Nebraska showed once again that it can come out on top, despite not playing its best against SIU Edwardsville on Sunday. Mistakes and scoring droughts occurred, but the Huskers continued to fight hard and beat the Cougars with a final score of 63-49.
There seemed to be a different player for the Huskers (4-0) who stepped up in each quarter bringing energy to the team.
After senior guard Nicea Eliely scored the first basket of the game, SIU Edwardsville (1-3) answered quickly with a made 3-pointer.
The Husker offense really began to step it up later in the first quarter, with Nebraska scoring nine unanswered points. Senior guard Hannah Whitish hit a 3-pointer, followed by sophomore forward Leigha Brown putting in two more 3-pointers.
At the end of the first quarter, Huskers led 19-14.
In between the first and second quarter, the 2009-10 women’s basketball team was welcomed back, who were possibly the best team in Nebraska history. They went 32-2 and made it to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, but fell to Kentucky.
The second quarter was an offensive struggle for the Huskers, with only four points scored in the entire period.
“Our problem was not having enough energy,” Eliely said.
Nebraska’s first points of the quarter were scored by freshman forward Isabelle Bourne to make the score 21-16 with 5:49 left in the half.
The Cougars were not able to take advantage of the drought as the half ended 23-22.
Sophomore forward Ashtyn Veerbeek dominated the third quarter, scoring eight of her 10 points in the third quarter.
Sophomore guard Sam Haiby also brought energy to the offense, with six of her eight total points coming in the third quarter.
“Being out there when there’s momentum, I love that,” Veerbeek said.
She helped start that momentum which ended with the Huskers leading 44-32 at the end of the third quarter.
Eliely came to life in the fourth quarter. She had a team-high 13 points throughout the game, and eight of those came from the fourth quarter. Eliely also recorded a double-double with a team-high 10 rebounds and four steals throughout the game.
Eliely admitted that Nebraska’s depth showed in the fourth quarter of each game. However, she isn’t satisfied with just rallying for the fourth quarter.
“Every quarter should be ours,” Eliely said.
SIU Edwardsville’s leader in points per game and co-leader in assists per game so far this season, senior guard Bria Stallworth, is a former Husker. Stallworth’s last season with the Huskers was the 2017-18 season.
Stallworth had a team high nine points for the Cougars.
“It was fun, I miss playing with her and I miss her being on the team,” Eliely said about her former teammate.
The past two games for the Huskers have come against noticeably scrappy teams. Veerbeek believes this can help them in future games because it challenges them to value the ball.
Nebraska now moves to 4-0, but Eliely will be the first to point out that a few of the games have looked rough. Brown and Eliely agree that although some things need to be fixed, it’s reassuring to know they can win games without playing at their full potential.
Brown pointed out that after losing so many close games last year, it brings a new sense of determination to the team this season.
The Huskers will return to play on Wednesday, Nov. 20 against Southern at 7 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.