The Nebraska women’s basketball team could not keep up against ninth-ranked Maryland down the stretch as it lost to the Terrapins 81-63 Tuesday.
Nebraska’s five game home win streak was snapped, and the Huskers are now 0-4 on the season against ranked opponents.
Nebraska never led or even tied the game, but kept it close for the majority of the contest.
Right out of the gate, Maryland showed why it is a top 10 team. Less than 15 seconds in, Maryland freshman forward Shakira Austin found junior forward Stephanie Jones under the basket for an and-one layup.
On the ensuing possession, Austin got a steal. Maryland then missed a three pointer, but Austin got the offensive rebound and Maryland junior guard Kaila Charles scored to make the lead 5-0.
The rest of the quarter was hard fought, as Nebraska stayed in the game and only trailed 23-26 at the end of the opening quarter. Both Charles and Nebraska junior guard Hannah Whitish scored 8 points in the period. However, Whitish went 0-9 in the remainder of the game and only scored one more point.
Throughout the game, Maryland responded well to every push Nebraska made. With 2:21 in the second quarter, Nebraska sophomore forward Taylor Kissinger made a three-pointer to bring a seven-point Maryland lead back down to four. Maryland responded by scoring the next six points and taking a 10-point lead, its biggest of the game to that point.
Nebraska made another small run and scored the last four points of the half, cutting the lead down to 43-37 at halftime. Maryland’s offense shined in the first half, shooting 51.6 percent, including 75 percent from the three-point line. Nebraska shot 39.4 percent in the half, and shot 55.6 percent from three. The Huskers did not make another three pointer for the rest of the game.
Nebraska had their chances to come back early in the second half, as it forced two turnovers on Maryland’s first two possessions. However, the Huskers did not capitalize, missing two layups on the other end off those turnovers.
The Huskers did still mounted another comeback effort, scoring six of the first eight points in the half and cutting the lead down to two. Again, Maryland kept the huskers out of reach, going on a 12-2 run over the next four minutes. Maryland’s game plan helped them go on this run and pull away.
“They did a really good job putting us into positions where we were playing one-on-one defense which is not a strength of ours,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said. “We need to be a very good defensive team, be able to help each other on defense.”
The score at the end of the third quarter was 61-49, but the Terrapins truly broke the game open in the final period. Nebraska showed some spark again to start the fourth, going on a 7-2 run and cutting the lead down to 7. Maryland then put the game away, one-upping the Huskers yet again and going on a 15-2 run to bring the lead to 20 points with 3:26 left to play.
Nebraska played Maryland evenly in the first half, but the Terrapins pulled away late, thanks in part to their versatile offense.“They can come at you in so many ways,” Williams said. “They’ve got great size, they can really pound it inside and hammer you, they can take you one-on-one off the dribble, they got some prolific shooters on the perimeter, they can just really come at you in a lot of different ways.
There are some positives to be taken away from a loss like this for the Huskers. Maryland is a top-10 rebounding team, but the Huskers outrebounded the Terrapins 38-37.
“We knew they were a good rebounding team,” Nebraska sophomore center Kate Cain said. “One of our big things in the game plan was we had to out-rebound them if we wanted a chance to win this.”
Despite out-rebounding Maryland 14-10 on the offensive glass, Maryland had more second chance points than the Huskers.
“We’ve got to find a way that when we make those hustle plays and we go get offensive rebounds to really make them pay,” Williams said. “Everytime they (Maryland) got an offensive rebound it seemed they would kick out and hit a dagger three on us and really capitalize on the offensive rebound.”
Charles led the game in scoring with 19 points on 8-14 shooting, and added four rebounds.
No Nebraska players scored in double digits in the game, but junior guard Nicea Eliely turned in a good performance with nine points on 4-5 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.
Nebraska will look to bounce back from the two-game skid against Rutgers on Sunday, Jan. 13 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.