Husker women hold off Northwester, 71-64

Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

Hannah Whitish pumped in 19 points and Maddie Simon added 16 points on a perfect shooting night from the field, as Nebraska held on for a 71-64 women’s basketball win at Northwestern on Thursday night.

Whitish, a 5-9 junior from Barneveld, Wis., led another three-point barrage by the Big Red by hitting 5-of-8 three-pointers while also dishing out five assists for the Huskers. Simon, a 6-2 senior forward from Lincoln, went a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor, including a pair of threes of her own in arguably her best all-around game of the season. 

As a team, the Huskers buried 10-of-18 three-pointers (.556) on their way to improving to 8-8 in Big Ten play and 13-14 overall on the season. Nebraska slipped to 15-12 overall and 8-8 in the league as Nebraska salvaged a season series split with the Wildcats. Over the last two games, Nebraska has hit 22-of-42 threes (.524).

Freshman Sam Haiby put three Huskers in double figures with 11 points, including five points in the final 1:16 to help Nebraska hold off a furious fourth-quarter rally. 

Nebraska led 60-44 at the end of three quarters and extended its lead to 17 points at 63-46 after Whitish’s final three-pointer of the night with 9:17 left. The Wildcats responded with a 13-0 run in a span of just 2:11 to pull within 63-59 with 6:51 left in the game. 

The Wildcats added a Sydney Wood free throw with 4:59 left to pull within a possession at 63-60, but Whitish hit a jumper 15 seconds later to push the Husker edge back to 65-60 with 4:44 left. The two teams then went scoreless for the next 3:28 before Haiby’s layup put the Big Red up three possessions at 67-60.

Northwestern’s Veronica Burton managed a free throw with 52.9 seconds left to end a 4:07 scoreless drought for the Wildcats, but a free throw by Simon and two free throws by Haiby with 15.5 seconds left pushed Nebraska’s margin to 70-61 and all but ended the game.

Northwestern’s Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah hit a layup with 6.8 seconds to snap a 6:43 field goal drought for the Wildcats. Akpanah finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Lindsey Pulliam added 14 points for Northwestern but went just 5-for-21 from the field.

For the game, Nebraska hit 50 percent (24-48) of its shots from the field, while knocking down 72.2 percent (13-18) of its free throws. The Huskers were out-rebounded 34-30, and lost the turnover battle 13-10.

The Huskers held Northwestern to just 37.5 percent (24-64) shooting, including 5-of-17 threes (.294). The Wildcats also went just 11-for-17 (.647) at the line.

The Huskers put together a terrific first half at both ends, surging to a 40-26 halftime lead. Nebraska hit 58.3 percent (14-24) of its first-half shots, including 5-of-11 threes (.455), while going 7-of-8 at the free throw line. Simon led a balanced first-half effort with nine points to help the Huskers surge to their first double-digit lead at 27-17 with 7:52 left in the second quarter.

Kate Cain and Nicea Eliely each contributed six first-half points, while Whitish pitched in five points and four assists. Haiby and Kayla Mershon each contributed four points, while Taylor Kissinger and Leigha Brown each knocked down big threes late in the second quarter for the Big Red to go to the locker room with a 14-point edge. 

Nebraska’s 40 first-half points marked the second-highest total allowed by Northwestern in a first half this season, trailing only the 41 points scored by a top-10 Maryland team. The Big Ten’s top scoring defense, Northwestern entered the game surrendering just 60.1 points per game on the season. In the first meeting between Nebraska and Northwestern on Jan. 24, the Huskers managed just 21 first-half points in a 58-54 loss to the Cats.

Nebraska held Northwestern to just 26 points on 34.5 percent (10-29) shooting in the half, including 2-of-5 threes. The Wildcats were also 4-of-6 at the line. Northwestern out-rebounded Nebraska 15-13 in the half, but the Huskers won the first-half turnover battle 6-5. Pulliam and Abbie Wolf led Northwestern with seven points, while Akpanah and Byrdy Galernik both pitched in five points for the Wildcats.

The Huskers also erupted out of the locker room at the start of the second half with back-to-back threes by Whitish in the first 48 seconds to take a 20-point lead at 46-26. Northwestern answered with a 10-0 run in a 2:22 span to slash Nebraska’s lead to 48-38 before the Huskers outscored the Wildcats 12-6 over the final 5:45 in the third period.

Nebraska returns to Lincoln for its final regular-season home game on Monday night when the Huskers take on No. 10 Iowa. Tip-off between the Big Red and Hawkeyes on Senior Night is set for 7:30 p.m. (CT). Nebraska will honor senior Maddie Simon with an on-court ceremony at Pinnacle Bank Arena following Monday night’s game. Tickets are available now at