Nicea Eliely

Nebraska's Nicea Eliely (5) jumps for the ball during the game against Oral Roberts University at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“A win is a win” was the mantra for Nebraska women’s basketball on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Amy Williams and multiple players agreed that the Huskers didn’t play a complete 40 minute game.

Although they were disappointed in their play, the Huskers are still excited to be moving to 9-1 after defeating the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (4-7) by a final score of 77-67.

“We need to be more intense and more on top of everything, because we know we could have played a whole lot better this game,” junior center Kate Cain said.

Cain had the first basket of the night, a sight that became familiar to the crowd, as Cain made her first seven shots. She was responsible for 15 total points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Williams applauded Cain for being tough and making the “hustle plays” consistently.

“The thing I’m the most proud of with Kate [Cain] right now is just, you know, the eight rebounds is coming from just slightly more aggressiveness,” Williams said.

Following Cain’s first points, senior guard Hannah Whitish hit a shot from behind the arc and Cain converted an and-one to give the Huskers an early 8-2 lead.

The Golden Eagle offense came back with two quick 3-pointers by junior guard Keni Jo Lippe to make the score 9-8.

Lippe led the Golden Eagles with 21 points and seven rebounds. Lippe is second in the nation in free throw attempts, so Williams noted in the post-game press conference that one of the team’s goals was to limit Lippe’s trips to the line. The Huskers succeeded in doing so, as Lippe shot just two free throws.

Oral Roberts continued to trail until a made layup gave them a 15-13 lead with under 2:30 to play in the first quarter.

With under a minute to go, sophomore forward Leigha Brown took it to the hoop to take the lead back. However, Oral Roberts answered to regain the lead and make the score 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.

In the first few minutes of the second quarter, the lead continued to go back and forth. However, after Cain tied it up at 21 with a made free throw, Nebraska began to pull away with the lead.

In the second half of the quarter, sophomore guard Sam Haiby had a steal and went for a layup, but missed. However, seconds later, senior guard Kristian Hudson stole the ball again and gave Haiby a second chance. Haiby made the layup this time around, increasing the lead to 32-25.

Haiby had a team-high 20 points and four steals on the game. This was Haiby’s second 20-point game of the season. Many of her points came off breakaway layups that were caused by good defense.

“I thought everyone contributed, a lot of deflections and steals so obviously that led to a lot of breakout layups. So props to my teammates for getting those steals and I just happened to be the one getting the points,” Haiby said.

Williams also pointed out that a lot of Haiby’s offensive production was from defense.

“Probably the difference in the game was some of those steals and run-outs for layups that we were able to get and I thought [Haiby] really kind of led the way in that area and sparked us,” Williams said.

With under two minutes to go in the half, Whitish hit a 3-pointer to make it 37-25.

At the half, it was a 10 point game, sitting at 40-30. 

Haiby continued to spark the offense in the third quarter, recording an and-one and an additional layup within the first two minutes to make the score 47-35.

With 6:38 left in the quarter, senior guard Nicea Eliely got a steal and an assist to Haiby for another layup.

Eliely had a team high of seven assists and also recorded three steals on the afternoon.

With under three minutes in the quarter, Brown got an and-one to bring the score to 56-44. Brown was one of three Nebraska players to reach double-digit points, with a total of 15.

The end of the third quarter consisted of some familiar events, with Haiby getting another breakaway layup and Brown getting another and-one, making it 63-50 with one more quarter left to play.

In the fourth quarter, the lead continued to increase. The first half of the fourth consisted of a layup from Cain and 3-pointer from Haiby. The Golden Eagles answered with a couple made shots from behind the arc, however, the Huskers still held on to the 70-61 lead with five minutes left to play.

The last Nebraska points of the game were from yet another Haiby layup, concluding her 20-point game.  

“I thought that we came out today and had to overcome some adversity, found a way to get a win, and accomplish some of the goals that we set out for this game,” Williams said.

Some of the adversity the team has had to face is injury related. After junior guard/forward Taylor Kissinger had her best game of the year with six 3-pointers and 19 points last game, they recently found out she’ll be out for the rest of the season with a hip injury that she will have surgery on. She is eligible for a medical redshirt at this time.

Earlier this week in practice, senior guard/forward Grace Mitchell went down with a shoulder injury. Freshman guard Trinity Brady is also recovering from injury at this time.

After moving to 9-1, Nebraska players noted that they are playing with confidence because this is a much better start than last season. Through the first 10 games last season, Nebraska was 5-5.

“We definitely knew we had the talent and potential to do as well as we’re doing and we kind of just have to keep feeding off that and keep pushing through because we can’t get complacent, we can’t get too comfortable,” Cain said.

On Sun. December 22, Nebraska will take on Manhattan at 12 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena. This will be their last game before Big Ten play begins.

“Conference play is a whole new monster, so we just got to take these [wins] and build from it,” Cain said.

Williams put an emphasis on the need for continued intensity from her team. 

“We need to practice every time we get the opportunity to practice with the level of intensity that you have to have to win games in the Big Ten. There is no coasting,” Williams said.