Three or four weeks ago, this was a game I pegged as a sure loss for the Huskers. The Spartans were ranked and even though Nebraska was winning, those were coming against a less-than-stellar schedule. Even so, this one was hard to swallow as a bullshit foul call on Isabelle Bourne at the end of regulation allowed Michigan State to tie the game (two free throws) with 2 seconds left. The Spartans got hot in overtime and ran away with an eight point win 78-70.
An equally frustrating call prior to that was awarding MSU the ball after it was clearly knocked out of bounds by the Spartans. The only thing I can think of was that MSU was awarded a timeout despite having dubious claim on possession of the ball. No explanation was given and the announcers seemed as surprised as me when the Spartans were allowed to inbound the ball.
The Huskers fall to 11-2 and 1-1 in Big Ten play while the Spartans improved to 8-5 and 1-1 in the B1G.
Even though I’m fuming about the foul call, the Huskers had plenty of chances to avoid this fate as they gave up a nine point lead early in the fourth quarter to end up in overtime. The Huskers were disjointed offensively and gave up way too many second-chances to Michigan State by allowing the Spartans to clean up too many offensive rebounds.
Sam Haiby had the hot hand early with 15 points in the first half. Kate Cain was her usual self and registered double-double in addition to moving into second place on the Nebraska career shot block list (four blocks today).
Nebraska used a big 10-0 run midway through the first quarter to take control after trailing the Spartans 8-4 early. Haiby and freshman Trinity Brady were the keys to the burst, with Brady getting two points, two steals and a big defensive rebound while Haiby added a steal and back-to-back three-point plays.
Haiby finished with eight in the first quarter to shoot Nebraska to a 20-12 lead, before adding seven in the second period to send the Huskers to the halftime locker room with a 29-23 edge. Haiby finished with 15 points in the half and went 6-for-6 from the field including NU’s only three-pointer, while hitting both her free throws. She added three assists, three steals and a rebound in the half. In the first half, Michigan State held a 20-17 edge on the boards but trailed 29-23 on the scoreboard.
The Huskers quickly pushed the lead to 10 points on their first two possessions of the second half, taking a 33-23 lead with 9:18 left in the third quarter, but McCutcheon’s three-pointer with 1:41 left in the third cut the NU lead to 41-40. Nebraska shut out the Spartans the rest of the quarter and maintained its six-point advantage at the end of the period (46-40).
Husker senior Hannah Whitish capped an 8-0 run with Nebraska’s only three-pointer of the second half to give Nebraska a 49-40 lead with 9:17 left in regulation. A layup by Nicea Eliely, who finished with 14 points, kept NU’s margin at nine (51-42), before the Spartans erupted on a 10-0 run over the next 3:24 to take a 52-51 lead with 5:06 left on a Kayla Belles three-point play. Belles finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans.
The two teams were in a dogfight for the rest of regulation, as the Huskers regained a 53-52 lead on an Ashtyn Veerbeek short-corner jumper with 3:53 left. Kate Cain, who notched her second straight double-double and 10th of her career with 10 points and 14 rebounds, scored to give Nebraska 55-53 lead with 3:03 left, before another Eliely layup put the Big Red up 57-54 with 1:26 left.
However, Nia Clouden’s three-pointer with 57 seconds left tied the game at 57.
Haiby hit a free throw with 37.1 left to put Nebraska back up by one, before Brown added a free throw with 15.7 left to give Nebraska a 59-57 lead. Brown finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. Both teams missed four free throws in the fourth quarter.
The Huskers played solid defense and the Spartans were in a scramble on the floor before the ball rolled out of bounds off NU with 3.8 seconds. On the ensuing sideline out-of-bounds throw-in, NU’s Isabelle Bourne deflected the pass and dove after the ball in the corner with MSU’s Tory Ozment. Bourne was called for a loose-ball foul with 2.2 seconds left, sending the 90 percent free throw shooter Ozment to the line. Ozment tied the game by hitting both free throws to send it to overtime.
For the game, Nebraska hit 42.6 percent (26-61) of its shots from the field but just 2-for-17 threes (.118). The Huskers also hit just 61.5 percent (16-26) of their free throws. Nebraska did win the turnover battle 19-18 and outscored MSU 20-11 in points off turnovers in the game.
Michigan State hit just 37.5 percent (27-72) of its shots, but hit 7-of-20 threes (.350) including 6-of-15 in the second half. The Spartans also hit 17-of-25 free throws, including 6-of-7 in OT. MSU outscored Nebraska 22-9 in second-chance points.
Nebraska returns home Saturday to play host to No. 24 Minnesota. Tip-off between the Huskers and the Golden Gophers on Saturday is set for 5 p.m. The game will be televised live by BTN with a radio broadcast by the Learfield IMG College Husker Sports Network.