Wisconsin found the basket first (free throws) to take a 2-0 lead but Sam Haiby answered to tie it 2-2. The first five minutes were a slog as the Badgers eked out a 7-6 lead at the media timeout. Wisconsin is getting to the free throw line early and making their free throws.
The Huskers came alive after the media timeout, especially Sam Haiby and Ruby Porter, and took a 20-11 lead on a buzzer beater shot by Sam Haiby. She has nine points in the first quarter. Annika Stewart and MiCole Cayton are both giving the Huskers some really good minutes from the bench.
Nebraska 20 Wisconsin 11
Ruby Porter continued her excellent shooting and opened scoring in the second quarter to give Nebraska a 22-11 lead. The teams traded baskets but then the Huskers were all over the Badgers and Wisconsin was forced to take a timeout when the Huskers ran the lead out to 28-13.
Kate Cain picked up her second foul about four minutes into the second quarter and was replaced by Annika Stewart. Stewart has been an impressive offensive player from the start but has struggled with turnovers and being out of position (and getting called for fouls) on defense but she has really started to clean up her game and show the kind of player she is capable of being.
The Nebraska lead grew to 13 (30-19 Neb) but the Badgers cut into it with a 6-0 run. Bella Cravens started the Huskers on a 8-0 run to take a 38-23 lead with two minutes left in the half. The Badgers managed four more points and Nebraska five to make the score at half Nebraska 43 Wisconsin 27.
Kendall Coley entered the game with 45 second left in the half. The early enrollee freshman is a welcome presence at 6’2” on the wing.
Haiby has 18 points and freshman Ruby Porter and Annika Stewart have 10 and six respectively. As expected Cain and Cravens are pulling down the rebounds with seven and five apiece. Bella Cravens has always been tough on the boards, but she seems to be gaining more and more confidence in her ability to play in the Big Ten (she transferred from Eastern Washington) and doesn’t back down from anyone.
Cain and Cravens each have a block, Porter has two steals and Ashley Scoggin has two assists (but also two turnovers). Scoggins’ two turnover are the ONLY turnovers of the half for Nebraska. That is excellent.
The Badgers got the first points of the half (43-29 Neb) but Kate Cain scored four straight points (47-29 Neb). Bella Cravens did some work in rebounding on that sequence and then got a basket of her own to extend the Husker lead to 20 (49-29). The teams traded baskets for a couple of minutes with Nebraska gaining ground with a three-pointer by Stewart while the Badger baskets were two-pointers. Kate Cain is now in double figures in scoring and closing in on a double-double with eight rebounds.
Kate Cain picked up her third foul and was replaced by Bella Cravens who immediately picked up her second blocked shot. At the media timeout, the Huskers held a 55-37 lead. Cravens is in full beast mode on defense.
The score stagnated at 55-37 for a couple minutes until Bella Cravens got an old-fashioned three point play (58-37 Neb). She is now entering beast mode on the offensive side of the ball too. She seems to relish contact and works harder than just about any player I’ve seen. The Wisconsin scoring drought was finally broken by two free throws but then Nebraska got a three pointer from Whit Brown (61-39 Neb). MiCole Cayton has shown she can put the defensive clamps down in the backcourt - something the Huskers have missed a bit since Trinity Brady was injured. She is also (arguably) the best passer the Huskers have right now.
Whit Brown decided to take an encore and hit another three (64-41 Neb). Wiscy cut the lead to 20 and the margin stayed there as the Huskers held for the final shot of the quarter (66-46 Neb). They could not convert on the possession.
Nebraska 66 Wisconsin 46
Early enrollee Kendall Coley started the quarter. It is a good time to get playing time for the freshman who has only been with the program for about 10 days (I think). The teams traded baskets to start the quarter (68-48 Neb). At this point of the game, both Cain and Cravens have three blocks. Those two feed off each other down low. Bella’s bulldog mentality on rebounds allows Kate to focus on shot blocking and Bella’s defensive abilities allow Kate to get herself in position for a rebound (because she doesn’t need to slide over and help).
Annika Stewart got in on the block party and the Huskers scored six straight points (Porter, Haiby and Stewart) for a 74-48 Husker lead. Nebraska now has four players in double figures (Haiby, Cain, Porter and Stewart) at 7:33.
Shortly after that, both Annika Stewart and Kate Cain picked up their fourth fouls. Nebraska brought in Bella Cravens for Cain, but let Stewart play with the fouls. Sam Haiby picked up her third foul. It is a really good thing the Huskers have nine players instead of seven available. They may need the bodies. After some back and forth, the score was 78-55 with Bella Cravens earning her first double-double as a Husker.
The Badgers went on a run to cut the Husker lead to 18 and the score at the media timeout was Nebraska 78 Wisconsin 60.
I wasn’t expecting a game this high-scoring, but as long as Nebraska continues to put in more points than Wisconsin, I’ll take it. Bella Cravens picked up her third foul and the Wiscy free throws cut the lead further (78-62 Neb). The Huskers got sloppy and committed turnovers and Wiscy capitalized to score more (78-64 Neb).
Sam Haiby committed her fourth foul at 3:15. This is getting much yuckier for Nebraska than anyone would like. She didn’t let it get in the way of the offense as she went to the rack and was fouled. She made the free throws and then made a jumper on the next possession to give Nebraska a 82-64 lead with 2:10 left. Kate Cain registered her sixth block of the game. She has a double-double in points-rebounds but may not have enough time to get four more blocks for the triple-double.
Garbage time didn’t feel very safe, as a lead that was once 26 points was whittled down to 16 points. Kate Cain fouled out with 30 seconds left.
Final Nebraska 84 Wisconsin 68
Statistics and Overall Thoughts
This game was not what I expected. A bad team like Wisconsin should not have been able to score 68 points. It was good to see Nebraska score 84 points, but the sloppiness of the fourth quarter took a little luster off that.
Five Huskers scored in double figures - Sam Haiby (24), Kate Cain (16), Ruby Porter and Bella Cravens (13) and Ruby Porter (12). Cravens pulled down 11 rebounds and Cain 10.
Sam Haiby had five assists and MiCole Cayton had four. The Huskers blocked 10 shots with Cain getting six, Cravens three and Stewart one.
MiCole Cayton has shown her chops on defense, and hopefully the offense will come for her soon. She is playing enough minutes now that you want to see some scoring as well.
Nebraska shot 54% from the field but only 24% from three point land. Nebraska got outrebounded by Wiscy 41-37. The Huskers held the Badgers to 34% shooting (25% from the three point line). After a hot start from the free throw line, Wisconsin ended up 69% on charity shots while the Huskers were at 85%.
This wasn’t a pretty game, but Nebraska put away a bad team and has a week to rest and get their shiny new freshman acclimated to the game. It was a game the Huskers needed to win decisively and they did (for the most part).
The Huskers travel to take on Penn State on Thursday, February 4. Tipoff will be at 5:00 pm central.