The Husker women played hard for their seniors and sent them out with a 70-58 win vs Illinois. With the victory, Nebraska improved to 17-11 overall and 7-10 in the Big Ten. Illinois slipped to 11-16 overall and 2-14 in the conference.
Nebraska’s offense went wild with 56 points to tie for the 10th-best first-half total in school history, to carry a 56-27 lead to the halftime locker room. The Huskers buried 11-of-16 first-half threes just days after going 2-for-20 from long range at Ohio State in their previous game.
Brown did the most damage for the Huskers in the half, pumping in 17 points including 4-of-5 threes to tie a career high. Whitish added nine points on three first-half threes, while Ashtyn Veerbeek pitched in eight points including a pair of triples. Cain added eight points of her own on 4-of-5 shooting. She added five rebounds, two assists and two blocks on the afternoon.
In the half, Nebraska hit 63.6 percent (21-33) of its shots overall and went 3-for-4 at the line. The Huskers out-rebounded the Illini 19-10 and won the first-half turnover battle 5-2. Six Huskers had two or more assists in the half, including five from Sam Haiby, who finished with three points, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal.
Nebraska’s defense held Illinois to just 37 percent (10-27) shooting in the half, including 27.3 percent (3-11) from three-point range. Illinois did go 4-for-4 at the free throw line.
The Husker offense cooled off a bit in the third quarter and the Illini scored the first eight points of the half. After that, Nebraska hit the afterburners and, while not matching the sizzling stats of the first half, did continue to hit shots all over the floor.
In a scary moment for Husker fans, Kate Cain rolled an ankle and went to the locker room. It did not turn out to be serious as she returned to the game.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt and Amy Williams was able to rotate players and got all four seniors on the floor in the fourth quarter. After a stoppage in play, she sent in substitutions for all of them, allowing them to walk off the floor to a standing ovation.
Sophomore Leigha Brown scored 22 points to lead Nebraska. Fellow sophomore Ashtyn Veerbeek added a season-high 15 points. Nicea Eliely pitched in nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in a strong all-around effort, while fellow senior Grace Mitchell contributed four points.
Nebraska knocked down a season-high 13 three-pointers, including 11-for-16 long-range shooting in the first half, led by a career-high-matching four threes from Brown in the first half. Senior Hannah Whitish added 12 points on four three-pointers of her own, while adding a game-high seven assists to go along with five rebounds.
Nebraska will close Big Ten regular-season action at No. 24 Indiana on Thursday. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. (CT) in Bloomington, Ind., with live television coverage provided by the Big Ten Network.