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Nebraska WBB Wins 72-61 vs Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament

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Next up is the conference champion Maryland Terrapins

Scott Bruhn

Minnesota is extremely shorthanded with three or so starters out (Powell, Scalia, and another one I didn’t catch). Of course, they have juggled so many starters this season, it is hard to know if that will be a disadvantage in reality. It sounds like they are down some subs as well.

On the flip side, the Huskers are getting healthier.

Also, Wisconsin has fired their WBB coach after being embarrassed by Illinois in the #12/#13 play in game on Tuesday.

First Quarter

Minnesota opened the scoring on their first possession but the Huskers answered with an Issie Bourne layup to tie the game at 2-2. Bourne picked up an early foul, hopefully that doesn’t turn out to be a problem later.

Both offenses went stagnant for a bit as turnovers and missed shots dominated. Minnesota broke the stalemate (4-2 Minn) but Sam Haiby hit from long range to give Nebraska their first lead (5-4 Neb). It didn’t last long as the Gophers hit another basket (6-5 Minn) at 6:58. Another Issie Bourne layup gave the Huskers back the lead (7-6 Neb) as the clock went under five minutes.

Neither team could find the basket for over two minutes but a basket by each (Cain for Nebraska) resulted in a 9-8 Husker lead at the media timeout (2:54). Annika Stewart, Whitney Brown and Bella Cravens entered the game for Nebraska. Brown quickly found Haiby for a layup but Minnesota hit their first three to tie the game at 11 (1:52). Sam Haiby started to take matters into her own hands, grabbed a steal and went up against four Gophers for the layup to take back the lead which was extended by a Kendall Coley bomb (assist by Whit Brown). Cravens gets credit for the steal that set up the Coley shot.

Nebraska 16 Minnesota 11

Second Quarter

Big Kate opened the scoring with a hook shot to give Nebraska an 18-11 lead. After some back and forth Nebraska maintained a six point lead (20-14 Neb). Whitney Brown has been seeing the court really well, but then committed a turnover (not really her fault as Bourne was being pushed and slipped) to give the ball back to the Gophers.

Two of the Gopher starters (post players) have two fouls apiece. This is an opportunity for the Huskers to heat up the inside game as Minnesota will need to be cautious on defense.

OR THEY CAN LET KENDALL COLEY HIT MORE BOMBS!! (23-14 Neb)

Issie Bourne picked up her second foul. Bugger. At least Nebraska has some subs to put in that situation (Cue Cravens). The Gopher scoring drought is nearing three minutes. Nebraska has gone cold too, but the defense is carrying them right now.

Two Haiby free throws gave Nebraska a double digit lead (25-14 Neb) and the Huskers will be at the line for every Minnesota foul for the next five minutes. Bella Cravens took Whit Brown Assist (off a Scoggin steal) in for two which was followed by a Cain basket to extend the Husker run to nine and lead to 15 (29-14 Neb). Timeout.

Whit Brown is up to five assists! She has really sparked the Husker offense.

The Gophers broke their scoring drought with two free throws but Nebraska answered with a Scoggin bomb (32-16 Neb). The teams traded missed three pointers (many missed threes) until Nebraska remembered they had an advantage in the paint and found Cain. Minnesota answered (34-18 Neb).

Two Cravens free throws extended the Husker lead (36-18) as the clock went under 1:30. After a Minnesota free throw, Haiby went coast to coast and Minnesota got the final points to end the half.

Nebraska 38 Minnesota 21

Sam Haiby has 11 points and Cain eight. Bourne and Coley each have six. Bourne and Haiby have four rebounds and Cain three. Whit Brown has five assists. Nebraska is shooting 44% from the floor while the Gophers are shooting 38%. Nebraska has outscored Minnesota in the paint 20-6 and the Husker bench has outscored the Gopher bench 10-1. In a stat we haven’t seen often this season, the Huskers have scored 14 points off turnovers while Minnesota has zero.

Third Quarter

The Huskers opened the scoring for the half (Cain; assist by Haiby) to put the 6-5 center into double figures. Minnesota answered (40-23 Neb). After a pile of missed baskets by both teams kept the game scoreless for almost four minutes while one of Minnesota’s starting posts picked up her third foul.

A foul on Cain gave Minnesota two free throws (40-25 Neb) to break the long dual scoring drought (12 missed shots by both teams). Cain made up for the foul with a quick putback basket (42-25 Neb) as the clock went under five minutes.

Haiby made two free throws after the timeout, which was answered by Minnesota (44-27 Neb). Bella Cravens has been unchracteristically blocked a couple of times this game. A Kendall Coley foul led to a new shot clock for Minnesota and they capitalized with a three (44-30 Neb) which was followed by a Husker turnover. Sigh. The Huskers have had poor fourth quarters lately and it appears they are geting an early start on that today. Minnesota has more energy than the Huskers right now.

Ruby Porter picked up two quick fouls and ended up down on the floor in a lot of pain, holding her left knee. This doesn’t look good.

A Bourne three was sanwiched by some Gopher free throws to maintain the 14 point Husker lead as the clock went under two minutes. Another Bourne three gave Nebraska more breathing room as the quarter ended.

Nebraska 50 Minnesota 35

Fourth Quarter

The Gophers opened scoring with two free throws but Sam Haiby hit from long range (53-37 Neb). Two more baskets by Nebraska (Cain and Bourne) extended the lead to 20 (57-37 Neb) forcing a Minnesota timeout. Brown continues to be the distributor extraordinaire for the Husker offense. The Gophers broke the 7-0 run by Nebraska out of a Gopher timeout but Nebraska answered (Scoggin). The points came fast and furious for a bit as each team showed urgency and hustle until the Gophers were able to get a couple of stops and steal forcing a Husker timeout at 5:05. The score was Nebraska 61 Minnesota 47 at the media timeout.

Amy Williams pep talk must have worked as Anni Stewart hit a big three out of the timeout. The Gophers answered with a two (64-49 Neb) as the clock went under four minutes. The Gophers continued to cut into the lead (67-54 Neb) but the clock was working against them as the scoreboard timer approached two minutes.

A basket by each team held the margin at 13 as the clock reached a minute. Bourne missed two free throws and Minnesota hit a quick basket to cut the lead to 11 (69-58 Neb). I don’t want to see Nebraska just hang on here, I want to see an aggressive team hitting the gas but it seems unlikely they’ll get that chance as Minnesota is in foul mode.

Garbage time.

Final. Nebraska 72 Minnesota 61

It is a good thing Nebraska held a 20 point lead with six minutes left as they needed a lot of that to fend off the late Gopher surge.

Stats and Observations

I’m expecting bad news when the team is able to update us about Ruby Porter and her knee injury. I hope I’m wrong. The freshman from Australia has been a solid contributor and pressed into service early due to injuries.

Three Huskers, the usual suspects, scored in double figures, Haiby (19), Cain (16) and Bourne (14). The team captains also led Nebraska in rebounds Haiby (8), Bourne (7) and Cain (6). Whitney Brown finished with six assists while Cravens, Scoggin and Haiby each had three. Kate Cain blocked two shots and Bella Cravens one.

The field goal % differential narrowed in the second half as the Huskers finished the game shooting 42% and Minnesota 38%. The Huskers were 8-18 from long range (44%) while Minnesota was 4-19 (21%). Nebraska committed only EIGHT turnovers in the game while the Gophers committed 11. Nebraska turned those TOs into 16 points while Minnesota only managed three. That stat is a huge difference in the game.

Next Game

The Huskers will be up early again tomorrow as they face the #1 (Big Ten) and #7 (AP) Maryland Terrapins.

Your reminder: Nebraska has never beaten Maryland in women’s basketball.

I don’t see how this inconsistent Husker team can pull off the upset vs the Terrapins tomorrow, but if they hit on all cylinders, it certainly isn’t impossible. We’ll be here tomorrow with a preview and game thread. Go Big Red!