Women's Basketball vs. Tarleton State No. 27

Nebraska’s Alexis Markowski (40) jumps to rebound the ball during the game against Tarleton at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, in Lincoln, NE.

Nebraska bounced back from back-to-back losses with a 71-53 victory over Tarleton on Tuesday night. 

Despite the 18-point differential, the contest was largely back-and-forth, as the Texans stuck with the Huskers for the first three quarters. Nebraska never trailed but didn’t pull away until the final 10 minutes. 

The Huskers dealt with shooting woes on Tuesday, hitting an uncharacteristic 17% clip on 3-pointers, but their domination in the paint proved to be the difference. Sophomore center Alexis Markowski had a spectacular outing, racking up 24 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Junior forward Isabelle Bourne added a double-double herself, 14 points and 10 rebounds, as Nebraska outscored Tarleton 50-14 in the paint. 

“We had an emphasis on rebounding today,” Bourne said postgame. “We wanted to keep driving it to the boards. Obviously we want to be able to get more second-chance points, and that will come.” 

The Huskers got off to a slow start, scoring just 12 points in the first quarter. Sophomore guard Allison Weidner started off the scoring for Nebraska, but it came at a price. After two missed Husker threes and offensive rebounds, Weidner hit a layup with two women all over her to put Nebraska up 2-0. After the score, she came up limp with an eye injury and left the court, never to return. 

The Huskers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to a 3-pointer from junior guard Trinity Brady. It didn’t last long, though, as Tarleton junior guard Viktoria Ivanova responded with back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game 6-6. 

Nebraska struggled to put the ball in the basket, but strong offensive rebounding bailed it out for second-chance opportunities. The Huskers notched seven offensive boards in the first quarter alone while shooting just 26% from the field. Tarleton didn’t fare much better early, though, and two Bourne layups extended Nebraska’s lead to 10-6 before the first media timeout. 

“It took us a little while to kind of figure out what their game plan was and try to adjust accordingly,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “So that maybe led to a little bit of a slow start.” 

With 4:05 left in the first quarter, freshman guard Callin Hake drove to the paint and scored to move the Husker advantage to 12-6. However, for the remainder of the quarter, and even beyond, Nebraska fell into a complete scoring drought. The Huskers held a slim 12-8 lead at the conclusion of the first frame. 

The pace of play sped up mightily in the second quarter as the Texans quickly tied the game at 12-12. Nebraska finally broke through after five scoreless minutes with an inside feed to Markowski, who laid it in to give the Huskers a 14-12 lead. That began a 9-0 Nebraska run in under 90 seconds, capped off by two more Bourne layups. 

Senior guard Sam Haiby made her surprise return to the court on Tuesday after suffering a once-thought season-ending injury in September. After back-and-forth scores, she fed Markowski for a layup — shades of 2021-22 — to extend Nebraska’s lead to 26-15. 

“It was outstanding to see [Haiby] back on the floor,” Williams said. “I think her presence just brings a real comfort to our team…I know she makes her team feel really comfortable.”

Facing its largest deficit yet, Tarleton began to rally. The Texans put together a 7-1 run, shrinking their deficit to 27-22 with 2:31 left in the first half. This effort was spearheaded by junior guard Teresa Da Silva, who scored 10 points in the second quarter after being held scoreless in the first. The Huskers had no answer for Da Silva, and she made them pay all night long. She finished with 24 points but needed 25 shots to do so. 

Markowski and Da Silva traded baskets in the final moments of the first half, but the former got the last word with a layup as time expired. Markowski also started to heat up in the second quarter after not scoring in the first, and never slowed down. The Huskers took a 31-24 advantage into halftime. 

Nebraska came out of the break firing. Brady hit her second 3-pointer of the night to jumpstart a 9-0 Husker run, extending their lead to 40-24 with 7:44 left in the third quarter. Markowski scored the next five Husker points, but after trailing 45-27, Tarleton rattled off an 8-0 scoring run. 

This was a theme throughout the contest, as each team traded massive scoring runs and droughts. Markowski and Da Silva provided most of their respective team’s offensive output, combining for 20 of the third quarter’s 37 total points 

Markowski continued her massive night with a 3-pointer to end the Texans’ run and extend the Nebraska lead to 48-37. But Da Silva once again had an answer. She drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to bring Tarleton within five, 48-43, and force a Nebraska timeout. 

“I thought she got in a rhythm and became really difficult to defend,” Williams said of Da Silva. “At that point, the best thing you can do is to try and make her work as hard as possible. If a kid has to take 25 shots to get 24 points then we’re probably doing something to make them work.” 

The Huskers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Texans 23-10. Bourne and Markowski continued to produce as they had all game long, but junior guard Jaz Shelly and sophomore guard Kendall Moriarty combined for 11 points in the period after combining for only five up to that point. Their added contribution, along with a stronger defensive effort, ushered in a dominant final quarter and a 71-53 victory. 

The Huskers will head to the airport at 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Markowski, for a flight to Puerto Rico. There, they will compete in the Puerto Rico Clasico on Friday and Saturday.