That stalwart defensive effort we’ve come to expect from Nebraska seems to have vanished in the past few games. It is possible that other teams’ scouting has caught up with the Huskers and are finding cracks in the brick wall. Nebraska battled back from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to take a four-point fourth-quarter lead, but Penn State made the plays and the free throws down the stretch to hand the Huskers an 85-74 loss. Nebraska is now 9-6 overall and 7-5 in the Big Ten.
The Huskers scored first but the Lady Lions scored eight straight points before Bella Cravens and Kate Cain hit back to back baskets to cut the lead to 8-6 Penn State at 5:14 and it stayed there for the media timeout. Kate Cain has four of the Husker points.
Issie Bourne entered the game for the Huskers. It is good the see the sophomore team captain back on the floor after missing five games.
Penn State outworked the Huskers and ended the quarter with a 20-12 lead.
The Huskers opened the quarter with back to back three pointers (Scoggin and Brown) to cut the Lion lead to two (20-18) at 9:32. Penn State answered and held a 5-7 point lead through most of the quarter with a 36-31 Lion lead at the media timeout.
Nebraska clawed back within two (42-40) with an Issie Bourne layup with 57 seconds left in the half. But the Huskers gave up an easy layup to end the half.
Penn State 44 Nebraska 40
Kate Cain has nine points and Sam Haiby has five. Sam Haiby and Isabelle Bourne have five and six rebounds each. Ruby Porter has three assists.
The Huskers absolutely could not get a shot to go in until a Sam Haiby fast break layup at 7:48. At that point the Lions held a 48-42 lead. Kate Cain seemed to be everywhere for the Huskers for several minutes as she was scoring, rebounding, blocking shots and drawing fouls. She is the most consistent presence for Nebraska right now.
At the media timeout, the Huskers trailed 51-50.
After the timeout, a Kate Cain layup gave Nebraska their first lead since the early minutes of the game (52-51 Neb). The lead would grow to as much as three (a lot of Kate Cain in the paint) before Penn State got some late points.
End of the quarter. Penn State 59 Nebraska 58
Neither team found the basket for the first minute until Whitney Brown hit a three to give Nebraka a 61-59 lead. The scoring pace slowed considerably but Nebraska was able to grow their lead to 63-59 at 7:52. Both teams went back and forth with the scoring and making defensive plays. At the media timeout, the score was tied at 66-66.
Cain, Haiby and Bourne all hit baskets to keep the slugfest going and with 3:13 left in the game, the Huskers held a tenuous 71-70 lead.
Unfortunately for the Huskers, they would not score another point until there were 46 seconds left (a three pointer by Ashley Scoggin). At that point, Penn State held a 79-74 lead. The Huskers fouled to get the Lions to the line and Penn State delivered, going 8-8 at the free throw line in the final minute.
Final. Penn State 85 Nebraska 74
Stats and Overall Thoughts
Kate Cain led the Huskers with 21 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Ashley Scoggin added 11 points and hit three three-pointers, while Sam Haiby put three Huskers in double figures with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Whitney Brown added a trio of three-pointers to finish with nine points, and Isabelle Bourne returned to the court for the first time in five games with nine points and nine rebounds off the bench.
Nebraska out-shot Penn State on the night, hitting 30-of-72 field goals (.417), including a season-high 10 three-pointers (10-27) despite going without a made three in the first quarter. Penn State hit just 25-of-67 shots (.373), including 9-of-30 threes (.300), but out-rebounded Nebraska 50-41 and won the turnover battle, 12-9.
But the biggest difference in the game came at the free throw line, where the Lady Lions went 26-of-32 (.813), while Nebraska went just 4-of-12 (.333).
Nebraska will travel to Rutgers on Sunday (Feb 7). Tip-off for the Huskers and Scarlet Knights is set for 1 p.m. (CT) at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The Scarlet Knights have not played since suffering a 53-50 loss to the Huskers in Lincoln on Jan. 3.