Nebraska will play North Carolina State on Thursday, Dec. 3, in the 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Huskers, who defeated No. 9 Duke, 60-54 in Lincoln on Dec. 3, 2014 in the annual challenge, will play host to the Wolfpack exactly one year after beating the Blue Devils in the series between two of the nation’s best women’s basketball conferences.
“We’re excited about adding another quality opponent to our home schedule this season,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “We know that NC State is a great basketball school with outstanding tradition. I think it is a matchup that our fans and our players will be excited about.”
The young Huskers will expect to have their hands full with a Wolfpack team that returns four starters from last year’s squad that finished 18-15 overall and 7-9 in the ACC. NC State advanced to the third round of the Postseason WNIT, ending its season with an 80-79 loss at Temple on March 26. It was one of 11 losses by single digits for the Wolfpack last season, including a pair of one-point losses and an overtime setback late in the season.
NC State returns its top two scorers, Miah Spencer (14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg) and Dominique Wilson (13.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.2 apg) from last year’s team, along with fellow starters Carlee Schumacher (7.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Jennifer Mathurin (7.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Spencer and Wilson, both 5-8 guards, will be juniors this season along with the 6-1 Mathurin. Schumacher, a 6-1 forward, will be one of three seniors on NC State’s roster.
Two years ago, the Wolfpack joined the Huskers in the four-team NCAA first- and second-round games at UCLA. The 2014 Big Ten Tournament champion Huskers ran to a win over Fresno State, while NC State suffered a setback to eventual Sweet 16 qualifier BYU. NC State finished with a 25-8 overall record in Wes Moore’s first season as head coach of the Wolfpack.
Nebraska Coach Connie Yori and the Huskers had a more direct meeting with Moore in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Moore, who spent 15 seasons as the head coach at Chattanooga, led his Mocs into a first-round NCAA Tournament game against Nebraska at College Station, Texas. The Huskers handed the SoCon regular-season and tournament champion Mocs a 73-59 loss at Reed Arena on March 23, 2013, before knocking off the hosts from Texas A&M to advance to the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16. Moore’s final Chattanooga team finished with a 29-4 overall record.
Point guard Rachel Theriot, who missed Nebraska’s final 11 games of 2014-15 with an ankle injury, is expected to be NU’s lone returning starter in 2015-16. The 2014 All-American and Big Ten Tournament MVP averaged 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists through Nebraska’s first 21 games last season. The Huskers were 17-4 with Theriot in the lineup before finishing with a 21-11 record and a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to ACC member Syracuse.
Theriot is expected to be joined by two-time Nebraska Gatorade Player-of-the-Year Jess Shepard. The 6-4 forward from Fremont is also returning from injury, but was the No. 1 post player and No. 3 overall recruit in the nation according to ESPN last year. She suffered an ACL tear on Dec. 29.
Sophomore Natalie Romeo, who averaged 9.0 points and 2.5 rebounds as a part-time starter last year, also will return for the Huskers. Romeo averaged 15.4 points per game over the final eight games as a true freshman, including a career-high 26 points and a school-record seven three-pointers in a win over Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament on March 5.
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup between Nebraska and NC State at Pinnacle Bank Arena will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools on a home court. Nebraska a 2-1 series advantage over the Wolfpack, with all three meetings coming on neutral courts. The last time Nebraska face NC State, the Huskers rolled to a 94-74 win on Dec. 28, 2006 in the opening round of the State Farm Classic in Gainesville, Fla. NC State and legendary coach Kay Yow had defeated Nebraska, 55-45, two years earlier at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, on Nov. 26, 2004.
The first meeting between the two schools dates all the way back to March 19, 1976, at the National Women’s Invitational Tournament in Amarillo, Texas, when the Huskers beat the Wolfpack, 72-69.
2015 Big Ten ACC Challenge Games
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015
Illinois at Miami
Georgia Tech at Indiana
Iowa at Virginia
Syracuse at Maryland
Northwestern at North Carolina
Ohio State at Notre Dame
Wisconsin at Wake Forest
Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015
Pittsburgh at Michigan
Louisville at Michigan State
Minnesota at Duke
North Carolina State at Nebraska
Virginia Tech at Penn State
Boston College at Purdue
Rutgers at Florida State