Not just a regular basketball game

Nebraska Cornhuskers host the Wayne State College Wildcats in a once in a lifetime contest at Pinnacle Bank Arena

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  • Sadie Murren drives the lane through three Nebraska Husker defenders in last Sunday’s exhibition contest. Murren was playing her first collegiate game not in a Nebraska Cornhusker uniform, facing her former team for the first time.

  • Ashton Yossi steals the ball from Rachel Theriot in last Sunday’s exhibition with Nebraska.

  • Jordan Spencer takes a shot from the elbow in last Sunday’s exhibition match with Nebraska. Spencer had a team-high 11 points in the game.

  • Alex Nelson drives to the basket and puts up a shot over a Nebraska defender in a 84-43 win for the Huskers.

  • Chris Kielsmeier and Connie Yori exchange pleasantries before their teams took to the Pinnacle Bank Arena.

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Richard Rhoden, Sports Editor

It wasn’t just a game; it was an experience.

The Wayne State College women’s basketball team tipped off their 2014-15 campaign with an exhibition game against an in-state opponent everyone is familiar with—the Nebraska Cornhuskers. As one would expect, Nebraska flexed its muscles and cruised to an 84-43 victory.

But for Wayne State, it wasn’t about getting the victory, it was about bettering themselves and the team.

“We just had a hard time getting into a flow on offense. Defensively, we made some mistakes early on and I think that got into the heads of our players,” coach Chris Kielsmeier said. “I’m proud of how our players continued to fight, but wish we would have played a little better.”

The Lady Wildcats took to the Pinnacle Bank Arena in front of 4,948 ecstatic Wildcat and Husker fan bases.

The Huskers wasted little time taking an advantage over the Wildcats, making their first 10 shots and racing out to a 14-4 lead. Jordan Spencer scored the first six points for the Wildcats in the paint, facing just about everything the Huskers could throw at her defensively.

First, it was Emily Cady that couldn’t stop Spencer.

The Huskers then tried to stop the 5’11 forward from Millard West high school by switching ball screens.

Spencer scored on a layup.

Connie Yori then went to her best defensive player, Hailie Sample, to try her luck.

It seemed to do the trick, as Spencer went scoreless in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Spencer was overpowered by Sample, something that doesn’t happen often for her in the NSIC.

Yori said of Sample that she can guard anyone on the court and be successful, and Kielsmeier had similar praise for Sample’s defensive ability.

When Spencer was asked post game who guarded her the best, her answer was the same.

“She was bigger than the other ones so I thought she had an advantage size wise, not in height but in strength,” she said. “She knew I would drive more, so she sagged off me and driving is my strength.

“I feel like we have a lot to work on, but considering we have such a young team I feel like we as a whole did alright.”

Nebraska carried the hot hand throughout the first half, shooting 59 percent from the field and flexed their muscles defensively, holding Wayne State to just 23 percent shooting and took a 43-15 lead at the half.

“They [Nebraska] are so experienced, and we didn’t make them make any mistakes,” Kielsmeier said. “We gave them a lot of confidence early and I think that made our players more tentative offensively and almost afraid to make a mistake.”

The second half was much of the same for both teams, as the Huskers continued to collect buckets while playing good defense.

Wayne State was better offensively in the second half, but was still outscored by Nebraska 41-28 as the Wildcats were 33 percent from the field while the Huskers cooled off to just 48 percent to a 84-43 victory.

The Wildcats finished the game with 29 percent shooting, going 3 for 11 from the 3-point line and 4 of 5 at the free throw line.

“It’s important for our team to understand that Nebraska is going to do this to a lot of Division I teams,” Kielsmeier said. “They’ll make a lot of teams look really bad, and it is okay that this happened.”

Jordan Spencer led the Wildcats with 11 points on 5 of 14 shooting and leading the team in minutes with 31.

Haley Moore and Katie Hoskins each scored eight points and spent 20 minutes on the floor while Ashton Yossi added seven points and 27 minutes.

The Huskers were led by Emily Cady with a double-double, scoring 20 points and 11 rebounds. Brandi Jeffery chipped in 14, Tear’a Laudermill 12 and Allie Havers and Rachel Theriot dumped in 10 each.

Nebraska shot 53 percent from the field and was 6 of 19 beyond the arc and 12 for 18 at the free throw line.

“You hope that a setting like this isn’t too big for them, we have a young team, we have eight new players, and it showed,” Kielsmeier said.

“It was a great setting, our fans and community did a great job coming out and supporting us and we are appreciative of that,” Kielsmeier said. “Hopefully this is something we can make into an annual thing.”

It was also an emotional experience for one of Wayne State’s newest players, Sadie Murren. She spent her first two seasons with Nebraska, and transferred to Wayne State this year.

At first, Murren was reserved about playing in this game with her former teammates, but she eventually came around to the idea and scored three points on 1 of 11 shooting while playing 25 minutes.

Before the game, Murren exchanged smiles and handshakes with all her former teammates, and hugged every Nebraska player when the game was over.

“After the game, hugging all of the players and coaches I’ve been with the last two years, that was difficult,” Murren said about the toughest part of the experience. “They’re a great family, Coach Yori texted me all week to make sure I’d be okay for this and it was really nice for her to be that way.”

Kielsmeier had nothing but praise for Murren, saying you have to give her a lot of credit for wanting to go through with it.

“I love Husker Nation and they love me,” she said. “It was hard in that sense but the coaches told me to play the game that I love and that really helped.

“But, I still knew who I was playing and that was really difficult, but I think I took it okay.”

However, Murren is excited about the team that she is on now and has a lot of confidence going into the season, even after the exhibition with Nebraska.

“I think this team has a lot of potential and I think that we can go far,” Murren said.

Wayne State officially gets the season started at home Nov. 14, taking on another in-state foe in the University of Nebraska-Kearney, following that up with Northwest Missouri State the next day.