Nebraska women’s basketball lost for the fourth time in five games, falling to Michigan 67-61 on the road Thursday.
The Huskers beat Michigan earlier this season, when they beat the Wolverines 70-56 at home on Dec. 28.
Michigan is now 10-1 at home on the season, with that one loss coming to Michigan State.
Early in this game, Michigan had an injury scare. With under four minutes left to go in the first quarter, freshman starting guard Amy Dilk went up and made a layup, giving Michigan a 10-8 lead. However, Dilk landed awkwardly, and grabbed her knee as she fell to the ground. Eventually, she got up and walked off the floor with the help of coaches, but sat out for the remainder of the game.
Despite Dilk’s injury, Michigan did not slow down. After Nebraska freshman forward Leigha Brown hit a three-pointer with 2:58 left in the first quarter, Michigan went on a 7-0 run to take a 17-11 lead. Nebraska freshman guard Sam Haiby then answered, hitting a buzzer-beating layup to cut the deficit to four heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Michigan began to extend its lead. With 4:18 to go in the half, the Wolverines held their largest lead of the game at 10 points. Junior guard Hannah Whitish answered with a three-pointer for Nebraska eight seconds later, giving her eight first-half points.
This would not be the end of Nebraska’s push to cut the lead. Michigan sophomore forward Hailey Brown countered Whitish’s bucket, hitting a layup with 3:15 to go in the period and bringing the lead back to nine. From there, the Huskers went on a 10-2 run to close the half, trailing 35-32.
Junior guard Akienreh Johnson led the first half charge for Michigan with eight points, two assists and four steals. Michigan shot 53.3 percent in the half, while Nebraska only shot 46.4 percent.
The second half got off to a slow start, as both teams only scored six points through the first five minutes of play. Whitish’s jumper with 6:29 left began an 8-2 run that gave Nebraska a 44-43 lead, its first lead since the first quarter.
With under a minute left, Hailey Brown made a layup to tie the game at 46. On the subsequent possession, Nebraska sophomore guard Taylor Kissinger, the Big Ten three-point percentage leader, hit a three to give the Huskers a three-point lead. This shot snapped a streak of 10 straight missed three-pointers for Kissinger, including three missed three-pointers she had earlier in the game.
After Michigan junior forward Kayla Robbins hit a wide-open fastbreak layup to end the quarter, Nebraska led 49-48 going into the final period.
On Dec. 28, Nebraska used a high-scoring, 33-point fourth quarter to get past the Wolverines. This time, Nebraska did exactly the opposite. With 8:01 to go, Whitish hit sophomore center Kate Cain for a layup that gave Nebraska a 51-48 lead.
After that, the Huskers went on a scoring drought that lasted until the 1:37 mark when Cain scored again. Up until that point, Nebraska had gone 1-10 from the field in the quarter and turned the ball over five times.
The Wolverines capitalized off Nebraska’s horrid quarter, but they took their time doing it. Michigan didn’t make a shot until the 2:23 mark of the quarter, and turned the ball over six times in the first seven minutes of the period.
Despite missing its first nine shots of the fourth quarter, Michigan found a way to get back in the game. Michigan’s first point of the quarter came at the line, as senior center Hallie Thome hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game with 7:50 left.
Later in the quarter, Michigan got to the free-throw line again with the chance to tie the game. This time, it was freshman forward Naz Hillmon hitting two free throws to knot the game up at 51 with 3:34 left.
Three possessions later, Michigan heard the sweet sound of the whistle yet again. Thome went to the line, but this time hit both to give the Wolverines a 53-51 lead with 2:33 left to go.
After that point, the game started to break open. On the next possession, Michigan pressed Nebraska, forcing a bad pass from junior guard Nicea Eliely that ended up in the hands of Johnson. Johnson took advantage of her sixth steal, finishing at the rim for Michigan’s first field goal of the quarter.
Nebraska took the ball up the court on the ensuing possession and turned it over again. This time it was Whitish coughing it up, and Hillmon finished at the rim for the and-one layup, making the score 58-51.
The Huskers scored their second field goal of the quarter on the next possession to cut the deficit to five. Nebraska then made a play on the other end as well, as Whitish stripped the ball from Hillmon with 1:12 left to give the Huskers a chance.
However, Nebraska missed yet another opportunity when Veerbeek missed a three-pointer. Johnson went to the line, and made two free throws to bring the lead back up to seven.
Whitish missed a three-pointer on the next possession, and Michigan was sent to the line again. Hillmon missed the first, but made the second to bring the margin to 61-53.
Nebraska needed a miracle if it wanted to salvage the terrible quarter and have any chance of coming back, and Kissinger tried her best to make that happen. On the next possession, she hit a three-pointer from around NBA range to cut the lead to five.
Thome went to the line for Michigan again on the next possession, and hit the first free throw. She missed the second, but Nebraska was unable to control the rebound as it went out of bounds off of the Huskers. Senior guard Nicole Munger also hit one of two free throws, putting the lead at seven with 23 seconds left.
Out of Nebraska’s last timeout, Kissinger hit another long-range bomb that was as deep as the first This cut the deficit to four with 21 seconds left.
Michigan sophomore guard Deja Church hit two free throws right after Kissinger’s three-pointer, but Sam Haiby quickly responded by getting downcourt for a layup with 11 seconds left.
Church went to the line again, but this time missed both free throws. Nebraska had a legitimate shot to get back in the game, but Haiby missed the layup this time, sealing the Huskers’ fate.
Throughout the game, both teams had a balanced offensive attack. 16 players, eight for both teams, scored in the game.
Whitish led Nebraska in scoring in the loss, as she racked up 13 points on 5-11 shooting. Kissinger and Cain also impressed with 12 points apiece. Cain added three blocks as well.
For Michigan, Hillmon led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Johnson scored 14 points, while collecting six steals.
One of Nebraska’s biggest strengths this season has been its bench. However, Michigan’s bench outscored Nebraska’s 37-20.
Michigan scored more efficiently overall, shooting 42.9 percent to Nebraska’s 41.7 percent. The Wolverines also dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Huskers 41-29
Nebraska, now 10-13, will look to get back on track against Purdue, an opponent it beat earlier in the year. The game will take place on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.