The Nebraska women’s basketball team opened its regular season with a 83-77 loss in a nail biter against Drake Wednesday night.
Drake is not an unfamiliar opponent for the Huskers. Last year, Nebraska beat the Bulldogs 89-84 in a game that went to double overtime.
The Huskers began the game strong, starting the game on a 14-0 run that included four three-pointers. Nebraska would go on to hold its lead, ending the first quarter with a 29-15 advantage. The first-quarter showing was punctuated by an emphatic block by freshman forward Ashtyn Veerbeek in the last minute.
The second quarter belonged to the Bulldogs, as they outscored Nebraska 30-7. Nebraska shot 2-17 in the quarter, which included a seven-minute span where the Huskers scored two points and did not convert a single field goal. Drake shot 71 percent from the field and 88 percent from the three-point line in the period to raise its game percentages to 42.9 percent and 47.4 percent, respectively.
Drake ended its best quarter of the game with a 45-36 lead. Drake Head coach Jennie Baranczyk said getting the ball inside played a major role in the second quarter.
“They really rattled us, obviously in the first quarter, I think with their length,” Baranczyk said. “We did better in the second quarter with being able to get some paint touches, whether or not we shot in the paint.”
Out of the break, Nebraska worked its way back into the game, cutting the lead down to three by the end of the quarter. Junior guard Nicea Eliely, senior guard Kristian Hudson and freshman guard Sam Haiby led the comeback effort in the quarter, with each of them scoring five of the team’s 21 third-quarter points.
Haiby said they were able to adjust well to not let the game get out of hand.
“We knew that they’re a good shooting team, they live off their offense, we knew they were going to come out firing again,” Haiby said. “We just had to stay together.”
The fourth quarter was the closest of the game, as the score stayed tight down to the final seconds. Down five with 30 seconds left, the Huskers turned the ball over and sent Drake to the line to put the Bulldogs up 78-71. Despite Nebraska’s best efforts in the final seconds, Drake would end up coming away with the 83-77 win.
Drake junior guard Becca Hittner led the game with 19 points, and the Bulldogs also had four other players crack double figures.
For Nebraska, Sam Haiby led the team in scoring, putting up 13 points on 4-7 shooting and going 4-4 on free throws. The rest of the team also did well, with every player putting points on the board.
Head Coach Amy Williams said this is just a result of how the team plays.
“It’s just kind of a natural thing with our style of play,” Williams said. “The way that we attack and the fact that we feel like we have 11 players that are confident enough to make plays, it’s not necessarily something we focus on.”
Nebraska gave up 24 points off turnovers and 15 second-chance points, and Williams made sure to make note of that.
“Two very glaring things that stand out that are tough to overcome no matter who the opponent is,” Williams said. “You can’t turn the ball over twenty times and you can’t give up 19 offensive rebounds.”
The Huskers will look to improve and get back on track at home on Nov. 11 against USC Upstate.