Nebraska women’s basketball fell to a rising Rutgers team 62-56 on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights improved to 13-3 (5-0 Big Ten) on the year, while the Huskers fell to 7-9 (2-3).
Rutgers’ guard duo of Charise Wilson and Ciani Cryor overwhelmed the Huskers as the two players combined for 25 points, with 18 coming from behind the three-point arc.
Rutgers led for almost the entire affair, but a 10-2 surge to start off the fourth quarter by the Huskers tied the game at 52. The Scarlet Knights answered, regaining their lead and did not look back. Rutgers held Nebraska to just four points over the final 6:38, sealing its 13th win of the year.
As a team, Rutgers shot 56.3 percent from three-point range, while shooting 40.6 percent from the floor.
Sophomore Arella Guirantes got Rutgers going with a deep three-pointer on the first possession of the ball game. The Huskers did not score until the 7:39 mark in the first quarter, as freshman forward Leigha Brown scored the first of her game-high 18 points. Cryor and Wilson also hit deep three-pointers in the opening quarter. The Scarlet Knights maintained their comfortable lead, finishing the first quarter up 21-13.
Nebraska responded to open the second quarter. Brown made a layup and senior forward Maddie Simon sunk two free-throws as the Huskers trailed 23-17. Nebraska and Rutgers traded scoring runs throughout the remainder of the second quarter. With the score at 27-20, the Scarlet Knights held the Huskers scoreless for a three-minute stretch as Rutgers took a 33-20 lead.
On back-to-back possessions, sophomore center Kate Cain and junior guard Hannah Whitish completed and-ones, pulling the Nebraska disadvantage to seven. Brown knocked down a jumper with eight seconds to play in the half, and Nebraska trailed by eight points at halftime
Rutgers scored five points to open the second half and began to close out the game. A matchup change by Nebraska head coach Amy Williams helped slow down the Rutgers offense as junior guard Nicea Eliely and freshman guard Sam Haiby began pressuring the Scarlet Knight point guards at half court.
Brown started a 9-0 Nebraska run with a three-pointer and freshmen forwards Ashtyn Verbeek, Kayla Mershon and Brown all made free-throws, cutting Rutgers’ lead to just three points. Rutgers head coach Vivian Stringer adjusted, as the Scarlet Knights ended the third quarter on 9-4 run, pushing their lead to 50-42.
The Scarlet Knights played a clean first half, only turning the ball over four times. However, they tallied 10 in the second half, with seven coming in the fourth quarter. The sloppiness gave Nebraska and its fans inside Pinnacle Bank Arena a glimpse of life.
Sophomore sharpshooter and guard Taylor Kissinger started off the fourth quarter with a layup. Rutgers answered with a layup of its own, but Kissinger hit a three on the next possession, followed by an Eliely layup and another Kissinger three-pointer. With just 6:38 left in the game, the score remained tied at 52.
The defenses picked up the intensity and the shots quit falling for both teams down the stretch. Rutgers’ redshirt senior Stasha Carey broke the three-minute scoring drought with a layup, giving the Scarlet Knights a chance to pull away. Most of the Husker scoring attempts failed and the Scarlet Knights distanced their lead on a Guirantes three-pointer and two free throws from Carey. The Huskers couldn’t overcome the deficit and eventually fell by a final score of 62-56.
The Huskers struggled offensively, only making 35.6 percent of their shots from the field, but made up for it by making seven of their 12 three-pointers. Nebraska also out-rebounded Rutgers 38-28. Both teams played the entirety of their benches and the Husker bench outscored the Scarlet Knight bench 34-17.
The Rutgers victory was the team’s first victory in Lincoln and Stringer’s 1,010th career win. Rutgers also extended its winning streak to eight consecutive games, dating back to November.
The Huskers return to action next Thursday, as they travel to Champaign, Illinois to take on the the Illinois Fighting Illini at 7 p.m.