Can Nebraska rebound from a difficult loss? Can they beat an improving Badger team for a second time this season?
The Huskers were hot from three-point range early with Ashtyn Verbeek and Hannah Whitish both hitting from long range. Kate Cain, of course, registered her first block in the early minutes.
At the under-5 timeout, the Huskers lead 11-8.
Isabelle Bourne got into the three-point party out of the timeout. The Badgers fought back and tied the game at 14 with under 2 1⁄2 minutes in the quarter. Nicea Eliely was fouled while shooting a three (with 8 seconds left). She hit two charity shots to put the Huskers up 20-16. The Husker defense broke down in transition and the Badgers hit a buzzer beater three (by a player who averages one point/game) to pull within one.
Nebraska 20 Wisconsin 19
This game is turning into “defense optional” quickly as both teams are running, jacking up shots and doing a fair bit of fouling. The Huskers built a six point cushion early in the quarter, but then the Badgers closed the game back down to two at 29-27 at 5:45.
The score remained 29-27 at the under-5 timeout.
The Husker offense is a discombobulated mess at times and defense doesn’t seem to be better. Leigha Brown was trying hard to manufacture some offense and hit a three and then was fouled while shooting. The Husker lead got out to five before (you guessed it) Wisconsin closed the gap. If the Huskers can start functioning like a team, they could pull away but the discombobulation is allowing the Badgers to gain confidence and hang around.
Halftime - Nebraska 38 Wisconsin 36
Ashtyn Verbeek picked up her third foul seconds into the quarter but Amy Williams left her post player in the game. If anything, the Husker offense appeared more out-of-sorts than they were in the first half.
Wisconsin tied the game at 43 (5:45 left in the quarter) and the Huskers responded by turning the ball over. The Badgers took their first lead after two free throws. The Badgers extended the lead to six after a three that just beat the shot clock and then they buried another three to grow the lead to nine.
The Huskers can’t play jungle ball much longer and hold on. They have to start working as a team, draw some fouls and get to the line. Hannah Whitish has uncharacteristically airballed a couple of threes.
End of third Q - Wisconsin 57 Nebraska 47. What looked like a shootout in the first quarter has turned into a defensive slog - and not one that favors the Huskers. Nebraska has some work to do in the final period.
Nebraska showed some grit (and some glimpses of an offense) and closed within four (59-55 AT 7:45) partly by continuing to draw fouls. Two Leigha Brown free throws got the Huskers within two at 6:27. A Kate Cain jumper tied the game at 61 (5:18)!!
The score stayed knotted up there for a while until a Badger free throw put them up by one as the clock rolled under four minutes. Leigha Brown is carrying this team right now and dialed up a layup and was fouled.
Wiscy scored some quick points to go back up 65-64. Izzy Bourne was fouled and hit one free throw and then a layup on the return trip to put Nebraska up 67-65 with 2:30.
Wisconsin jacked up another three as the shot clock was expiring to reclaim the lead at 68-65 with 1:20 left in the game. Izzy Bourne made a freshman mistake (unusual for her) in not guarding the shooter more tightly with so little time on the clock.
Ashtyn Verbeek returned the favor and put the Huskers up 70-68 with 50 seconds left.
The Huskers didn’t do anything with the possession except run the clock down and committed a shot clock violation (Whitish tried to lay it in but was blocked). With 12.6 seconds left, it was Wisconsin’s basketball.
HAIBY FORCED ANOTHER TURNOVER!!
She was then fouled with 5.3 seconds left and was nails - hitting both of her free throws to give the Huskers a two-possession lead.
Wisconsin hit a three at the clock expired but it wasn’t enough as the Huskers scrapped their way to a 72-71 win.
Nebraska’s sophomores came up big and at big times for a team that couldn’t get out of their own way most of the day.
Final - Nebraska 72 Wisconsin 71
Leigha Brown led Nebraska with 20 points while Ashtyn Verbeek, Sam Haiby and Kate Cain all contributed 11 points, putting four Huskers in double figures.
Kate Cain pulled down nine rebounds while Sam Haiby grabbed six. Isabelle Bourne and Verbeek cleaned the glass five times apiece.
Big Kate blocked three shots. She is now three stuffs away from tying the Husker career block record. Izzy Bourne blocked two shots of her own.
Sam Haiby was a thief with five steals and she also dished out three assists.
As a team, the Huskers only committed eight turnovers (mostly in the first half) and turned over the Badgers 11 times. The Huskers shot 33.8% from the field (the Badgers shot 38.2%) but were 26-30 from the line. This was the difference in the game as the Badgers shot well from the charity stripe too (12-16) but got far fewer trips to the charity stripe.
A trio of sophomores was HUGE for the Huskers as the offense was all kinds of ugly for most of the game and the defense looked out of sorts early. Leigha Brown manufactured points in every way she could while Sammy Haiby did a little of everything. Ashtyn Verbeek’s three point basket with a minute left put the Huskers in the driver’s seat.
Overall, a hard fought win on the road. The game was ugly, but it is hard to call a road win ugly. Nebraska has been in a bit of a funk the past few games and maybe this cleansed the system.
Great win! Go Big Red!