No. 1 seed Nebraska prepares for its first ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance when the Huskers take on No. 8 seed UCLA in the second round of NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Tip-off between the Huskers (31-1, 16-0 Big 12) and Bruins (25-8, 15-3 Pac-10) is set for 8:36 p.m. with live national television coverage by ESPN2.
NU’s press conference with Connie Yori, Kelsey Griffin and Dominique Kelly.
Big 12 Player-of-the-Year Griffin was named one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy on Sunday, before opening the NCAA Tournament with 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in just 25 minutes in an 83-44 win over No. 16 seed Northern Iowa. Her final point on a free throw to complete a three-point play with 7:41 left pushed her to 2,000 points in her career.
Griffin needs just seven rebounds against UCLA to become the second player in NU history with 2,000 points and 1,000 career boards, joining Jennings (2,405 points, 1,000 rebounds). This season Griffin is averaging 20.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Nebraska’s first-round NCAA win was just the fourth in school history, and the Huskers have never advanced past the second round in their eight previous NCAA Tournament appearances. As you heard in Griffin’s comments above, the team is not putting any extra pressure on themselves.
As far as the Bruins, UCLA advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 74-54 victory over ninth-seeded NC State in Sunday’s second game. Jasmine Dixon, a 5-11 sophomore forward, led the Bruins with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while hitting 8-of-11 shots from the floor against the Wolfpack.
UCLA’s leading scorer and rebounder, Dixon has averaged 15.4 points and 8.1 boards per game, since joining the lineup seven games into the season. The transfer from Rutgers also leads UCLA with 2.3 steals per contest.
Yori is very concerned with UCLA who runs 13-14 different defensive sets. In the time between the Big 12 tournament and Sunday, the Huskers were able to prepare for UCLA’s defense in the event they would play meet in the second round. Yori said the key is beating that first trap of UCLA’s which they will run a lot of. If NU can beat that first wave, they’ll have numbers on the offensive end since the Bruins tend to play defense on the aggressive side.