Husker women rally past Michigan for 74-71 win

From: Nebraska Athletics

Hannah Whitish tied her career high with six three-pointers to finish with 20 points and help the Nebraska women’s basketball team rally from a 13-point third-quarter deficit for a 74-71 win at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 14-4 overall on the season and 4-3 in the Big Ten, while Michigan slipped to 12-6 overall and 3-4 in the conference. The Huskers, who matched their victory total from the 2018-19 season, improved to 11-1 at home.

While Whitish poured in a season-high 20 points, she got lots of help from long range, including a season-high three three-pointers from fellow senior Nicea Eliely in the second half. Eliely finished with 11 points, while sophomore Sam Haiby added 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc to finish with 18 points. Leigha Brown gave the four Huskers in double figures with 10 points, including five big free throws in the final three minutes to help Nebraska secure the win.

Nebraska trailed 32-26 after an action-packed first half. The Huskers jumped to a 9-5 lead in the first four minutes, before Nicea Eliely was called for her second foul. Michigan, which had to withstand an early blow at a similar position with a knee injury suffered by Kayla Robbins just 1:18 into the game, responded with a 9-1 surge to take a 14-10 lead.

Akienrah Johnson fueled Michigan’s first quarter with eight points. Nebraska rallied to tie the score at 16, and Michigan point guard Amy Dilk was whistled for her second foul with 29 seconds left in the first quarter. But the Wolverines went to the second quarter with a 19-16 edge after a last-second three-pointer by Maddie Nolan – the first of her career.

Michigan pushed its biggest first-half lead to 28-19 early in the second quarter, sparked by eight consecutive points from Izabel Varejao, but Whitish answered with back-to-back threes against a Wolverine zone to cut the margin to 30-28 with 5:03 left in the half. Then Husker center Kate Cain was whistled for her second foul.

Nebraska did not score in the final 5:03 of the half, but held Michigan to just four points in the final 6:15, as the Wolverines went to the locker room with a 34-28 halftime lead.

The Huskers hit just 38.5 percent (10-26) of their first-half shots, including 5-of-13 threes (.385), while knocking down 3-of-4 free throws. Michigan hit 44.8 percent (13-29) of its shots, including 2-of-3 threes, while going 2-for-3 at the line. The Wolverines out-rebounded the Big Red, 18-16, and won the first-half turnover battle, 6-3.

The action heated up even more in the third quarter, as the Wolverines gut-punched the Huskers out of the locker room to start the half with seven straight points in 1:36, beginning with a three-pointer from Hailey Brown and ending with a layup by Naz Hillmon to take their biggest lead of the day at 41-28.

After a timeout by Coach Amy Williams, Nebraska answered the bell beginning with a three-pointer from Whitish. Brown added a pair of free throws, before a three-pointer by Eliely after an Dilk bucket for Michigan.

A layup by Haiby and a bucket inside for Cain narrowed the Michigan margin to 43-40 with 3:16 left in the third stretching a 12-2 surge by the Big Red. Cain finished with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Hillmon slowed the Husker rally with a free throw, but Brown answered with a traditional three-point play to pull Nebraska within 44-43. Michigan’s Hailey Brown then answered with her second of five second-half three-pointers before two Dilk free throws put Michigan back in front 49-43 with 49 seconds left in the quarter. 

Hailey Brown led Michigan with 17 points on the afternoon, including 5-of-6 three-point shooting, while Dilk pitched in nine and Hillmon added 13 points and eight rebounds. Hillmon was involved in a crucial sequence late in the third. After Isabelle Bourne made a pair of free throws for NU, Hillmon was fouled with 7.6 seconds left but missed both free throws. Nebraska stormed the other way and Whitish buried a buzzer-beating three from the right wing to send the Huskers to the fourth quarter down just one at 49-48.

Eliely then shot the Huskers to the their first lead since midway through the first quarter with her second three of the half, before Haiby added two free throws with 8:46 left to cap a 10-0 Big Red run at 53-49.

After threes by Whitish and Haiby pushed NU’s lead to 63-58, two free throws from Cain and two more from Brown gave Nebraska its biggest lead of the day at 67-60. Brown was fouled on a three-pointer by Dilk as the shot clock wound down, and it was Dilk’s fifth foul of the game with 2:54 left.

The Wolverines refused to quit fighting though, as Danielle Rauch buried a three, before Eliely answered with Nebraska’s season-high-tying 12th three-pointer of the game to make it 70-63 Huskers with 1:14 left.

Michigan’s Hailey Brown kept the Wolverines in it with two heroic threes late, including a long bank from the left wing and a catch-and-shoot three from the deep right wing with 9.1 seconds left, before she fouled out with 8.2 seconds left. Michigan had possession trailing 74-71 in the final eight seconds but was unable to get close on a desperation three.

Nebraska finished at 42.9 percent (21-49) shooting for the game, including 12-for-24 from long range against primarily zone defense from the Wolverines. The Huskers came through at the line, knocking down 20-of-24 free throws (.833). The Wolverines out-rebounded the Huskers, 36-29, and won the turnover battle, 9-8, but Nebraska outscored Michigan in points off turnovers, 10-2 in the second half. The Wolverines hit 44.3 percent (27-61) of their shots from the floor, including 8-of-14 threes, but just 9-of-14 free throws.

Nebraska returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday night to complete a two-game home stand by battling Purdue. Tip-off between the Huskers and Boilermakers is set for 7 p.m., with tickets available now at Huskers.com.

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports