The Nebraska women’s basketball team lost another close game, as it fell 82-78 to Indiana at home.
Of Nebraska’s six Big Ten losses, five of them have been by six points or less.
“We really need to find a way to get over the hump and come out on the top side, particularly at home in this conference,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said.
Nebraska held the lead at the end of the first quarter in five straight games coming into the game. This game was no different, as Nebraska outscored Indiana 17-12 in the period. The Hoosiers turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the game, helping Nebraska jump out to an early 8-2 lead.
Junior guard Hannah Whitish, who had a season-high 28 points in the last game for the Huskers, continued to play well, scoring six points in the first quarter.
Nebraska’s defense shined in the first quarter as well as it held Indiana to 25 percent shooting. The Huskers forced five turnovers and blocked two shots.
In the second quarter, Indiana took control of the game. The Hoosiers scored the first four points of the quarter off two Nebraska turnovers. From there, the Hoosiers began to heat up. With 8:20 to go in the half, sophomore guard Jaelyn Penn missed a three-pointer. After that, Indiana went on to score on its next eight possessions. After an 8-0 Indiana run, the Hoosiers led 30-25 with 4:14 to go in the quarter. However, the Huskers were able to withstand the run with their offensive play, and only trailed 36-32 going into halftime.
Indiana shot 73 percent in the quarter, hitting 11-15 shots. The Hoosiers were led by senior forward Kym Royster, who racked up 12 points on 4-4 shooting and six rebounds in the half. Junior guard Ali Patberg also made an impact, scoring eight points to go along with four assists and two rebounds.
In the third quarter, Indiana continued to play well offensively. After Nebraska tied the game at 36 early in the third, the Hoosiers went on a 13-2 run, which included their first two three-pointers of the game. With 3:13 left in the period, freshman guard Grace Berger hit a three-pointer, extending Indiana’s lead to 12, its biggest of the game.
However, Nebraska stayed relentless and went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to five points. Royster stopped the run with a layup with a minute left in the quarter, and Indiana ended up getting a shot clock violation with just under six seconds left to go.
Before Nebraska inbounded to end the quarter, freshman guard Sam Haiby came in the game. Haiby got the ball off the inbound and used her speed to go coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup, making the score 60-55.
“She’s pretty quick with the ball in her hands,” Williams said of her decision to sub Haiby in for that situation. “We know she can create for herself and others in a hurry.”
In the fourth quarter, Haiby led the Husker’s comeback effort. With 5:14 left in the quarter, Haiby went to the line and hit one of two free throws to cut the deficit to 68-66. After an Indiana miss, Haiby got fouled again on a layup attempt. This time, she sunk both to tie the game.
Indiana quickly answered, as Patberg nailed a three-pointer on the very next possession. Haiby came back again, hitting a layup to make the score 71-70 Indiana. Indiana answered again, as Penn hit two free throws and followed that up with a three-pointer to give the Hoosiers a six-point lead with 2:09 left to play.
Nebraska refused to go away, as a Whitish three-pointer brought the Huskers back within two points with just over a minute left. On the next five possessions, the teams went back-and-forth shooting free throws. Indiana went 5-6, while Nebraska went 4-4 from the line.
After the final two free throws of the sequence gave Indiana a three-point lead, Nebraska had the ball with 24 seconds left and a chance to tie the game. Freshman forward Ashtyn Veerbeek missed a three, but senior forward Maddie Simon was there to grab the rebound. Simon then kicked it out to sophomore guard Taylor Kissinger, the Big Ten’s leader in three-point percentage coming into the game. Kissinger also missed, but the Huskers caught another break. Berger grabbed the rebound for Indiana, but then was called for a travel.
Whitish inbounded the ball from the baseline, got it back, and was fouled before she could get a shot off. With a chance to cut the deficit to one, Whitish missed both free throws.
Royster grabbed the rebound and was fouled, giving Indiana a chance to seal the game. Royster did exactly that, hitting one of two free throws. Without a timeout, Nebraska had to rush the ball down court. Kissinger’s three missed again as the buzzer sounded, as Indiana walked away with the close win.
Kissinger went 0-5 on three-pointers, making her 0-7 in the last two games.
Royster finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Patberg added 22 points and six assists for the Hoosiers.
Haiby and Whitish led the Huskers in scoring with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Nebraska played extremely well in the first and last quarters of the game. Not playing as well in the second and third played a role in the Huskers losing.
“We have yet to put together a full, 40-minute ballgame where we can feel like we were strong in all four quarters.” Williams said.
Nebraska will have a chance to rebound next game, as it will face off against Michigan, a team it has already beat this season, on the road on Feb. 7.