I expected this to be a low scoring game and it sure seems to be. At the 6:01 mark Rutgers held a 5-4 lead. Nebraska took their first lead at 6-5 behind a Bella Cravens layup but then the Huskers gave up two quick layups. Rutgers also forced a shot clock violation on Nebraska - I’m sure it won’t be the last one of the game. The score was 9-6 at the media timeout with Cravens pacing the Huskers with four points and Sam Haiby with the other two.
Seven Huskers have already seen the floor and Rutgers, as expected, has really turned the screws to the Huskers in the full court press. The Scarlet Knights lead the nation in steals. Issie Bourne escaped for a leak out layup and Nebraska’s defense forced a shot clock violation. With two minutes left in the quarter, Rutgers is leading 11-8.
Issie Bourne got a dish from Bella Cravens to bring the Huskers within one (11-10). Rutgers answered with under a minute left in the quarter to lead 13-10. An end-of-quarter shot by Cravens cut the Rutgers lead to one (13-12). Cravens has been carrying the Husker offense - scoring half the points. Bourne has four points and Haiby two.
Annika Stewart and Cravens each have a block. Cravens also has five rebounds and Whitney Brown has two assists.
Rutgers struck first in the second quarter, going up 15-12. The teams traded baskets and behind some really solid defense by Kate Cain, Nebraska one-upped the Knights with Sam Haiby breaking through to reduce the lead to one (17-16). The score stagnated there for several minutes. The Scarlet Knights have missed several layups - a sign that the Husker defense is playing really well. Issie Bourne even defended two Knights on a fast break, forced the missed layup and drew a foul.
Rutgers committed three fouls in 15 seconds of game time - putting Nebraska in the bonus for the rest of the quarter (over five minutes left). Nebraska took a 18-17 lead behind a Bourne basket (Haiby assist). And that remained the score at the media timeout.
Nebraska has held Rutgers’ outstanding guard, Arella Guirantes, to zero points so far. All eight available Huskers (Brady and Cayton are still out) have played at least four minutes so far.
The Huskers and Knights went back and forth in the lead. Nebraska has been working really hard on both ends of the floor. Their persistence paid off as a Haiby jumper with four seconds left gave the Huskers a one point lead going into the half.
Nebraska 24 Rutgers 23
Issie Bourne has eight points, Bella Cravens six and Sam Haiby six. Bourne and Cravens each have six rebounds. Kate Cain has four points, three rebounds a block and a steal. Stewart and Cravens have the other two blocks for Nebraska.
As usual in this game, the lead went back and forth with Rutgers holding a 27-26 lead three minutes into the quarter and Nebraska took it back at 29-27 in short order (a Sam Haiby three point play).
Ashley Scoggin decided to make the Rutgers defense pay attention to her by hitting back to back threes to give Nebraska a six point lead (35-29) at the media timeout. In a game between these two teams, six points feels like a really big lead.
The Huskers are holding one of the top shooting teams (%-wise) in the country to under 30%.
Whit Brown decided to get in on the long shot party by hitting a three and giving Nebraska a nine point lead. Rutgers answered with six straight points (38-35 Nebraska) as the clock went under three minutes in the quarter. I guess a six point lead isn’t as big as it seemed at first.
Sam Haiby became the first Husker in double figures as a free throw gave her 10 points and Nebraska a four point lead (39-35). Rutgers hit a three pointer immediately to close within one. At the end of the quarter, Rutgers took the lead back (40-39) in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Rutgers scored first in the quarter to take a 42-39 lead. One of Rutgers players picked up her fourth foul. A Bourne free throw was followed by another Rutgers layup (44-40). Bella Cravens picked up her 11th rebound and it was followed by another Scoggin three pointer and a Haiby basket for Nebraska to take back the lead at 45-44. (This is the 11th lead change of the game).
Sammy followed it with another to give Nebraska a 47-44 lead, forcing a Rutgers timeout. Issie Bourne is nearing her second consecutive double double with 11 rebounds and nine points.
The Husker held Rutgers at 44 until the midway point of the quarter when they finally got a layup. A Cain block helped force a shot clock violation on Rutgers. The Huskers maintained a 49-46 lead as the clock went under four minutes in the game.
Bourne did get the double double as she scored the next basket (11 points for Issie) and Rutgers answered immediately. Nebraska 51 Rutgers 48.
Rutgers got the next basket as the clock went under two minutes to close within one at 51-50. The score stayed there as the clock went under a minute. Kate Cain registered a big block to maintain that score but Rutgers managed to maintain possession. Issie Bourne’s magnificent defense and a big rebound by Cain gave Nebraska the possession with 18 seconds. An Amy Williams timeout allowed Nebraska to advance the ball, avoiding a potential 10 second call from that stifling Rutgers press.
Ashley Scoggin went to the line with 12 seconds left. She made the first - and the second to give Nebraska a 53-50 lead. Rutgers missed their three pointer and THE HUSKERS WIN!! Rutgers was receiving votes in college basketball polls so this is a great win for Nebraska.
Final: Nebraska 53 Rutgers 50
The defense was LOCKDOWN. They held the Knights 35 points below their scoring average for the season. WOW. Rutgers is known for great defense and the Huskers said, “Well watch this”. Nebraska held Arella Guirantes, the reigning Big Ten scoring leader, to 17 points below her average (she scored eight today). The credit for that goes to Sam Haiby early in the game (Guirantes went 0-fer while Sammy was on her) and Issie Bourne (who was amazing) through most of the game.
Three Huskers scored in double figures - Haiby with 16; Bourne with 11 and Scoggin with 11. Sam Haiby deserves a great deal of credit for driving the lane as often as she did against a team like Rutgers. That takes confidence and a willingness to get knocked down a few times. Kate Cain had four points, seven rebounds, two blocks, an assist and a steal - while only committing one foul.
Issie Bourne registered a double double with 11 points, 12 rebounds. She added four assists. With Trinity Brady out and Bella Cravens in the starting lineup, Bourne has had to play more of a guard/forward hybrid role and she has proven to be more than equal to the task. Her athleticism and basketball IQ really show with this increased responsibility. Ashley Scoggin deserves a shoutout for her big three pointers and for sealing the game at the end with two clutch free throws. Annika Stewart is the only Husker who didn’t score, but she played some really good defense.
Bella Cravens scored all six of her points in the first quarter, forcing Rutgers to collapse more to the paint, opening up some outside shots for the guards. Cravens also pulled down 13 rebounds and was also magnificent on defense.
The Huskers travel to Michigan for a January 7 matchup with the Wolverines. Tipoff will be at 5 pm central and the game will be on BTN+.
Coach Williams’ Post-Game Remarks
Haiby’s Post-Game Remarks
Bourne’s Post-Game Remarks