This one hurts. An NCAA tournament bid was already out the window for the Husker women (barring a conference tournament championship run) but this loss is starting to make even a WNIT bid look like a long shot. The Huskers slipped to 4-5 in the Big Ten and 9-11 overall, while Wisconsin improved to 11-10 and 2-7 in the league.
The Badgers are a better team than their record indicates, but this is still one that Nebraska should have won. The Husker defense has been somewhat resurgent the past few games, but they allowed the Badgers, averaging just 59 points per game in B1G contests, to score 70.
The freshmen were somewhat quiet in the scoring department as all the usual suspects from the 2017-18 season were the ones carrying the offensive load. I’m not sure what is next for Amy Williams’ crew, but this team still feel like it lacks an identity and not everyone is sure of their roles. We’ve seen Coach Williams go through this before and come out better on the other side. Fingers crossed.
Nebraska got a driving layup from Nicea Eliely with 0.7 seconds left to give the Huskers a 69-67 lead, but Wisconsin’s Kelly Karliss knocked down a three-pointer from the corner as time expired to allow the Badgers to escape with a 70-69 win at the Kohl Center on Sunday afternoon.
Karliss, who gave the Badgers just their second three-pointer of the game, caught the ball in the corner and reset her feet before loading up her three, but the shot was confirmed as a made three to give Wisconsin its second Big Ten win. Karliss finished with eight points, including six during UW’s 13-2 surge in the game’s final four minutes.
Eliely, who finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five steals, had a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter wiped off after it was originally counted following her steal with two seconds left.
Those shots were enough to make a difference in what was an evenly played game across most categories, although the only time Nebraska trailed in the contest was at the final buzzer.
Taylor Kissinger led the Huskers with 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers, while going 5-for-7 overall from the field. Fellow sophomore Kate Cain contributed her best offensive performance of Big Ten play with 14 points to go along with seven rebounds, one block and a steal. Cain and Kissinger combined for Nebraska’s first 10 points of the fourth quarter to help the Huskers build a 60-53 edge after leading just 51-49 at the end of three periods.
Junior Hannah Whitish, a Wisconsin native, added 12 points including her fourth three-pointer of the contest with 6:55 left to extend NU’s margin to 63-53. Whitish also dished out seven assists in the game.
But the Huskers got just two field goals the rest of the way, as Wisconsin stormed back to tie the score at 67 with 1:01 left on a pair of Niya Beverley free throws. In the fourth quarter, Wisconsin hit 8-of-10 free throws, including its final six. The Badgers went 14-for-20 from the line in the game, after entering the game at just 52 percent from the line for the season.
As a team, Nebraska hit 44.3 percent (27-61) of its shots from the field, including 30.4 percent (7-23) of its threes. The Huskers also went 8-for-9 at the free throw line. Both teams committed 18 turnovers in the game, and Nebraska outscored UW in points off turnovers 18-15.
However, Wisconsin won the battle of the boards 34-33, including 19-10 in the second half that included eight offensive rebounds after Nebraska dominated the first-half glass. UW outscored the Huskers 15-13 in second-chance points for the game, including 11-0 in the second half.
The Huskers continue their two-game Big Ten road swing Thursday night when they travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to battle Purdue. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Boilermakers from Mackey Arena is set for 7 p.m. (CT) with live television coverage from the Big Ten Network.