It was a workmanlike win by Nebraska except for an ugly stretch to start the fourth quarter where they struggled mightily. Foul trouble by Nebraska’s posts, Markowksi and Cravens proved to be a relative non-factor as both were effective and the Huskers were able to keep one of them on the floor most of the time.
Issie Bourne started the scoring with a three thanks to an offensive rebound courtesy of Jaz Shelley. The Husker point guard decided to then get in on scoring too with a one-handed runner in the lane to give Nebraska a 5-0 lead. Bourne was fouled, making both free throws followed by a layup to extend the Husker lead to 9-0 with six minutes left in the quarter. It took until 5:48 for Illinois to get on the board but Issie Bourne is on FIRE as she hit another three to give the Huskers a double digit lead only five minutes into the game (12-2 Neb).
A Sam Haiby lauyup gave Nebraska a 14-2 lead going into the media timeout. Issie has 10 of the 14 Husker points...
...make that 12 of 16 as she hits another one out of the timeout.
Illinois finally started to get some offense going as they cut into the Husker lead. The Illini press gave Nebraska some troubles and the score stood at 18-7 with 2:26 left. One of the Illinois starters (Lopes) picked up her second foul in the fray.
Jaz Shelley was sent back in the game to handle the press. Alison Weidner is also on the floor and making her presence felt immediately with assists, layups and hustle plays all around. Bella Cravens is also finding some room to work as Ililnois is throwing everything they have at stopping Bourne and (successfully) putting pressure on the Husker transition game.
Huskers 25 Illinois 11
The teams traded baskets to start the second quarter but then the Huskers went on a run and extended their lead to 19 despite still having trouble with the Illini press (32-13 Neb).
Nebraska wasn’t done extending lead as they increased their advantage to 20 (43-23 Neb) with 90 seconds left in the half. Bella Cravens picked up her third foul with a minute left in the half. Without Anni Stewart, that does leave Nebraska with less depth inside, but it doesn’t look like it will matter if the game continues this way.
Nebraska 45 Illinois 26
Issie Bourne leads Nebraska with 14 points while Bella Cravens has nine. Haiby and Shelley have seven apiece. Surprisingly, Alexis Markowski has been shut out so far.
Cravens is beasting on the boards with eight. No other Husker has more than four. Shelley has two steals while Shelly, Bourne and Haiby have each blocked a shot. Scoggin and Haiby have two assists apiece.
You knew Markowski wasn’t going to be held off the scoreboard for long and she earned a trip to the free throw line, making both. The Illini were determined to make up ground on offense and Nebraska offered some turnovers, but the 18 point lead held through the first two and half minutes.
Jaz Shelley extended the lead to 21 (53-31 Neb) but that was followed by Markowski’s third foul; she picked up her fourth shortly thereafter. Shelley has taken over the team lead in scoring with 15 as Nebraska continues to find open shots. The only Huskers that have been on the floor and not scored yet are Kendall Moriarty and Ruby Porter.
Issie Bourne got her first points of the second half (made free throw) and the Husker lead held at 18 at the media timeout (56-38 Neb). Nebraska has gone cold from the three point line, but are hitting the offensive glass to get second chances at scoring. Illinois cut the lead to as little as 16 as Nebraska’s offense continued to struggle finishing but free throws lifted the Huskers output.
Nebraska 64 Illinois 44
Illinois scored eleven points to open the quarter as Nebraska struggled on offense for over three minutes (64-55 Neb). Alexis Markowski and her four fouls checked back in the game to try and give Nebraska a spark. This dysfunctional offense has shown up way too often as of late, but perhaps I am judging too harshly after watching the fireworks of the non-conference season racked up against a weak schedule.
Illinois could have cut the lead further, but two missed free throws gave Nebraska a possession they finally capitalized on with a Shelley three (67-55 Neb). Markowski began to go to work and put in a free throw, layup, steal and couple of rebounds to extend the lead back to 15 (70-55 Neb). Jaz Shelley went over 20 points with a three (73-57 Neb).
Ashley Scoggin picked up her fourth foul and was replaced by Alison Weidner. Illinois cut the lead to 12 before Markowski rolled to the basket to make it 75-61 Nebraska with two minutes left. Weidner added to the lead and Nebraska added a copule more scores as the game ended.
Final. Nebraska 82 Illinois 63
Final Thoughts and Stats
Four Huskers were in double digits led by Jaz Shelley (21), Bourne (19), Cravens (12), and Haiby (10). Cravens earned a double double with 11 rebounds. Haiby pulled down eight rebounds and Markowski and Bourne grabbed seven apiece. Haiby had five assists and Cravens three.
A big difference in this game came largely at the three point line where Nebraska outshot Illinois 9-33 (27%) compared to 2-13 (15%). From the field, Nebraska shot 44% compared to 41% for the Illini.
Nebraska outrebounded Illinois 43-31 and had 17 assists compared to 13 for Illinois. The Huskers committed two fewer turnovers (16-14) and blocked three shots to one for the Illini.
Next up for Nebraska is top 10 Indiana, a team the Huskers have already lost to this season, albeit by a respectable seven point margin in the Hoosiers’ home gym. The game will be Monday, February 14 at 6 pm and will be televised on BTN.