These teams have not met since 2011 when they both left the Big 12. The Buffaloes have depth - something Nebraska did not see in their first round game vs UT Martin. Both teams hang their hat on playing tough defense and a balanced scoring attack. Which team will make a few more hustle plays than the other? We will know soon.
The starters for Nebraska - Cain, Haiby, Cravens, Bourne and Scoggin. The Huskers are back to the bigger lineup to match up with the Buffs.
Isabelle Bourne opened scoring for the game with a jumper about a minute in, but the Buffs answered on their next possession to tie the game at two. Bella Cravens has been extremely active on defense already and was fouled on offense. She made one of her two free throws to give Nebraska a 3-2 lead. It already appears that points may be at a premium in this game. Colorado has comitted three fouls to zero for Nebraska in the first three minutes.
Colorado is not a great three point team, but they do have one good three point shooter and she hit one early...and then I need to eat my words as they hit another shortly after that. Nebraska is making a concerted effort to work the ball into the paint as Bourne and Cain both are getting their points. The game was tied at 10 midway through the first quarter. The Buffs hit another couple long range shots and the score was 16-12 Colorado at the media timeout.
Out of the break, Nebraska turnovers led to a six point CU run to extend the lead to ten (22-12 Buffs) as the clock went under one minute. Sam Haiby decided she was not going to suffer a repeat of the first round game and scored five points to close the quarter.
Colorado 22 Nebraska 17
Haiby continued her scoring run to start the next frame to get the Huskers within three (22-19 Buffs). Colorado’s best player picked up her second foul early in the second Q - this is GOOD for Nebraska! Bella Cravens drew the offensive foul and has been critical in rebounding and very active on offense.
A second Colorado starter (their leading scorer I believe) picked up her second foul. Nebraska needs to take advantage NOW while about 50% of the Buff offense is on the bench for the next seven minutes.
As the clock went under seven minutes, the Huskers were within one point (24-23 CU). Nebraska’s early enrollee freshman Kendall Coley is significantly impacting this game right now, especially on defense. After two CU free throws, the score was 26-23 in favor of Colorado at the media timeout.
Even with a significant portion of Colorado’s offense on the bench with foul trouble, Nebraska could not capitalize as they went down by seven (30-23 CU) until Cain found the bucket with less than three minutes in the half (30-25 CU). Kate Cain picked up her second foul with around two minutes left in the half (the radio guys are convinced the call was made on the wrong player). So far, this second quarter is living up to the billing as a defensive slog as the offensive production has slowed considerably. Two Husker three pointers (Cayton and Stewart) sandwiched around a Buffalo normal basket brought the Huskers within two (33-31 CU).
Halftime. Colorado 34 Nebraska 31
Kate Cain leads Nebraska with eight points, Haiby has seven and Cravens six. Bella is her usual self in terms of rebounds and leads the team with five; Cain has three. Bella also has a blocked shot and Issie Bourne has four assists.
The stats are fairly similar between both of these teams. Nebraska seems to be rushing their offense more and missing just a tick more than Colorado. The Buffaloes will get two of their better players back to start the third quarter (foul trouble) but sitting for a while could make them vulnerable to some Nebraska drives and increase the foul trouble?
A not-good three point shooting team (Colorado) opened the half with a long range bomb (their fifth, I believe). But YAY! the Buffaloes best player picked up her third foul a minute into the half. She is guarding Kate Cain - the Huskers need to continue to feed Big Kate.
A Husker scoring flurry (Cain and Haiby mostly) gave Nebraska a lead (38-37 Neb) at 7:38 in the third quarter. But then Kate Cain is called for her third foul. Sigh. So much for my preferred strategy. Anni Stewart replaces Kate. A CU jumper gave them the lead back, but then both teams played to a stalemate for a couple of minutes (39-38 CU).
For some reason, whenever I see that an opposing team is not-good at three pointers I know that they will be really good at hitting them vs Nebraska (and the Huskers are a very good defensive team all round)? The Buffs extended the lead but then Nebraska fought back (44-42 CU) at the media timeout.
Colorado is trying really hard to pressure Nebraska with a full court press and put pressure on any way they can. I actually like this - the Huskers may be inconsistent, but they handle pressure well. Anni Stewart took up the challenge and hit a three to bring Nebraska within one (46-45 CU) and then COLORADO’S BEST PLAYER PICKED UP HER FOURTH FOUL. SIT DOWN!!
End of third quarter. Colorado 50 Nebraska 47
Ashley Scoggin is a streaky shooer, but hasn’t scored yet this game. Hopefully Nebraska can get her on track, especially with her long shot.
Colorado opened the scoring for the quarter to get a five point lead (54-49 CU). The score stayed there for a while - but unfortunately for Nebraska it was the Buffs that hit again (this time a three) to open up an eight point lead (57-49 CU). This forced a Husker timeout at 8:15. Again, this comes with the Buffs’ best player on the bench with foul trouble.
Colorado extended their lead to 10 but Nebraska needed someone to make a play and Ashley Scoggin did (59-51 CU) with six minutes left. Kate Cain picked up her fourth foul. Bugger.
After some more game action the deficit grew to 10 (63-53 CU). The Huskers are in real danger of seeing their season end as the game clock showed 4:36. The teams traded basketsin the next minute - which doesn’t help Nebraska at all.
Colorado’s best player fouled out at 3:23, but her absencse has not been an issue so far. Nebraska is going to have to get to the free throw line and hit three pointers (but that is a long shot). THE HUSKERS ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE down (68-57 CU) with 2:40 left. These fourth quarter scoring droughts have been a problem for Nebraska for the past several games.
Colorado committed some fouls and put Nebraska at the line. Bella Cravens hit two (68-59 CU) at 2:32. Nebraska timeout. Colorado timeout (Nebraska’s defense forced it). The Huskers scored four quick points - SAM HAIBY! SAM HAIBY! to make this game much more possible (68-63 CU)!!! Then Sammy forced a shot clock violation to give Nebraska the ball with 1:40 left. Nebraska has turned on the press...
OMG! OMG! The Huskers are within three (69-66 CU) with 59 seconds left!!! MiCole Cayton hit a BIG BIG BIG three pointer. Two Buffalo free throws extended the lead to 71-66 with 50 seconds. Timeout Nebraska to advance the ball...MiCole Cayton got fouled but missed both charity shots...
With 26 seconds, the score is 72-68 Colorado.
Nebraska took too long to foul and there are only 12 seconds left. 74-68 Colorado.
Anni Stewart hit a three with seven seconds (74-71 CU) left... and Nebraska fouled...
Final. Colorado 75 Nebraska 71
Nebraska’s season ends in the second round of the WNIT.
It was an up-and-down season and it feels like Nebraska could have made a deep run in the WNIT. But, we all know that March is mad and no one can predict the otucome. Given the transfers, COVID year, and injury shuffling that Nebraska had to do, it is hard to fault this team for the finish. There are so many great pieces to build on and a really tremendous freshman class coming in.
I am looking forward to the 2021-22 season already.
Go Big Red!