The Huskers rallied from a 12 point deficit to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, but missed free throws eventually doomed Nebraska in a 62-56 loss. Nebraska played some great defense but were unable to put away a confident and experienced Rutgers team in Lincoln. The Huskers fell to 7-9 and 2-3 in conference play. Rutgers is likely to move into the polls this week after improving to 13-3 and 5-0.
Freshman Leigha Brown scored a game-high 18 points while adding a career-high six rebounds, her fourth double-figure scoring performance in the last five games.
Rutgers used scalding-hot shooting in the first half and eventually pushed the margin to 13 points at 33-20 late in the second quarter before the Huskers charged back to tie the score at 52 in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Taylor Kissinger, who scored eight of her 11 points in the game in the opening 3:30 of the fourth quarter, drained her second three of the period and third of the game to tie the score with 6:30 left.
However, Nebraska went without a field goal for the next 6:25 until Brown’s third three-pointer of the game came with five seconds left.
Rutgers, who also went well over five minutes without scoring early in the fourth quarter, got a layup from senior Stasha Carey with 3:08 left to regain the lead for good. Arella Guirantes, who scored the first five points of the game before being shut out for the next 36 minutes, then hit a challenged three from the deep right wing as the shot clock expired with 1:42 left to put Rutgers up 57-52.
Nebraska continued to come up empty at the offensive end and was forced to foul, sending Carey to the line where she hit a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left to push the Rutgers lead to 59-52.
For the game, Nebraska hit just 35.6 percent (16-45) of its shots from the field against a Rutgers team that is leading the Big Ten in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. The Huskers hit 7-of-12 threes (.583) while hitting 17-of-28 free throws (.607) but missed six of their last eight free throw attempts in the game, including three in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska won the battle of the boards with Rutgers, 38-28, but committed 19 turnovers compared to just 14 for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers hit 22-of-54 shots from the field (.407), including 9-of-16 threes (.563) for the game. The Scarlet Knights also went 9-for-12 at the free throw line, including 5-for-6 in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Rutgers jumped out to an early lead, but Nebraska stayed in the game thanks to seven first-half points from Brown and five points from Kayla Mershon, who finished with seven points in the game. Sam Haiby pitched in four of her five points for the game in the first 20 minutes.
Nebraska came out of the break with some fire and went on a 9-0 scoring run - including six free throws - in the middle of the third quarter to cut Rutgers’ lead to 41-38. However Rutgers finished the period with a 50-42 lead.
The Huskers return to Big Ten road action on Thursday when they travel to Champaign to battle Illinois. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Fighting Illini at the State Farm Center is set for 7 p.m.