Spoiler alert: This was a struggle-bus game for sure. Both teams are excellent on defense. Rutgers is bad on offense but had the personnel to muck up the Husker offense just enough to stay within shouting distance.
This was the sort of game that last year’s Huskers might have lost. The difference this year?
She refused to board the struggle-bus and decided to grab hold of the front bumper and pull it along her preferred path.
It wasn’t pretty. But is was a win and a win on very short rest. The Huskers have another short turnaround before they play Penn State on Thursday night.
Issie Bourne is back in the starting lineup (in place of Bella Cravens) after coming off the bench the past two games. Cravens and Bourne are both excellent defenders and very athletic. Cravens brings a little more rebounding and attitude in the paint while Bourne brings more offense and the ability to defend the perimeter and transition. Moving those two around might be a matchup call that depends on the post players the other team brings.
Alexis Markowski hit a layup to give Nebraska the early lead, but neither team could find any offense for two minutes until Sam Haiby hit a three to extend the Husker lead to 5-0. Bella Cravens and Ruby Porter came in the game. With the short turnarond, expect Amy Williams to substitute a lot to keep players fresh. Both teams are struggling offensively, which is pretty par for the course when anyone plays Rutgers. Rutgers finally got on the board at the five minute mark (5-2 Neb).
Out of the timeout, Rutgers went on a four point run to take a brief lead that was erased by Markowski (7-6 Neb). Alison Weidner and Anni Stewart entered the game and Weidner found Cravens for a quick basket (but then committed a foul in transition). Anni Stewart showed some great body control in evading two defenders and getting the layup (11-8 Neb). The Huskers are cold from three point land but at least they are starting to hit the layups. Porter found Shelley for a transition bucket (13-8 Neb).
I was about to type that Nebraska was cold from three point range (they are) but Ruby Porter hit a three to put a bow on the scoring for the quarter.
Nebraska 16 Rutgers 10
The offensive struggles continued for both teams as two minutes elapsed with no points. Markowski is playing some excellent defense as she took a hard shot from a Rutgers player but kept her assignment from scoring to force a shot clock violation. On the other end, she drew a foul and hit her free throws to extend the lead to eight (18-10 Neb). One of the Rutgers starters has two fouls and went to the bench. Two Bourne free throws gave Nebraska twice as many points as the Knights....and then MiCole Cayton hit a three to force a Rutgers timeout (23-10 Neb).
Out of the timeout, both teams traded baskets but then went cold (including a shot clock violation and three second violation on Nebraska) and the score stayed a 25-12 for over two minutes. Nebraska’s rebounding guards are really an asset tonight. Bella Cravens picked up her second foul and headed to the bench with 1:43 left in the half. Anni Stewart uncharacteristically missed two three pointers as the Knights outscored the Huskers in the waning moments of the half. The Huskers forced the fifth shot clock violation on Rutgers as well.
Nebraska 27 Rutgers 18
Halftime: #Huskers 27, Rutgers 18— Steve Marik (@Steve_Marik) February 2, 2022
The two teams are a combined 17-of-65 from the field.
Rutgers is mucking things up on D, which is what it needs to do if it wants to stay in this game.
Markowski has 8 points and 7 rebounds. Jaz Shelley with 4 points, 3 boards, 3 assists.
Eleven Huskers have been on the floor and eight of them have scored points. Markowski leads with eight and Jaz Shelley has four. The Huskers are only shooting 27% from the field and 17% from the three point line. Nebraska has outrebounded the Knights 29-20 and have committed eight turnovers to 10 for Rutgers.
This quarter continued the ugly offensive slog as neither team scored for two minutes. Alexis Markowski hit two free throws to become the first Husker in double figures. Turnovers marked the next stretch of the quarter and the score was 31-20 in favor of Nebraska at the six minute mark.
The offensive pace increased, especially in favor of Rutgers as the Knights closed the lead down to five (33-28 Neb) with 2:30 left in the quarter. The rest of the quarter was a struggle for both teams.
Nebraska 36 Rutgers 30
Rutgers opened the quarter with a near shot clock violation but were bailed out by an offensive rebound and basket to close within four (36-32 Neb). A jumper for Rutgers made the score 36-34 Neb.
The Huskers went on a six point run to increase the lead to 42-34.
More struggle bus (for both teams). This game is hard to watch if you like offense. If you like great defense, it isn’t even that great to watch. This is just two teams struggling to the finish.
Sam Haiby beat the shot clock with a clutch three pointer. 45-34 with three minutes left.
Markowski. 47-34 Nebraska.
Shelley to Markowski (who was fouled). She made both. 49-34 Nebraska. The Husker run is 13-0 with two minutes left.
Rugers free throws, 49-36.
Haiby turnover. Rutgers turnover. 1:17 left.
Nebraska 50 Rutgers 38
The Scarlet Knights mucked up the game in a big way. It was the only way they had a chance to win and they made it close several times.
Final Thoughts and Stats
Two Huskers scored in double digits, led by Markowski (18) and Haiby (12). Markowski was challenged early as freshman (Cravens’ injury moving her into the starting lineup) and she has responded by learning and growing and developing into a polished Big Ten player within the span of a few weeks.
Markowski added to her double-double collection by acquiring 15 rebounds, with Haiby adding six and Shelley five.
Jaz Shelley had five assists and one blocked shot (the only Husker block). Overall, the Huskers had 12 steals and 13 assists.
Shooting? Do you really want to know?!?
The Huskers shot 28% (17-61) from the field and 19% (6-31) from the three point line. More than half of Nebraska’s shots came from behind the arc. That says a lot about the Rutgers defense.
Rutgers shot 33% from the field (16-49) and 13% (1-8) from the three points line.
It was an ugly game. Don’t make me look at more stats.