Good news! Nebraska will have nine players available tonight with the addition of early enrollee Kendall Coley and return from injury of transfer guard Micole Cayton. Issie Bourne is still not available and Ruby Porter will again be starting in her place.
Illinois scored first to give the Illini a quick 2-0 lead and Nebraska turned it over on their first possession. Sam Haiby hit a three to give Nebraska their first points at the 8:16 mark. Illinois scored four straight points to grab a 6-3 lead. Sam Haiby hit another three to tie the game (6-6). Illinois is packing the paint and Haiby is making them pay.
Once Illinois gave Cain a bit of space she gave Nebraska the 8-6 lead as the clock went under five minutes and Ruby Porter hit a runner to extend the Husker lead to 10-6 going into the media timeout.
Micole Cayton came into the game for the Huskers for the first time this year. Annika Stewart was fouled and made her free throws (12-8 Neb). The Illini defense has turned up the pressure on the perimeter. Hopefully that leaves some room for Cain to work and Haiby to drive. Cayton was fouled and made her free throws (14-10 Neb). The score stayed there until the clock was under a minute when the Illini hit a three (14-13 Neb).
Nebraska was whistled for their first foul (Cain) with 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
End of the first quarter. Nebraska 14 Illinois 13
The second quarter started much like the first ended - with both offenses having a hard time getting going. Ruby Porter hit a three (17-13 Neb) to open the scoring in the second quarter. At this point, the Illini have committed six fouls and the Huskers one. Bella Cravens got in on the scoring with an assist from Haiby (19-13 Neb) at the 7:35 mark.
Out of the Illinois timeout, they scored four straight points (19-17 Neb) but then Ruby Porter hit a three, assisted by Cain (22-17 Neb). The score stayed at 22-17 at the media timeout.
Illinois scored five points to tie the game at 22 at 3:17. Amy Williams called a timeout.
The Illini scored four straight points out of the timeout to take the lead (26-22 ILL). The Husker offense is struggling. Sam Haiby was fouled and made both free throws (26-24 ILL). Bella Cravens committed her second foul with 1:23 left in the half and was replaced by Anni Stewart. Illinois hit one free throw (27-24 ILL).
The Huskers did not have a field goal in the final 5:42 of the quarter. Ouch.
Illinois 27 Nebraska 24
Sam Haiby and Ruby Porter have eight points apiece. Kate Cain has seven rebounds and Ashley Scoggin has four. Haiby has two assists, but has committed three turnovers.
The Huskers got a three pointer from Ruby Porter (27-27 tie), which was her third trey of the game and then Cain hit a jumper to take back the lead (29-27 Neb). Bella Cravens had two blocked shots to help Nebraska take the lead. Unfortunately Cain was called for her second and then third fouls in short order and was replaced by Anni Stewart. One free throw was good for Illinois (29-28 Neb). Sam Haiby added to the lead with her 9th and 10th points (31-28 Neb) but the Illini answered with a basket of their own (31-30 Neb) at 6:18. Anni Stewart gave the Huskers a three but then Illinois hit one of their own (34-33 Neb). Bella Cravens picked up her third foul before the media timeout. During the timeout, the Illinois score was adjusted as a three pointer was determined to be a two. Nebraska 34 Illinois 32
The Illini scored four points to take back the lead 36-34 at 3:51. Sam Haiby uncharacteristically missed two free throws. Annika Stewart was fouled, putting the Huskers into the bonus. She made one free throw (36-35 ILL). The Illini scored four quick points to extend their lead to 40-35. The Huskers need to start scoring some points - and soon. The Husker scoring drought isn’t as long (yet) as the one in the second quarter, but Nebraska hasn’t gotten a field goal in a very long time. Cain was fouled and made one free throw and the Huskers got the offensive rebound off the miss and finally got a field goal (Cravens).
At the end of the third quarter Illinois 40 Nebraska 38
Sam Haiby opened the quarter with a three to take back the lead (41-40 Neb) but Illinois answered with one of their own immediately (43-41 ILL) at 8:24. Bella Cravens picked up her fourth foul and was replaced by Annika Stewart. Sam Haiby was fouled and hit both of her free throws (44-43 ILL). Kate Cain got a block and then Annika Stewart hit back to back three pointers sandwiched around an Illinois basket (49-46 Neb) at the 6:42 mark. Illinois took a timeout.
After an Illini basket, the score was 49-48 Nebraska at the media timeout.
The teams traded baskets (51-50 Neb) and then they traded turnovers. The score stagnated there as both teams struggled with turnovers. Sam Haiby was fouled and hit both of her free throws (53-50 Neb) at 2:15. The score stayed there until Sam Haiby was fouled with 1:08. She made one free throw (54-50 Neb). The Illini immediately hit a three (54-53 Neb) with 51 seconds.
The Illini got possession of the ball with 15 seconds.
MICOLE CAYTON WITH THE STEAL!!
The Illini fouled her and she made one of the free throws (55-53 Neb) with 10 seconds left. The Huskers can foul three times without putting the Illini at the line and try to use up time.
SAM HAIBY WITH THE STEAL!!
The Illini fouled her with five seconds left in the game. Haiby made both free throws (57-53 Neb).
Final. Nebraska 57 Illinois 53.
Stats and Observations
Three Huskers scored in double figures. Sam Haiby had 22, Annika Stewart has 12 and Ruby Porter 11. Kate Cain pulled down 10 rebounds and added two assists. The Huskers blocked six shots - two each by Cain, Haiby, and Cravens.
The two steals by Cayton and Haiby in the final 15 seconds sealed the game for the Huskers. Cayton, in her first game in over two years (injuries) played 19 minutes. She had three points to go with that very important steal.
Annika Stewart’s back to back three pointers were also huge. The freshman has struggled at times with turnovers, but her offensive talent is evident.
The Huskers will host Wisconsin on Thursday, January 28. Tipoff will be at 7 pm.