Bella Cravens is likely still out as well (has missed three games I believe) as is Trinity Brady (who hasn’t played since the non-conference part of the schedule). Minnesota is also not healthy and will be missing a key player (Jasmine Powell, starting guard) and a couple of others will be dinged up.
Minnesota won the tip but turned the ball over, but then Nebraska returned the favor. The Gophers opened scoring behind a Kayla Mershon basket (2-0 MN). Ashley Scoggin answered with a three pointer (3-2 Neb) assisted by Issie Bourne. After some good offense (and offensive rebounds) by Nebraska, they came up empty handed and gave up a three pointer to Minnesota (5-3 MN). Issie Bourne picked up her first foul but the Gophers missed both free throws.
Ashley Scoggin hit a jumper to tie the game (5-5). She has all five Husker points thus far. Sara Scalia hit her second three for Minnesota (Nebraska might want to get more hands in her face!) and then Kate Cain hit a 16 footer (8-7 MN). Haiby and Bourne have both been a little flat on their shots, but hopefully they pull out of that soon. The score remained 8-7 in favor of the Gophers at the media timeout.
Both teams had a hard time finding the basket until 3:30 when Minnesota extended their lead (10-7 MN). The Huskers continue to struggle on offense. They are getting shots up but cannot get the ball to go in, until Bourne hit a layup at 1:59 to end a 3 minute scoring drought. Unfortunately Minnesota answered with a three (13-9 MN) and then turned Nebraska over and extended the lead (15-9 MN) as the clock went under a minute. Minnesota’s Sissoko (starting post) picked up her second foul.
I believe I have written this before, but SAM HAIBY BUZZER BEATER! Her 22 foot heave was good! In any situation where there is two seconds left...I want Haiby to have the ball. She delivers way more often than not. Maybe this will get her going for the game.
Minnesota 15 Nebraska 12
Minnesota opened the quarter with four straight points (19-12 MN) and Sam Haiby FINALLY got a foul call and made both her free throws (19-14 MN). Another MN starter picked up her second foul (Sam Haiby drew it). The Huskers are hurrying their shots and they don’t really need to and continue to miss shots.
After the teams traded baskets, Kate Cain picked up her second foul but stayed in the game. The Gophers made one free throw (22-16 MN). Sam Haiby cut into the lead with a three-pointer (22-19 MN). On the other end, Kate Cain got a block but no Huskers picked up the ball and the Gophers got the putback (24-19 MN).
Out of the media timeout the Huskers gave up a basket, but hit back to back three pointers from freshmen (Kendall Coley and Annika Stewart) to cut the lead to one (26-25 MN). A Gopher free throw was followed by two Huskers free throws (Ruby Porter) to tie the game at 27. Unfortunately, Sam Haiby picked up her second foul as the clock went under two minutes which gave Minnesota two free throws (29-27 MN). After trading missed baskets, Anni Stewart hit a big three pointer to give Nebraska the 30-29 lead at 1:08 but the Gophers got it back before the half.
Minnesota 31 Nebraska 30
Sam Haiby has eight points and Annika Stewart six to lead scoring for the Huskers. Isabelle Bourne has five rebounds. Both Bourne and Kate Cain each have a block. Bourne and Haiby each have two assists. Despite my prediction, the Huskers are being outscored in the paint 14-4. A lot of Minnesota’s points are not coming out of their set offense, but out of hustle plays in picking up loose balls. If Nebraska can pick up the intensity (and get Issie Bourne going) they still have a great shot at winning this game.
Two Husker starters (Bourne and Scoggin) picked up their second fouls in the first minute of the half and a Gopher starter picked up her third. The game continued much as the first half in that the Gophers are hustling more after loose balls and Nebraska is having trouble hitting shots. Minnesota scored first but Scoggin answered with a pair of free throws (33-32 MN). The Huskers are out of sorts on both offense and defense - I am not certain how they are playing the Gophers this close so far.
It was bound to catch up with Nebraska and the next sequence did. After a couple of Husker turnovers, the Gophers extended their lead culminating in Porter fouling a three point shooter (the shot went in) forcing a Husker timeout with Minnesota leading 38-32 and a pending free throw (which was good).
A Bourne layup cut into the lead (39-34 MN) and the Husker defense forced a turnover but the Huskers could not capitalize as Bourne picked up her third foul going for her own miss. The teams traded baskets, but Minnesota looks like the team that wants this win more right now. After the free throws the score was 45-39 MN. Amy Williams decided to send a message to her team and sent out players who haven’t been tentative.
Anni Stewart answered the call with five quick points (but gave up four points on defense in the meantime). Whit Brown attacked the rim and got herself some points which was followed by a defensive stop and Haiby free throws to cut the lead to one (49-48 MN) at 1:51. After giving up a basket, Kendall Coley hit a big three to tie the game at 51 and Cain blocked the potential buzzer beater by Minnesota (but it wasn’t credited as such in the stats).
Nebraska 51 Minnesota 51
Reminder: Coley should be playing high school basketball right now. She is growing by leaps and bounds and looks every bit the Top-50 recruit she was rated.
Let’s hope the offensive momentum Nebraska gained at the end of the third continues.
The effort was there for Nebraska, but they came up empty despite three chances at the basket. The teams traded baskets and three point plays maintained the tie at 56 at 7:51. The Huskers appear to be gaining a bit of energy (fingers crossed) forcing a Minnesota timeout.
The offensive woes came back as Nebraska gave up six straight points out of the Gopher timeout (62-56 MN) and continued to miss shots. To make matters worse, Sam Haiby picked up her third foul. She atoned for the foul by hitting a runner (62-58 MN) at 4:57. Issie Bourne was fouled and hit one of two free throws (the Huskers’ first free throw miss of the game!) which was followed by a Bourne defensive rebound and Haiby layup. She was fouled and made the free throw to tie the game back up at 62 at 3:24.
Nebraska answered the Gopher six point run with one of their own.
Damn. Bourne just picked up her fourth foul, leading to a Gopher basket. She has had two very questionable foul calls against her. Those unfortunate calls continued as Bourne was pushed and was instead given a turnover. That resulted in a Minnesota basket to extend the lead to four (66-62 MN) at 1:48.
A Sam Haiby steal led to her being fouled and making one free throw (66-63 MN) but the Gophers hit a shot to beat the shot clock (68-63 MN) with one minute left. The Huskers are in a three minute scoring drought (field goals).
All that is left for Nebraska is to foul - which did not go well. The score was 70-63 (MN) with 44 seconds and then 72-63 with 33 seconds...and then 73-63 with 20 seconds...
Final. Minnesota 73 Nebraska 63
Stats and Observations
The Huskers should have won this game. Full stop. They needed this game.
Nebraska was playing good basketball and Minnesota is a middling team who was missing a key player and playing others who were hurt. To be fair, Nebraska was without Bella Cravens, who would have likely made a big difference inside.
This will greatly hurt any chance Nebraska has for a NCAA bid (they didn’t have a great shot anyway) and could be the reason they play a day earlier in the Big Ten Tournament.
Sam Haiby and Annika Stewart were the only Huskers in double figures. Unfortunately for Stewart, she gave up as many points as she scored (I can’t verify that for sure; it just seemed that way). Issie Bourne had a hangover of sorts after being named the Big Ten player of the week but grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Huskers and scored seven points. Sam Haiby had six assists.
The Huskers shot 36% from the field and allowed Minnesota to shoot 46%.
From the preview:
As a team, Minnesota is averaging 69.2 points while allowing 80.3 points per game. The Gophers carry a minus-1.5 rebound margin and a minus-2.5 turnover margin, while shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three-point range. Opponents are shooting 46.9 percent, including 37.7 percent against the Gophers. The opposition also has hit 78.1 percent of its free throws.
Just like Nebraska had Northwestern’s number this year...Minnesota had Nebraska’s.
The Huskers host Michigan State Saturday, February 27. Tipoff is at 1 pm.