“I mean, I think it looks pretty good.” Taylor Kissinger’s comment prompted abrupt laughter from her teammate, freshman Ashtyn Veerbeek, at Tuesday’s pre-Northwestern press conference.
The sophomore was referring to her unconventional shooting method. “I think a lot of people (say) I ‘cock it and lock it.’ That I just wind it up, but I don’t know.” Kissinger said. “If it goes in it goes in.”
That it has. Kissinger is third place in all of Division 1 NCAA women’s basketball in three point field goal percentage, sitting at 49.4% on the season. The 6-foot-1 guard has made 41 of her 83 attempts thus far.
It’s a marked improvement over her total from last season, even though she shot a respectable 36.2% from beyond the arc in 2017-18. “I think I’m just getting my feet set a lot quicker and I’m only taking the shots where I know I’m going to have a higher percentage of it going in,” she said. “Last year, I kind of came off as a freshman. I was just excited to play and everything, so I was kind of shooting it everywhere honestly.”
However, her head coach Amy Williams, says that Kissinger can afford to be less picky in her shot selection. “I would absolutely want her to take more,” Williams said. “If you have a 50% three point field goal shooter on your team, you want to try to get them as many opportunities as you can.”
Kissinger’s three point prowess has opened up the offense for everyone else, part of the reason why Nebraska has won two straight games, including a win over a ranked Minnesota squad.
“I think everyone on our team can say a huge thank you to Taylor,” Williams said. “(When you make three point shots), it stretches things out.”
Nearly every player who comes off the bench has been contributing points. The Huskers are first in the Big 10 in bench points, scoring 33.7 per game. The Husker’s two leading scorers, freshmen Sam Haiby and Leigha Brown, are bench players themselves.
“I don’t view it as unconventional,” Williams said. “We view our team as a team that is very balanced in scoring and can come at you in a lot of different ways. We love being able to have those beasts off the bench, people that can really give you that punch.”
Sitting at 9-9 overall (4-3 Big 10), the Huskers are in desperate need of a win streak if they want to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. Nebraska has lost five games by two scores or less. Three of those five came to ranked opponents. After losing the first three games of 2019, Kissinger and the rest of the squad pulled themselves together to stop the bleeding.
“Whenever we would lose, after games, we would go into the locker room and all just kind of say ‘it’s okay. We’re going to bounce back. We just need to trust the process,’ and the coaches would come in and say the same thing,” Kissinger said. “It really builds on the team chemistry and it (helps) build with the trust.”
On Thursday, the Huskers can notch their third win in a row as they prepare to take on Northwestern. Like Nebraska, the Wildcats are coming off of back to back wins, including one over a ranked opponent, Indiana. Northwestern is 11-7 this season and hold the same record the Huskers do in league play, sitting at 4-3.
“We know this is a team you can’t take lightly,” Williams said. “(We) need to be a little bit more consistent with 40 minutes in this one to get a win.”