Huskers fall to Cougars at South Point Shootout - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Huskers fall to Cougars at South Point Shootout

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Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: NU Media Relations

Las Vegas - Jessica Shepard produced her second 20-point performance of the season, but the Nebraska women's basketball team surrendered an 18-0 run that spanned the end of the second quarter and start of the third in a 79-64 loss to Washington State at the South Point Shootout on Friday night.With the loss, Nebraska slipped to 3-2 on the young season while Washington State improved to 4-1.

The Huskers trailed by as many 30 points midway through the third quarter, before Nebraska rallied to make it a game early in the fourth quarter. WSU took its biggest lead at 68-38 after a jumper by Pinelopi Pavopoulou with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, but the Huskers stormed back to cut the lead to 73-62 after Shepard and Hannah Whitish combined for 10 straight points with 7:12 left.

After a Washington State timeout, Borislava Hristlova stopped Nebraska's 10-0 run with a 12-foot jumper and the Huskers were unable to get any closer.

After giving up a season-high 54 points in the first half, the Huskers held Washington State to just 25 points in the second half to stay within striking distance. Shepard finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds. Shepard hit 11-of-17 shots from the field, including 1-of-2 threes.

No other Husker managed double figures, but Whitish scored eight second-half points to help spark the Husker rally. Sophomore guard Maddie Simon added seven points off the bench, while freshman Nicea Eliely pitched in six first-half points to go along with a team-high four assists.

The hot-shooting Cougars raced to 53 points in the first half, capped by a buzzer-beating three high off the left side of the backboard by Louise Brown. It was Brown's fourth three on four first-half attempts and WSU's eighth three of the half. Brown finished with 14 first-half points. 

Pavlopoulou added eight first-half points with a pair of threes, while Alexys Swedlund and Caila Hailey each added seven first-half points. As a team, Washington shot 55 percent (22-40) from the floor in the first half, including a blistering 61.5 percent (8-13) from three-point range. The Cougars won the first-half turnover battle, 15-10, and outrebounded the Huskers 19-16 in the opening half.

Despite trailing by 19, the Huskers put up a season-high 34 first-half points, including 24 in the first quarter. Nebraska hit 12-of-18 first-quarter field goal attempts, but still trailed 27-24 at the end of the first period. Nebraska scored on its opening field goal attempt of the second quarter, but then went just 3-of-11 from the field to close the half. Nebraska went 2-for-5 from three-point range in the first half.

Shepard led the Huskers with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first half, but went 0-for-3 from the line in the first half. Nicea Eliely added six points - all in the first quarter - while Jasmine Cincore pitched in five points including a three-pointer with 4:24 left in the half to pull NU within 41-34. However, the Huskers were shut out the rest of the half, as the Cougars closed the half on a 12-0 run.

The Cougars continued the surge with a 6-0 start to the third quarter in the first 1:15. Nebraska got two points on an inbounds play after a timeout to stop the run, but Washington State continued to pull away in the third quarter to take its biggest lead at 68-38 on Pavlopoulou's jumper.

Shepard stopped the Cougar surge with a free throw before freshman Grace Mitchell sparked the Big Red with four straight points. The Huskers continued to chip away capped by a Simon layup at the end of the third quarter to send NU to fourth quarter trailing 71-52. 

After a basket by Maria Kostourkova, who finished with six points, to open the fourth quarter, Whitish and Shepard erupted for a 10-0 run in just 1:37 to pull the Big Red within 73-62 with 7:12 left.

Washington State was able to hold on for the victory by hitting 32-of-68 shots from field for the game, including 8-of-20 threes despite going 0-for-7 from long range in the second half. The Cougars also hit 7-of-13 free throws. WSU outrebounded Nebraska, 44-32 and won the turnover battle 23-20. The Cougars outscored the Huskers 30-14 in points off turnovers and 13-8 in second-chance points.

Brown led a balanced WSU attack with 16 points, while Hailey and Hristova both finished with nine points. Overall, nine Cougars scored five or more points.

Nebraska hit a season-best 48.1 percent (26-54) of its shots from the field, including 4-of-14 threes. NU was just 9-of-22 at the free throw line.

The Huskers conclude their two-game stay at the South Point Shootout by taking on Virginia on Saturday at 8 p.m. (CT). The Cavaliers suffered their first loss of the season on Friday with a 66-55 setback to St. John's.

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