Huskers fall to Gonzaga in NCAA first round

Sam Haiby scored a season-high 20 points while adding six rebounds and three steals, but it was not enough to overcome a frustrating Gonzaga defense in a 68-55 loss to the Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Haiby Sam Vs Umd 2021 Ml
Courtesy: Husker Athletics

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Athletics) – Sam Haiby scored a season-high 20 points while adding six rebounds and three steals, but it was not enough to overcome a frustrating Gonzaga defense in a 68-55 loss to the Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center on Friday afternoon.With the loss, the No. 8 seed Huskers ended their season with a 24-9 overall record. The ninth-seeded Zags, who were the West Coast Conference tournament champions, improved to 27-6 overall and advanced to Sunday’s second round.Jaz Shelley added 11 points and four assists for the Huskers despite being shackled with foul trouble for more than two quarters. Shelley knocked down a trio of three-pointers to finish with 82 on the season, tying for fourth on the Husker single-season list.Big Ten Freshman of the Year Alexis Markowski nearly notched a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, while adding a pair of blocks, despite being strapped with foul trouble for three quarters as well. Nebraska, which shattered a school record with 279 three-pointers on the season, hit 9-of-22 (.409) long-range attempts in the game, including a pair from Haiby. But the Huskers went just 9-for-34 (.264) from two-point range against a tough, physical and experienced Gonzaga front line. The Bulldogs outscored Nebraska 32-18 in the paint, including 14-3 on second-chance points in a pair of telling statistics.Gonzaga, which entered the game with a plus-10 rebound margin, out-boarded Nebraska 40-33, despite the Huskers entering the contest with a plus-seven margin on the glass.Kayleigh Truong led Gonzaga with 20 points while adding four assists, but it was Melody Kempton who did the most damage for the Zags at both ends, finishing with 14 points, a team-high eight rebounds, three steals and a block. Kempton grabbed four offensive rebounds for Gonzaga. WCC Sixth Player of the Year Yvonne Ejim added 14 points and six boards off the bench for Gonzaga, while 6-5 forward Anamaria Virjoghe contributed 10 points and a pair of blocks.As a team, Gonzaga hit 26-of-56 shots (.464), compared to 18-of-56 (.321) for the Huskers. The Zags hit just 5-of-17 threes (.294) and lost the turnover battle to Nebraska 14-11.In a back-and-forth first half, Nebraska held multiple five-point leads in the opening quarter thanks to 4-for-7 three-point shooting as a team in the quarter. But it was Gonzaga’s first three-pointer of the game in the closing seconds of the period that changed momentum. Nebraska still took a 16-14 lead to the second quarter, but the Bulldogs scored the first seven points of the second quarter including another three-pointer to cap a 10-0 run and take a 21-16 lead less then two minutes into the second period.Nebraska rallied with five straight points from Shelley and a three-pointer from MiCole Cayton with 6:20 left in the half to regain a 24-23 lead. However, the Zags scored seven straight points to answer the Husker run and take the biggest lead for either team in the half at 30-24 with 4:19 left.Nebraska kept scrapping, holding Gonzaga to just one field goal in the final 5:30 of the half, before Haiby hit a layup in the closing seconds to cut the Bulldog lead to 33-30 af halftime.Haiby led the Huskers with 12 first-half points on 3-of-5 shooting including a pair of three-pointers. She added four rebounds to help Nebraska on the glass, but it was five offensive rebounds by the Zags in the second quarter that led to 10 second-chance points in the period to sway the scoreboard.Nebraska went 6-for-12 from three-point range in the half and added three free throws from Haiby when she was fouled on a three-pointer late in the half, but the Huskers went just 3-for-13 from two-point range in the half. Shelley added eight points and a pair of assists for the Huskers in the half, but NU finished just 9-for-25 (.360) from the field in the half and just 6-of-13 (.462) at the free throw line.Gonzaga hit 13-of-25 shots (.464), including 3-of-8 threes (.375), while hitting 4-of-7 free throws. The Bulldogs won the first-half rebounding battle, 21-15, but the Huskers held an 8-5 edge in the turnover department in the opening 20 minutes. Kempton led Gonzaga with eight points and five rebounds in the half, while Ejim added eight points and four boards off the bench.The Bulldogs took control out of the gate in the third quarter with a pair of layups and a Kempton bucket in the first 2:35 to push the margin to 39-30. Both Shelley and Markowski also picked up their third fouls during the 6-0 run to start the half. Haiby scored four straight before Isabelle Bourne pitched in a layup to trim the margin back to 41-36 with 5:45 left in the quarter, but the Huskers could get no closer.Kempton closed the third with back-to-back baskets to give the Zags their biggest lead of the first 30 minutes at 54-43 heading to the fourth quarter. After Allison Weidner got her lone field goal of the game to open the quarter for Nebraska, Virjoghe extended the Gonzaga lead to 57-45 with a traditional three-point play. Haiby then notched a pair of tough finishes before Markowski drained a three-pointer to pull the Big Red back within 59-52 with 5:25 left.However, Gonzaga answered with a 9-0 run over the next 3:30 before Shelley ended it with a three-pointer for Nebraska’s last basket of the season with 1:54 left in the game for the final points of the contest.

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports