Nebraska was overmatched against No. 7 Maryland for the second time this season, losing 89-63 to the Terrapins.
Maryland collected its eighth straight win, while Nebraska lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Much like their first matchup, an 81-63 win for Maryland on Jan. 8, Nebraska kept it close through the first two quarters. However, it couldn’t keep up with Maryland’s high-powered offense as the contest continued.
Five Maryland players ended up scoring in double digits in the game. Junior guard Kaila Charles led the way with 22 points, six rebounds and four steals. Senior forward Brianna Fraser also impressed, putting up 14 points to go with eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Junior guard Nicea Eliely was a bright spot for the Huskers, as she scored a season-high 18 points on 6-10 shooting.
From the opening tip, the Terrapins came out swinging. They began the game on a 9-0 run, and held a 15-4 lead with 3:45 to go in the first quarter. Nebraska then answered with an 8-2 run, capped off by a three-pointer from junior guard Hannah Whitish. By the end of the quarter, Maryland held a 22-15 advantage.
Junior guard Blair Watson and freshman forward Shakira Austin led the Terrapins’ scoring effort in the first quarter with eight points and seven points, respectively. Maryland also forced eight Nebraska turnovers, which turned into eight points.
In the first half, the three-point shot kept the Huskers in the game. Eliely hit two shots from beyond the arc early in the quarter for six of her 10 second quarter points, and sophomore guard Taylor Kissinger hit a three of her own to cap off an 11-4 Nebraska run that cut the deficit to 29-26.
Maryland quickly responded with a 6-0 run, capped by Charles stealing the ball from Whitish and finishing a fastbreak layup with 3:31 to go in the half. The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the half, as Maryland took a 41-34 lead into the break.
Nebraska stayed in the contest by shooting 6-10 from three in the first half, but Maryland dominated the interior, outscoring the Huskers 24-12 inside. However, sophomore Kate Cain came up with four blocks in the first half to try and slow down Maryland in the paint.
Despite just a seven-point deficit, statistics were not on Nebraska’s side heading into the latter half of the game. Coming into tonight’s matchup, Maryland was 20-0 on the season when leading at the half.
Early in the third quarter, Nebraska began to show signs of frustration. After the Huskers scored just two points in the first three and a half minutes of the period, Whitish drove to the hoop. Maryland stripped the ball from the guard and possibly got away with some contact to her hands. Whitish immediately clapped her hands together and directed a few magic words at the referee, drawing a technical foul.
Although the Huskers showed some signs of cracking, it wasn’t until the 3:04 mark of the third that they finally broke. After Whitish hit a jumper to cut the Maryland lead to 53-45, the Terrapins responded with an and-one layup from Fraser. Nebraska head coach Amy Williams was upset with the call, so much so that she drew a technical foul.
Junior forward Stephanie Jones hit two technical free throws before Fraser was sent to the line to try and complete the three-point play. She missed the free throw, but Watson grabbed the offensive rebound, leading to a three-pointer from freshman guard Taylor Mikesell. This capped off a seven-point possession that gave Maryland a 15-point lead.
With under 10 seconds to go in Nebraska’s nightmare quarter, Maryland brought a double-team on Whitish. Whitish proceeded to fall to the ground, losing the ball out of bounds. The Terrapins added insult to injury on the ensuing possession, as Watson hit a deep three at the buzzer to cap off a 16-0 run and take a 24-point lead into the final period.
Unlike most of the Huskers’ fourth quarters this year, the last 10 minutes were uneventful. On Nebraska’s first possession of the quarter, freshman forward Kayla Mershon airballed a three-pointer. With 20 seconds left, Charles put the icing on the cake with an and-one layup. The point differential never dropped below 20 in the period as the Terrapins cruised to their 22nd win of the season.
Nebraska shot 34.5 percent in the second half, and only hit one of its six three-point attempts. Meanwhile, Maryland scored 48 points in the final 20 minutes, including a 28-point third quarter.
Maryland took care of business tonight, proving why it is the top team in the Big Ten and a top-10 team in the country. On the other hand, Nebraska failed to put together a complete game once again, falling to 11-14 in what has been somewhat of a rebuilding year.
The schedule does not get much easier for the Huskers moving forward, as their next game will be against No. 24 Michigan State. Following that game, they will face off against Northwestern and Iowa, both teams they have already lost to once this season. Finally, they will finish up the regular season on March 2 against Penn State.
Nebraska will return home to face the Spartans at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.