I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming.
I thought Nebraska had a chance to beat Purdue, but an 84-64 domination on the Boilers’ home court? I didn’t think the Husker offense had that performance in them against a very stingy Purdue squad.
Of course, when your point guard is, well, “on-point” then your offense is going to thrive. Hannah Whitish erupted for a season-high 28 points to go along with a career-high 12 assists for her first career double-double. She went 8 for 12 shooting from the field, including 6 of 10 from three point range and 6 for 6 for free throws (four of those coming on Purdue technical fouls.) She also grabbed five rebounds and three steals. Not a bad night at the office, eh?
Freshman Ashtyn Veerbeek just missed a double-double of her own by tying her career high with 14 points while adding nine rebounds, and fellow freshman Sam Haiby pitched in 13 points, including a career-high-tying three three-pointers, including a half-court runner to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter. Nicea Eliely gave Nebraska four players in double figures with 12 points, including 10 in the first 22 minutes.
Nebraska improved to 5-5 in the Big Ten with its third conference road win, while the Huskers moved to 10-11 overall behind the best offensive performance of conference play. The Boilermakers slipped to 15-8 overall and 6-4 in the league.
The Huskers were firing on all cylinders for most of the night, hitting a Big Ten season-best 49.3 percent from the field, including 40.7 percent (11-27) from three-point range. NU also knocked down 7-of-8 free throws (.875) and completely dominated the boards for 40 minutes, 41-25. The Huskers also won the turnover war, 11-10, despite full-court pressure for most of the night from the Boilermakers.
Purdue hit 41.1 percent (23-56) of its shots, including 38.9 percent (7-18) of its threes, while going 11-for-14 (.786) at the line.
Leigha Brown, Nebraska’s freshman from Auburn, Indiana, played well off the bench with seven points, three rebounds and two assists, while going 3-for-5 from the floor. Maddie Simon added four points, while Grace Mitchell contributed two points, four rebounds and a steal, as Nebraska’s bench poured in 40 points in the game.
Veerbeek was nearly as efficient as Whitish, going 7-for-12 from the floor, while Haiby went 5-for-7, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. She also dished out three assists. Eliely went 5-for-8, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, while adding four rebounds, two assists and a steal.
While the offensive performance was a treat for Husker fans, the defense assured it was the Huskers’ most complete overall game. Nebraska opened with their best defensive quarter of conference play by holding Purdue to just 6 points in the first 10 minutes to take an 18-6 lead to the second period. It marked the third straight game the Huskers held their opponent to single digits in the first period.
Two Good Things
Two Not So Good Things
- The rest of the conference schedule is a meat grinder. The Huskers will need more performances like the one in West Lafayette to make a run up the standings in the last half of the conference season.
- Nebraska’s offense played a complete enough game to overcome two combined points from sophomore starters Taylor Kissinger and Kate Cain. Kissinger was the only Husker to not get in the scoring column. Both are excellent players (and starters for a reason) so I don’t expect to see that again any time soon. It is nice to know the Huskers have the depth to still get “W”s even when some key players struggle to score. Cain made her presence known early by recording her two blocks in the first two minutes-ish of the game, It threw off the Boilers noticeably. Kissinger is one of the nation’s top three point shooters (by %) so you know games like this are an aberration for her.
Nebraska returns home to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday, as the Huskers play host to Indiana. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Hoosiers is set for 2 p.m.