see time. She blocked more than 600 shots during her high school career.
UCLA leads the all-time series with Nebraska 4-1, but the Huskers' victory came in the most recent meeting between the two programs. Nebraska ran to an 83-70 win over UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on March 23, 2010, to advance to the program's first Sweet 16.
UCLA won the first four meetings in the series, including a 72-63 win in Lincoln on Feb. 3, 1979. UCLA is 2-0 against the Huskers in Los Angeles (Jan. 11, 1977; Jan. 10, 1984) and owns an 85-67 neutral site win over the Big Red in Hawaii on Nov. 27, 1998.
The day begins with a special Nebraska Life Skills Pep Rally the morning of Nov. 8 inside the arena, which will feature more than 4,000 middle school youth from more than 40 schools from Lincoln and surrounding communities. The youth pep rally is one of several special events planned for Nov. 8.