Leigha Brown

Leigha Brown (32) goes up for a shot during their matchup against Purdue at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The fourth quarter is one where the Huskers love to shine this season. They have completed many comebacks and are usually able to put pressure on the opponent. This time, Nebraska came into the fourth quarter leading at Minnesota but was on its heels.

The Huskers led 48-47 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and was their first lead to open the fourth quarter since Jan. 9. That opening fourth quarter lead was hanging by a thread as the Huskers opened second half play with a 39-30 lead.

Nebraska scored only nine third quarter points, its first points coming at the 5:18 mark after Minnesota took a 40-39 lead. After the nightmare start, Nebraska settled in, but the start was hard to overcome.

The Huskers and Gophers battled it out in the third quarter with neither team getting a chance at pulling away. Now in the fourth quarter, this was Nebraska’s shot to take back the game from Minnesota.

Junior center Kate Cain scored her first bucket and extended the Husker lead to 55-49. On defense, Cain earned her fifth block of the game with 7:15 left and became Nebraska’s all time leader in blocks with 240 career blocks. 

Despite a career achievement, the block meant little during that exact possession.

Cain’s fifth block went out of bounds and the Gophers regained control of the ball. Nine seconds later, senior forward Taiye Bello hit a lay-up to cut Nebraska’s lead down to 55-54. The Huskers had led for almost the entire game but seem to be on the verge of losing their lead.

Nebraska’s lead disappeared when Minnesota took the lead for good at 58-57 with 4:10 left in the game. Nebraska shot twice in a game-defining three minute stretch that was a reverse of the first two quarters.

Nebraska started out fast, taking a 19-15 first quarter lead by efficient shooting and getting to the free throw line. The Huskers went a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe as Cain, senior guard Hannah Whitish and sophomore forward Leigha Brown all got there. 

Whitish and sophomore guard Sam Haiby each had two first quarter assists and the Husker offense was rolling despite not making a 3-pointer. The Gophers offense made one 3-pointer and were outrebounded by four rebounds.

The Gophers offense quickly bounced back in the second quarter, going on a one minute 6-0 run to take a 21-19 lead. Haiby and senior guard Nicea Eliely each had a turnover that led to four points from Gophers freshman guard Sara Scalia and senior guard Jasmine Brunson.

The Huskers finally got their first points in the second quarter and began a long low-scoring second quarter. Nebraska and Minnesota combined for 12 points after the 21-21 tie in a five minute stretch.

The futile offensive stretch had five made baskets, four free-throw attempts and five turnovers. That stretch saw little opportunities converted and neither offense finding any type of hole against the opposing defense.

Tied at 27-27 with 3:20 left, the second quarter was headed towards an ugly finish until Brown converted an and-one opportunity to give Nebraska a 30-27 lead. Brown led a Husker 12-3 run to end the second quarter.

Brown had five points and two assists during the run, one assist being Nebraska’s first 3-pointer of the game from Whitish. A Gopher 3-pointer ended the onslaught but Nebraska took a 39-30 into halftime that seemed like a mountain.

The Gophers slowly climbed back into the game through playing a more physical style of basketball. Minnesota had 13 second half free-throw attempts, more than doubling its first half amount of five attempts.

Despite Cain’s defensive presence, the Gophers defense shut down Nebraska’s offense. More specifically, the Gophers locked up Nebraska’s two best scorers. Brown had two second half points while Whitish had three second half points.

Eliely and Haiby combined for 13 second half points. All Minnesota’s guards needed to do was punish the offensive futility. Freshman guard Jasmine Powell scored nine points in the fourth quarter and seven in the final four minutes to ice the game.

Brunson had 16 points and her sixth and final assist to Powell’s 3-pointer that ended any chance of another Nebraska comeback.

The Huskers come up empty-handed in a pivotal road game and now come home on Sunday for an all-important match-up against Ohio State.