Husker Women Power Past Missouri State, 74-65
Lincoln - Sam Haiby erupted for a season-high 25 points, while Isabelle Bourne added a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Nebraska to a 74-65 women's basketball win over Missouri State in the first round of the Postseason WNIT on Wednesday night.
Playing in front of an energized crowd of 4,116, Haiby hit 7-of-11 shots from the floor and knocked down 11-of-13 free throws to lead the Huskers. She added four rebounds, three assists, a steal and no turnovers in 33 minutes of work to help Nebraska improve to 17-14 overall while earning its first postseason home win inside Pinnacle Bank Arena. Missouri State closed its first season under Head Coach Beth Cunningham with a 20-12 record.
Bourne was nearly as efficient as Haiby, connecting on 6-of-10 field goals, including 1-of-2 threes, while knocking down 3-of-4 free throws. Her 12 rebounds were just one shy of a season high, as she notched her fourth double-double of the year and ninth of her career.
Jaz Shelley put three Huskers in double figures with 11 points on 3-of-6 three-point shooting, while adding six assists, three steals and two blocks. Shelley's night included a buzzer-beating half-court shot that sent the crowd into a frenze and the Big Red to halftime with a 38-32 lead.
Alexis Markowski contributed seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while Annika Stewart added seven points and three boards off the bench to help the Big Red. Maddie Krull also pitched in six points, while Kendall Moriarty rounded out the scoring for the Huskers with her first-half layup.
As a team, Nebraska hit 46.3 percent (25-54) of its shots from the floor, but just 5-of-19 three-pointers (.263). However, the Huskers made up for their slow night from long range by connecting on 19-of-26 free throws (.731). The Huskers lost the battle of the boards, 47-36, to one of the nation's best rebounding teams, but won the turnover battle, 14-10, and outscored the Lady Bears, 14-9 in points off turnovers.
The Huskers held Missouri State to just 30.4 percent (21-69) shooting, while the Lady Bears hit 7-of-24 threes (.292). Missouri State also hit 16-of-20 free throws (.800). Kennedy Taylor led the Lady Bears with 21 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, including nine offensive boards, while Aniya Thomas added 17 points and five assists. Sydney Wilson put three Lady Bears in double figures with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Paige Rocca added eight points and eight boards.
In an entertaining first half capped by Shelley's half-court heave, Nebraska carried a 38-32 lead to halftime. It was Shelley's second three-pointer of the half, as the Huskers hit just 2-of-13 three-pointers - both from Shelley - in the opening 20 minutes.
Haiby carried the Huskers in the first half, pouring in 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while adding 4-of-6 free throws. Bourne added six points and seven rebounds in the half, while Markowski pitched in six points of her own.
Missouri State rallied from a 22-15 deficit at the end of the first quarter to take a 32-30 lead with 2:45 left in the half, before the Big Red closed the half with an 8-0 run that included a three-point play by Haiby and a bucket by Markowski preceding Shelley's half-court shot.
The Lady Bears hung tough throughout the half by hitting 5-of-11 three-pointers, despite hitting just 26 percent of their threes on the season. Thomas led Missouri State with 11 first-half points, including three quick three-pointers to account for nine of of Missouri State's first 10 points. Taylor added eight first-half points, including Missouri State's first six points of the second quarter.
The Huskers hit 44.4 percent (16-36) of their first-half shots, including 60 percent (9-15) in the first quarter. Missouri State answered by knocking down 37.5 percent (12-32) of its shots and 3-of-4 free throws. The Lady Bears won the first-half rebounding battle, 23-18, but the teams were tied 6-6 on second-chance points. Nebraska won the first-half turnover battle, 9-4, outscoring Missouri State 7-2 in points off turnovers.
Missouri State fought back early in the second half, getting a three-point play from Taylor and a shot from Thomas to draw within 39-37 just over one minute into the third quarter, but Nebraska answered with back-to-back buckets from Haiby and Krull to push the Husker lead back to 43-37 with 4:37 left in the period. The Huskers held Missouri State without a field goal for the final 8:53 of the third quarter, holding the Lady Bears to 2-for-18 shooting in the period. The Big Red closed the quarter with back-to-back threes from Bourne and Shelley in the final 1:20 to take a 51-41 lead to the final quarter.
Nebraska took its biggest lead of the night on Bourne's layup to open the fourth period, before back-to-back threes from Rocca and Wilson cut the lead in half to just six points at 53-47 with 8:18 left, ending Missouri's State 10-minute field goal drought. Haiby answered with a traditional three-point play, and after a basket by Missouri State's Thomas, Stewart drained a long three to put the Big Red back up 10 points at 59-49 with seven minutes left.
Eventually, Missouri State cut the Husker margin to 60-55, but four points from Bourne and a three-point play from Krull provided the final answer Nebraska needed to extend the margin back to 10 points at 67-57 with 3:15 left. The Huskers closed the game out by making free throws down the stretch.
Nebraska now waits for the winner of Thursday night's first-round WNIT game between Colorado State and Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Date, time and location for Nebraska's second-round game will be announced when determined by the WNIT.