Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Pat Radigan
Nebraska’s new faces come up clutch
Facing its first bit of adversity this year, the Nebraska women’s basketball team overcame a late push by Arkansas to score the final 11 points of the game in an 80-69 win over the Razorbacks.
Freshman Taylor Kissinger put up 25 points and 8 rebounds, and combined with a first-career double-double by fellow frosh Kate Cain to get Nebraska over the line. Arkansas waited until the fourth quarter to take its first lead, yet it was Nebraska’s freshman duo, and timely free throw shooting, that came through in crunch time in a battle of unbeaten teams at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Kissinger hit four 3-pointers, made 3-4 from the foul line and had a key late basket as part of the best offensive effort of her three-game career. Cain added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double, and was aided by a 12-rebound effort from Maddie Simon as Nebraska found a way to get control of the boards.
The Huskers outrebounded Arkansas by five in each half, and after the game NU coach Amy Williams said that was a “critical” factor for her squad.
“It was an offensive key for us: If you want to win, rebound,” Williams said. “It was a defensive key for us: If you want to win, rebound.”
“It was reiterated at halftime, multiple timeout huddles: If you want to win, rebound.”
Arkansas tied the game 69-69 when Malica Monk took a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup, but it would be the last time the Razorbacks scored.
Cain put the Huskers back ahead with a turnaround jumper a few possessions later, and the NU defense did the rest. Arkansas’s Devin Cosper went 0-for-5 on 3-pointers after Monk’s layup, despite Cosper scoring 21 points in the game, while Monk herself was missed a layup and a pair of jumpers before fouling out with 21 seconds left.
After Arkansas took a timeout with 1:31 to go, down 73-69, Nebraska got a defensive rebound on a missed jumper by Cosper. Kissinger quickly added a layup off an assist from Cain, and NU hit five free throws down the stretch to end the game on an 11-0 run for the Huskers.
As Arkansas ability to hit shots dried up, Kissinger echoed her coach in saying the key for Nebraska was making sure they solidified those stops.
“Honestly, it all came down to rebounding,” she said.
Kissinger’s shooting also helped the Huskers get out to a lead early.
The freshman hit three of her 3-pointers in the first quarter, and added a basket in the paint to finish as Nebraska’s leading scorer at the half. Maddie Simon, Jasmine Cincore and Bria Stallworth each had 5 points in the half, with Cincore and Stallworth connecting from deep to help NU shoot 5-13 on 3-pointers over the first two quarters.
Cincore finished with 14 points, and only took the one 3-pointer all game. The senior finished 4-for-7 from the field and hit 5-6 from the free throw stripe to give Nebraska a third scoring option throughout the game.
Nebraska’s dominance in the paint was another theme that started early. Simon grabbed 6 rebounds in the first half, and Rachel Blackburn came off the bench to put up 6 points and 3 rebounds and drew a charge in just 8 minutes of action. Blackburn played just two more minutes the rest of the game as she works back from injury, and was still able to draw another charge and grab an offensive rebound.
The Huskers outscored Arkansas 24-12 in the paint in the first half, and went on to score 42 of its 80 points down low in the win.
Arkansas was led by Cosper before the break, who raced out to 12 points at halftime after opening the game with a deep 3-pointer from the right wing. Monk took over the scoring burden in the third quarter, finishing with 10 points in the frame and hit all four shots and both free throws she attempted.
Cosper then added a trio of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Razorbacks fought back to even the game, however, those would be the only points she would manage in the second half. Nebraska held Arkansas to just 7-of-23 shooting in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win.
Nebraska’s 3-0 start will be put to the test this Sunday when Creighton comes to town, with the Huskers looking to avenge an 80-64 loss last year in Omaha.