The Nebraska women’s basketball team defeated Purdue 84-64 on Thursday night behind a strong performance from junior guard Hannah Whitish. The Huskers improved to 10-11 (5-5 Big Ten) with the win.
Whitish finished the game with 28 points, including six three-pointers, tying a career-high, and 12 assists to cap off a double-double. Freshman forward Ashtyn Veerbeek finished just shy of a double-double with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds off the bench.
Freshman forward Sam Haiby and junior guard Nicea Eliely also finished in double digits, scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Purdue’s big three of junior guard Dominique Oden, junior forward Ae’rianna Harris and sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin all had productive evenings, finishing with 18, 15 and 13 points, respectively. The rest of the Boilermakers combined for just 18 points.
The Huskers jumped out to an early advantage in the first quarter. Whitish got the scoring started on Nebraska’s first possession to put the Huskers up 3-0. Eliely then scored five straight points after Purdue’s first bucket to give Nebraska an 8-2 edge halfway through the first quarter.
After giving up just one bucket through the first five minutes of play, the Huskers only gave up two more the rest of the first quarter. After Harris’ second basket for Purdue made it 8-4, Nebraska got scores on two straight possessions from Veerbeek to extend the lead to 12-4. Veerbeek also had six rebounds in the first quarter.
Haiby and Whitish each hit three-pointers on the Huskers’ final two possessions of the first quarter to give Nebraska an 18-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Husker offense stayed consistent with what it had done in the first quarter, but Purdue’s offense was more productive in the second period. After scoring six points in the first 10 minutes, the Boilermakers put up 22 points in the second quarter.
When the period started it seemed as if the second quarter would be like the first. The Huskers started the quarter on a 9-3 run including Whitish’s third three-pointer of the night to make it 27-9, forcing Purdue to call a timeout.
The Boilermaker offense then woke up after the pause in play and started to close the gap. Purdue went on an 8-2 scoring run, with five of the points coming from McLaughlin, to close the gap to 29-17 and force a Nebraska timeout.
After a layup from freshman forward Kayla Mershon made it 31-17 with four minutes left until half, Purdue cut into the Huskers’ advantage. The Boilermakers went on an 11-0 run over three minutes to make it a one possession game at 31-28 with just a minute left until halftime.
The Huskers ended the run with a layup from Veerbeek and Whitish made a three just before half to send Nebraska into the locker room up 36-28.
After halftime, Nebraska pulled away from Purdue in the third quarter. Oden got the scoring started for Purdue with a layup, and Harris made a bucket as well, but five points by Eliely to open the half for Nebraska made it 41-32.
The teams continued to match each other, as both Whitish and Oden sank three-pointers, and at the media timeout in the third quarter, the Huskers led 48-39.
Purdue only scored four more points in the quarter, all from Oden, while Nebraska earned 14 more. Whitish notched her sixth three of the night during this run and Haiby drained a half court buzzer-beater to close out the quarter. After outscoring the Boilermakers 26-15 in the quarter, Nebraska entered the fourth up 62-43.
At that point, the deficit was too much for Purdue to make up. The Boilermakers ran a full-court press for most of the final quarter, but nothing could disrupt Nebraska’s flow. The smallest deficit Purdue faced was 15 points the rest of the way.
The Boilermakers unraveled halfway through the fourth when the team was assessed two technicals within a minute of playing time. One was assessed to Purdue’s bench while the team’s head coach, Sharon Versyp, got called for the other.
Nebraska finished the game out and collected an 84-64 victory. Its largest lead of the game was 22 points when it led 84-62 with just under a minute to play.
The Huskers return to Pinnacle Bank Arena for their next contest. Nebraska will face the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday, Feb. 3. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. and the game will air on BTN Plus.