The first game vs the Illini was one in which the Huskers had a late lead, but gave up a surge in the fourth quarter to take the loss. Will the Huskers be able to play four full quarters tonight?
Nebraska is back tonight at 7 p.m. as the #Huskers (14-13, 6-10) have a rematch with No. 25 Illinois (20-7, 10-6) in Champaign.— Geoff Exstrom (@Ex_On_Sports) February 23, 2023
The Illini will officially become the school-record 12th AP Top 25 opponent this season for NU.
On Feb. 20, Illinois beat NU 72-64 after a 20-0 run.
Both teams scored on their first possessions to make it a 3-2 game (Illinois) after the first minute. After the second minute, the Huskers led 7-5 behind baskets from Markowski, Krull, and a Shelley three-pointer. The Huskers got out to a 9-5 lead, but then Illinois scored the next four to tie it up at nine at 6:35. At the first media timeout, the Illini held a 13-11 lead.
Both teams hit shots immediately out of the break, but Illinois maintained their lead (15-14 Ill). Shelley has two made three-pointers already. Nebraska grabbed the lead (Anni Stewart) but Illinois wrestled it right back (17-16 Ill) at 2:56. An Illinois starter drew her second foul and went to the bench. Shelley’s third long range shot tied the game at 19 with two minutes left. Offensive fireworks ended the first quarter and the Huskers came out on the better end of that, including a Haiby jumper with one second left.
Nebraska 26 Illinois 23
The Husker defense is again leaky, but the offense is keeping pace with the Illini. Let’s see what Amy Williams dials up to try and get the defense back on track.
Neither team could score for the first minute but then both found the basket to make it 28-25 (Neb) at 8:42. Maddie Krull extended the Nebraska lead to five (30-25 Neb). The Illinois are missing a starter (injury) tonight and have another in foul trouble. They aren’t going away though and fought back to tie the game at 30 and Amy Williams called a timeout (6:24).
Issie Bourne scored to put Nebraska up again and then repeated her feat for the four point lead (34-30 Neb). She wasn’t done there as Issie scored her 7th and 8th points for a six point lead (36-30 Neb). Anni Stewart joined the paint points party (38-30 Neb). The Illini broke the run (38-32 Neb) at 3:31. Maddie Krull picked up her second foul.
MUCH STUFF HAPPENED. At one minute the Huskers held a 10 point lead (43-33 Neb) which included yet another Shelley three (her fourth of the day). Illinois scored a basket and Haiby scored her second buzzer beater in two quarters to maintain the double digit margin.
Nebraska 45 Illinois 35
Jaz Shelley leads scoring with 12, Bourne has eight, Markowski and Krull have six apiece.
Markowski and Shelley each have four rebounds.
Illinois came out firing with a three pointer, answered by a Markowski layup (38-47 Neb) one minute into the frame. An Illinois starter picked up her third foul, but stayed in the game. An Illini basket was answered with four points from the Huskers (Shelley and Haiby) for a 51-40 lead at 7:07.
Over two possessions, Markowski missed three free throws and made one (she actually missed four but got a second chance on a lane violation by Illinois) for a 52-40 lead. Issie Bourne got another mismatch and gave the Huskers a 14 point lead (54-40 Neb) at 5:54. Markowski dished out another assist (her fourth) to Shelley (56-40 Neb) at 5:25.
The Huskers went up by 18 before and Illinois three pointer (58-43 Neb) at 3:53. Another Illinois starter picks up a third foul (Haiby). She made both charity shots (60-43 Neb). Both teams proceeded to miss shots but Kendall Coley nailed her second long shot to give Nebraska a 20 point lead (63-43 Neb) at 2:49. The Huskers were not done yet as Markowski scored (65-43 Neb) and forced Illinois to take a timeout to regroup. The Illini coach is having an “animated”, one-sided conversation with her players right now.
Two Illinois free throws were the only scoring until the clock wound under one minute (65-45 Neb). Maggie Mendelson hit one of two free throws (66-45 Neb) and another Illinois starter picked up her third foul. Shelley hit both (68-45 Neb) and Illinois hit a jumper to beat the buzzer.
Nebraska 68 Illinois 47
Bourne went to work to extend the lead and Illinois answered with a five point run (70-52 Neb) at 8:43. Haiby broke the run (72-52 Neb) with a difficult layup that was answered by another Illini three (72-55 Neb) at 6:49 and Amy Williams took a timeout to break the momentum. After several late game meltdowns, the Huskers need to take a breath and stop the Illinois momentum.
Krull scored after an Illinois foul bailed out the Huskers in a late shot clock situation (75-55 Neb) at 5:49. A Shelley three (yes, another one) and free throws increased the Husker lead (80-55 Neb) at 4:37. Markowski picked up her fourth foul. Krull hit a layup (she is the fifth Nebraska starter in double figures) and that was answered by Illinois AND ANOTHER SHELLEY THREE!! (85-57 Neb). The Husker run wasn’t done yet with a Bourne layup (87-57 Neb) with 1:36 left. A Hake three finished the scoring for the game.
Final. Nebraska 90 Illinois 57
Stats and Thoughts
All five Husker starters scored in double figures: Shelley (26), Bourne (16), Haiby (12), Markowski and Krull (11). Issie Bourne notched a double-double with 13 rebounds. Markowski and Haiby grabbed seven apiece.
Shelley dished out six assists, Haiby and Markowski each had four of their own.
The Huskers shot 59% from the field (36-61) and 42% from long range (10-24). The Illini were at 34% (23-67) and 23% (6-26) respectively. Both teams took good care of the ball as the Huskers committed nine turnovers to six for Illinois.
Nebraska dominated in rebounding 44-24 with most of that advantage being in defensive rebounds (36-15).
The Huskers tried out a zone-ish defense that did a real number on the Illini’s offensive sets. We are also seeing a return of the knockdown version of Jaz Shelley from earlier in the season. Nebraska is still very much an outer bubble team for the NCAA tournament and has a lot of work to do to get back in serious consideration. But, they did what the needed to do tonight.
One step at a time.
The Huskers host Northwestern on Sunday. Tipoff is at 1 pm.