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This Week In Husker Women's Basketball: Back to Earth

The Husker women lose one and win two, including a close call against Creighton, to bring their record to 8-1.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Note: The women play Evansville Tuesday, December 8 at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on BTNplus (an online subscription available independent of your cable/satellite provider). Thanks CN member larr for correcting my original post indicating it was on BTN.

The high-flying Husker women’s basketball team came back down to earth a bit this past week, suffering their first loss to the University of Connecticut and needing a huge comeback to avoid the loss to in-state rival Creighton. The Huskers are currently #33 and in the "teams receiving votes" group in polls.

My biggest observation is that senior point guard, Rachel Theriot, is returning to the pre-injury form that made her an All-American her sophomore year and All Big Ten (2nd team) her junior year despite missing the last 11 games of the season. She was named to pretty much every major women’s basketball award watchlist to start this season, but in early games it looked like she might take a back seat to freshman phenom Jessica Shepard and long-range bomber Natalie Romeo.

Just like the Husker men’s hoops team of two years ago, the emergence of a third scoring threat makes any team much more dangerous to plan for and defend.

Also, I think the B1G office should just send out a press release when she does not win this…

December 6 - Creighton 63 Nebraska 65

(Jill's note: I was not able to listen to this one, so you get a short, canned summary)

Nebraska produced the largest comeback in Coach Connie Yori's 14 seasons with the Huskers, rallying from 21 points down late in the second quarter for a 65-63 win over in-state rival Creighton.The Huskers, who improved to 6-1 on the season, trailed 41-20 with with just over five minutes left in the first half before coming all the way back to take the lead on Rachel Theriot's three-pointer from the left wing with 1:35 left.

Theriot's second three of the game put the Huskers up 64-62. It was Nebraska's first lead since 2-0 to start the game.Theriot sealed the win with a free throw with eight seconds left to finish with 17 points and a game-high eight assists. She did all of her scoring in the final 30:01 of game action, including a buzzer-beating three from 25-feet on the right wing to close the first half and send the Huskers to halftime down 43-32.

December 3 - North Carolina State 67 Nebraska 88

In the B1G-ACC challenge, Nebraska’s senior point guard Rachel Theriot was hot from the start as she scored the first six Husker points. NCSU’s point guard, Dominique Wilson, traded baskets with her to start the game up to 7-6 (Wolfpack leading). Nebraska’s post players, Blackburn, Shepard and Havers, were playing solid, aggressive basketball on both ends of the floor. Blackburn was especially effective on defense; rebounding and drawing offensive (and defensive) fouls. Havers was scoring quickly, and Shepard had 2 assists. The #4 post, Anya Kalenta, was providing some solid relief minutes and hit an early 3-ball to send a message that the Wolfpack defense could not just pack the paint.

The Wolfpack is a very good defensive team and caused trouble for the Huskers for the first minute of the second quarter. A failure on their part to get back in transition quickly enough led to the first Romeo three-pointer of the night. The Wolfpack managed to claw back to a 21-21 tie before Romeo hit her second three of the night. The Huskers proceeded to rip off a 20-0 run including 2 Theriot three-pointers to close out the half. Rachel Blackburn took 3 offensive fouls in the first half to punctuate her stellar defensive effort.

At the start of the third quarter, NCSU came out hot and cut five points out of the 20 point lead before Coach Yori was forced to call a timeout. After the TO, they stabilized things with the lead fluctuating around 16/18 before going on a mini run to extend the lead to 24. By this point the Big Red hit a season high eight 3-pointers and still had a quarter to go.

Rachel Theriot seems to have put her ankle injury of last season behind her as she had 20 points through 3 quarters. It is not unusual for a serious injury to cause a high-level player to require a few games to get back to trusting their body’s ability to do what they want it to do. Hopefully this game is a sign of things to come. Allie Havers fouled out of the game on a terrible call with 3 minutes left. She had played well to that point.

Of note: Anya Kalenta (11) and Maddie Simon (10) scored in double digits. I am fairly certain that is the first time in both of their careers, but am writing this without double-checking. Rachel Blackburn also pulled down double-digit rebounds (11).

This was a quality team that the Huskers put away. While not the 40+ point wins of the first few games of the schedule, this may have been the most impressive win so far.

November 28 - Connecticut 88 Nebraska 46

Three-time defending national champion UConn has laid waste to women’s basketball for several years, routinely defeating other ranked teams by double digits. The only teams that have come within 20 of them this year were ranked Notre Dame and DePaul. Even top 10 Ohio State fell by over 40 points to this steamroller.It is no surprise that the Huskers went down hard after flying high so far this season. It is impressive that Nebraska managed to make a game out of for a quarter or so.

The Huskers came ready to play and jumped to a 7-3 lead on Theriot's floater with 7:46 left in the first quarter. UConn answered with back-to-back baskets from Morgan Tuck to tie the score, before Rachel Blackburn's three-point play put the Big Red back up 10-7 with just over five minutes left in the quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Stewart gave UConn a 12-10 lead before the Huskers took their last lead at 13-12 on Romeo's three-pointer with 2:50 left.UConn closed out the quarter with a 7-2 surge then scored the first five points of the second quarter to take its first double-digit lead at 24-14 with 8:54 left in the first half.

The Huskers continued to trail by 10 after back-to-back baskets by Shepard trimmed the margin to 30-20 with 4:17 left in the half. The Huskies led by as many as 18 points late in the half, before heading to to the locker room leading 40-24 at the half.UConn put any Husker hopes of an upset away with a 23-6 third quarter to take a 63-30 lead into the final quarter.Theriot, who added six assists for the Huskers, was joined in double figures for the Huskers by sophomore guard Natalie Romeo, who managed 11 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds.Jessica Shepard rounded out the Huskers in double digits with 10 points and five rebounds.