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Nebraska WBB Out-Grits Michigan 76-73 to Advance to the B1G Tournament Semi-Finals

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The Wolverines wrecked Nebraska’s game plan but the Huskers prevailed behind a balanced team and defensive adjustments

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 04 Big Ten Women’s Tournament - Nebraska v Michigan

I was concerned about this game. Michigan is a REALLY good team that can play defense and offense in ways to cause problems for Nebraska. The Huskers beat the Wolverines convincingly (by 21 points) earlier this season and Michgan would definitely be out for blood. Tonights 76-73 win is not the same level of whuppin’ as before, but might be more impressive because...

The Wolverines wrecked Nebraska’s game plan (attack the paint) by getting Markowski and Bourne into foul trouble. The Huskers improvised and fought back anyway. Now, they are rewarded with a trip to the B1G tournament semi-finals and will play Iowa for the third time this season. The Hawkeyes have two convincing wins against Nebraska.

The Huskers will have to pull a few rabbits out of their hat if they hope to make the finals.

First Quarter

Nebraska drew two early fouls on the Wolverines and hit the glass hard. An Issie Bourne three earned an early 5-0 lead for Nebraska. It took nearly two minutes for the Wolverines to score, but they found some success in the paint. Jaz Shelley has some kind of sixth sense on the basketball court. She uses the force to figure out where her teammates are or where a defender is going and makes the right decision to take advantage of that more often than not. The Husker guards are driving to the rim with purpose and doing it often. All five Husker starters have scored points by the media timeout (13-7 Neb).

Annika Stewart scored eight points out of the break to help Nebraska extend their lead to 21-10. A Weidner three pointer and Wolverine turnover forced a Michigan timeout. Michigan is in the bonus with 90 seconds left in the quarter. Nebraska continued to push the pace and dicate the game as the first quarter ended. Stewart has eight points and Weidner seven.

Nebraska 26 Michigan 14

Second Quarter

Bella Cravens took an elbow to the face (nothing dirty or intentional) which drew blood. Sam Haiby is getting herself into great position for rebounds (defensive). A big problem for Nebraska is that Issie Bourne has picked up three fouls and will be sitting on the bench for a while. It took almost two minutes for either team to score. Much of Michigan’s scoring this quarter is in the form of free throws and they cut the Husker lead to 28-19 at 7:22. The Wolverines continued to cut into the lead. At the media timeout the lead was only five for Nebraska (28-23) with two Michigan free throws pending.

The Wolverines closed within three behind those free throws and the run is 9-2 in favor of the Wolverines since Issie Bourne had to sit down in foul trouble. A shot clock violation added to the offensive woes for Nebraska. Bella Cravens, with a visible trace of blood still on her face (and now wearing a different jersey number because of that), broke the scoring drought. The referees do not have control of this game at all. More Wolverine scoring pulled them ahead of Nebraska briefly. The lead changed multiple times with a buzzer beating three putting Michigan up by four as the half wound down.

Michigan 36 Nebraska 32

Anni Stewart is the first Husker in double digits with 10 points. Weidner has seven. Markowski has five rebounds but also three turnovers. Michigan has kept Jaz Shelley under wraps with two points, one rebond and one assist. Nebraska’s posts are in foul trouble and the Husker game does not seem to be about hitting the three ball. That may need to change.

Third Quarter

It was a back and forth quarter with both teams tied at 45 at the media timeout.

These teams are going toe-to-toe with hard-nosed defense getting the upper hand most of the time. The Huskers went on a run to take a 54-47 lead with two minutes left. This is a hard scrabble game, as one would expect between quality, defensive-minded teams.

Issie Bourne was brought back in the game with 20 seconds left and was called almost immediately for her fourth foul. That is a tough blow for Nebraska.

Nebraska 56 Michigan 52

Fourth Quarter

The early part of the quarter was an even match again. Jaz Shelley picked up her third foul and the next two possessions for Michigan allowed hem to regain the lead 61-58. Shelley made up for the foul by hitting a three and tying the game at 61. Markowski took a charge and the play was reviewed; it was reversed to be a block on Markowski. That sucks especially since that is her fourth foul. Both starting posts are one bump away from leaving the game. The free throws gave the lead back to the Wolverines (63-61 Mich) and a turnover by Nebraska gave the ball back to the Wolverines.

More Husker fouls contined to give Michgan free points and the score was 67-61 with 5:39 left. The Huskers went on a four point run (Markowski, Haiby and Shelley are awesome) but then gave up a basket for a 69-65 score in favor of Michigan with 3:50 left in the game.

The Huskers tied the game at 71 as the game clock went under two minutes behind a Weidner layup. Both teams continued to trade blows - by the way, it is HAIBY TIME - and Nebraska holds a slim 74-73 lead with less than a minute to go.

Michigan ball with 21 seconds left. Timeout.

Jump ball. Michgan has the possession arrow. Eight seconds.

Steal by Markowski. Five seconds.

Michigan foul. Weidner will shoot. Four seconds. She makes both.

FINAL. Nebraska 76 Michigan 73

Final Thoughts and Stats

Four Huskers reached double figures with Haiby and Weidner scoring 16 points apiece. Anni Stewart and Jaz Shelley scored 12 each. Markowski added nine rebounds. After that, it was a totally balanced team effort as everyone contributed and no one stood out for other stats.

This was a gritty, hard-fought win against a team that is currently projected as a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Michigan was out for blood and they showed a lot of heart to come back from the bombardment Nebraska put on them in the first quarter.

I would normally post a lot of team comparison stats but I don’t care right now. The Huskers are going to the semi-finals to face a team that beat them handily (twice) this season. It will be Nebraska vs Iowa in the nightcap on Saturday. Look for the game thread (probably combined with baseball) tomorrow.

Go Big Red.