Porter Wisconsin 1.28.2021

Nebraska's Ruby Porter (11) loses the ball during the game against Wisconsin at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A once formidable defense, collapsed yet again.

Maryland showed why it is a top 10 team on Sunday as the Terrapins came into Lincoln and destroyed the Huskers, 95-73.

After holding opponents to just 61.4 points per game in the month of January, the Husker defense is allowing 86.5 points on average through four February contests. For the second straight game, Nebraska allowed the most points it has all season.

Maryland could not be stopped from the opening tip, scoring at will while also instituting a full court press to keep the Huskers frantic. In the first half alone, Nebraska had eight turnovers, leading to 10 easy points on the other end.

“The offensive transition is amazingly quick, how quick they can get the ball out but also if they get a steal, they just run and get the ball up the court, it's impressive and it's really, really hard to defend,” sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne said postgame.

2020 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ashley Owusu controlled the ball early for the Terps, ending the first quarter with seven points and three assists while fellow standout sophomore guard Diamond Miller finished the half with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Senior forward Chloe Bibby was the highest scorer in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring a total of 16 points in the first two quarters to go along with five rebounds.

“That’s the hardest thing, they have 5 players who are incredibly versatile, they can all play all positions so that was the hardest thing about it; anyone could take it up the floor anyone could take it out,” Bourne.

For the Huskers, freshman guard Ruby Porter and senior center Kate Cain finally got going on offense in the first half, each scoring 10 points on a combined 8-of-9 shooting. 

Junior guard Sam Haiby had herself a very quiet first half offensively, only getting one tough layup to go. Nebraska’s offense simply couldn’t keep up with Maryland, as the Terrapins led 51-33 at halftime while shooting 61% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc. 

The Huskers made a push early in the second half, going on an 8-0 scoring run to cut the deficit to 56-44 and force a Maryland timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Porter hit another tough jumper with the shot clock running down to extend the run to 10-0, getting the Huskers to within double digits. Another jumper by Miler countered Nebraska’s momentum, however. Inconsistency on the offensive end has hurt the Huskers all season, and that didn’t change today. 

After getting the game back to within 10 points, the Huskers went cold from the field. Maryland ended the third quarter on a 21-4 run, shooting 10-of-14 over the last 5:30 of the period. All four misses were rebounded by the Terrapins.

At the end of the third quarter, Maryland led 77-50 behind an explosive third quarter from Owusu, scoring 12 points in the third and finishing the first three periods with a total of 23 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Porter got up to 17 points, one of three Huskers in double digit points to start the fourth quarter.

With 7:24 left in the game, it was just about too far gone for the Huskers to recover, now down 21 points. After a few minutes of garbage time, the Terrapins left Lincoln the victors at 95-73.

Other than Porter, who finished with 19 points, the only bright spots for Nebraska were Bourne, as she scored 17 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds and five assists, and Cain, who finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds.

“It’s good to see her (Isabelle Bourne) getting back into a flow and gaining all of her confidence back,” said coach Amy Williams.

As Nebraska’s leading scorer on the season, Haiby finished with just seven points, a disappointing outing for the junior guard in one of the biggest games of the season. As a team, the Huskers shot 49.2% compared to the Terrapins' 55.7%, a fine mark offensively but heinous defensively. 

Behind the arc, the Huskers shot just 4-of-17 (23.5%) while Maryland went 8-of-19 (42.1%). Overall, Nebraska simply did not have enough production from either end of the floor Sunday, a constant struggle for the team.

The Huskers return to action Wednesday against the Northwestern Wildcats.