Huskers fall down stretch at Illinois

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Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: NU Media Relations

Champaign, Ill. – Hannah Whitish hit a career-high four three-pointers to finish with a career-high 16 points, but it was not enough to prevent Illinois from pulling away down the stretch for a 79-59 win over the Nebraska women’s basketball team on Sunday at the State Farm Center.Sophomore forward Jessica Shepard added a game-high 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting, while grabbing nine rebounds, but no other Husker scored more than four points. The Huskers hit just 29.2 percent (19-65) of their shots from the field for the game, including just 3-for-16 (.188) in the fourth quarter.While Nebraska struggled to hit shots, Illinois sizzled in the second half, hitting 19-of-27 (.704) shots from the floor including 5-of-8 three-pointers. The Fighting Illini improved to 8-10 overall, including 8-4 at home, while Nebraska slipped to 5-13 overall. The Huskers are 1-5 in the Big Ten, while Illinois moved to 3-2.Freshman Petra Holesinska led the Illini with 19 points, while freshman Brandi Beasley added a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists. Beasley added seven rebounds and three steals to overcome six turnovers. Sophomore Alex Wittinger also pitched in 17 points, including 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the second half. She also grabbed eight rebounds.For the game, Illinois finished 56.1 percent (32-57) from the floor, including 7-of-17, while knocked down all eight of its free throws.Nebraska hit 8-of-29 threes and 13-of-17 free throws, while matching the Illini on the boards and winning the turnover battle, 15-14.The Huskers were tied with Illinois at 45 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, before Nebraska went ice cold and the Illini closed the game on a 34-14 surge over the final 14 minutes. NU, which trailed just 34-33 at the half, were outscored 23-16 in the third quarter and 22-10 in the fourth.Nebraska trailed 34-33 at halftime in a tightly contested and entertaining first half. Whitish led the Huskers with 12 points, including a career-high four three-pointers on just five attempts. She added two rebounds, two assists and a steal in the half.Shepard also produced double digits in the first half, scoring nine of her 11 points in the second quarter. Shepard added five rebounds. Nicea Eliely added four points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in the first half, including Nebraska’s final points of the half.As a team, Nebraska hit just 32.4 percent (11-34) of its first-half shots, but knocked down 5-of-12 threes and 6-of-8 free throws. The Huskers won the first-half rebounding battle, 20-18, and the first-half turnover contest, 8-5.Holesinska led the Illini with 14 points and six rebounds in the first half, while Beasley added nine points.  The Illini hit 43.3 percent (13-30) of its shots, including just 2-of-9 threes, but knocked down 6-of-6 free throws.The Huskers led 17-15 at the end of the first quarter thanks to three three-pointers from Whitish. Nebraska took its biggest lead earlier in the second quarter to 21-15, before the Illini answered with a 17-5 surge to take their biggest lead at 32-26 with just over three minutes left in the half.Nebraska continues Big Ten road action this week by traveling to Penn State. Tip-off between the Huskers and Lady Lions at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa., is set for 6 p.m. (CT).