These teams went toe-to-toe for the first four minutes with the Huskers holding a slim 8-7 lead. Jaz Shelley and Sam Haiby gave Nebraska some breathing room at the media timeout with a 13-7 lead.
Out of the timeout, the six point margin mostly held as Nebraska couldn’t get a run going until late in the quarter. With 90 seconds left, some good transition work gave the Huskers a nine point lead (21-12) which soon reached double digits with a Markowski three (24-14) and then a Bourne layup (26-14). The Illini hit a buzzer beater three to end the quarter.
Nebraska 26 Illinois 17
Jaz Shelley did one of her amazing “how did she see that” passes to assist a Haiby basket (28-17 Neb). Sam Haiby picked up two quick fouls and Illinois whittled the lead back down to seven (28-21 Neb). Two Husker three pointers (Shelley and Markowski) caused the Illinois to call a timeout with a 34-21 score.
Shelley and Markowski both hit threes again. Illinois managed some baskets of their own and drew several Husker fouls (42-27 Neb).
Nebraska 44 Illinois 29
Twelve of Nebraska’s seventeen field goals have been assisted. Alexis Markowski leads the Huskers in scoring with 13; Jaz Shelley has 11 and Issie Bourne nine. Bella Cravens, Allison Weidner, Sam Haiby and Markowski all have three rebounds. Shelley has five assists and Markowski three blocked shots.
The Huskers opened the half with three early points, but they were earned the hard way. Haiby was fouled, hit her first free throw and missed the second. Markowski pulled down the offensive rebound and put it back up for the layup. Illinois committed three turnovers in two minutes. A Markowski basket was followed by the ‘and one’ to increase the lead to 20 (50-30 Neb). At the media timeout, the score was 55-37 in favor of Nebraska.
The Illini cut the lead to 15 and the margin stayed there for a couple minutes of game time. Haiby picked up her third foul late in the quarter and was replaced by Weidner. Both teams found their groove on offense over the final two minutes.
Nebraska 68 Illinois 52
The Huskers hit a basket and committed two quick fouls (neither hurt as the free throws were missed). Jaz Shelley extended Nebraska’s lead to the largest of the game at 21 with a three pointer (75-54 Neb). The Jaz Shelley of tonight looks like the player from early in the season who scored effortlessly and facilitated the offense in ways that causes jaws to drop.
Jaz Shelley scored her 30th, 31st and 32nd points of the game with a three pointer (her ninth) to give Nebraska an 86-62 lead.
Garbage time. Bench cleared.
Final. Nebraska 92 Illinois 74
Stats and Thoughts
Jaz Shelley had herself a game with 32 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Alexis Markowski did too with 22 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots. In the postgame comments, they were the first teammates to post 20+ point performances in the B1G tourney since 2012.
Issie Bourne and Sam Haiby rounded out the Huskers in double digit scoring with 15 and 10 points respectively. Haiby added six assists and Bourne four.
The Huskers shot 48% from the field compared to 44% from Illinois. The hot shooting carried past the three point line as the Huskers took THIRTY-TWO shots from long range and hit 15 of them.
Nebraska committed 10 turnovers compared to seven for Illinois. The Huskers won the rebound battle 43-32.
The Huskers will take on Michigan on Friday evening, approximately 8:00 pm. Nebraska beat Michigan by 20 earlier this season. It is safe to say that the highly ranked Wolverines will be out for revenge. Both teams are playing for the best seeding possible (the Wolverines are projected as a two seed and the Huskers a seven seed). Michigan could solidify a favorable seeding by beating Nebraska while the Huskers have a chance to move up if they make noise in the conference tournament.