Haiby Wisconsin 1.28.2021

Nebraska's Sam Haiby (4) goes up for a shot during the game against Wisconsin at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska women’s basketball started the game the same way they finished it, failing to stop the Rutgers offense and falling short in the end, 78-62.

Rutgers senior guard Tekia Mack scored a game-high 26 points as the Scarlet Knights defended their homecourt against the Huskers.

Mack lit it up early in the game, scoring 10 straight points in the second quarter and dropping 17 in the first half while freshman guard Diamond Johnson put up 13 in the first two periods.

Nebraska’s typically solid defense, which allowed just 50 points to Rutgers in the last matchup between the two teams, gave up 43 points in the first half on Sunday. On offense, team scoring leader and junior guard Sam Haiby couldn't get much going in the first half as she put up just seven points on just 2-of-5 shooting. 

Returning from injury recently, sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne continued to help the Huskers on the interior, blocking two shots in the half while helping senior forward Kate Cain defend the Big Ten scoring leader from last season, senior guard Arella Guirantes. Guirantes only put up seven points in the first half but also contributed with two steals and a block.

After an 11-0 run in the second quarter by Rutgers, the Huskers barely kept up. Freshman guard Ashley Scoggin hit a near-30-foot 3-pointer in the second quarter to give the Huskers a tiny bit of life down the stretch of the first half, eventually leading to a 43-31 advantage for Rutgers at the break.

The Scarlet Knights lit it up in the first 20 minutes, shooting 51.6% from the field and 54.5% from beyond the arc. Mack and Johnson accounted for 30 of those points. 

Following the first half, the Huskers once again struggled to score.

A media timeout called with 6:07 left in the third quarter marked almost four minutes without a field goal for the Huskers to open the second half, leaving them down 17 points and still without an answer on either side of the ball.

Johnson continued to play well for Rutgers in the third quarter, converting an and-one that extended the lead to 50-33 right before the timeout. Nebraska fought back to end the quarter, as a 12-2 run helped cut the deficit to 59-49 going into the final frame.

The fourth quarter went poorly for the Huskers, as the difference never got closer than eight points. Nebraska had five turnovers in the final period and scored just 13 points, with nine coming from Haiby. Rutgers didn’t have an especially impressive quarter either, but its 19 points were enough to easily seal the win.

Mack and Johnson finished the game with 48 combined points on 18-of-27 shooting. Guirantes added 17 points, but on 5-of-21 shooting.

Unfortunately for the Huskers, they could not stop turning the ball over, finishing with 19 turnovers compared to the Scarlet Knights’ 10, a key to their dominant start and finish.

Haiby picked it up for the Huskers in the second half but it was too little too late, finishing with a team-high 20 points while shooting 50% from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line. Bourne got knocked out of the game with another leg injury in the second half, with her future status in question for Nebraska’s next game against Iowa at home on Wednesday.

That Wednesday night contest will take place at 7 p.m. against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Pinnacle Bank Arena.