Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Becca Mann
Nebraska wraps up double-bye at Big Ten tournament with win
The Nebraska women’s basketball team checked the last home game off its list Thursday night with a 59-51 win against Penn State, the tenth this season on its own court.
A physical game for Nebraska saw the Nittany Lions whistled for 21 fouls, which led to 25 shots from the line for the Big Red. The ability to score from the line, plus NU’s 60-31 margin on the boards, including 40-22 on defensive rebounds, helped the Huskers keep Penn State from spoiling Senior Night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Of the rebounds, freshman Kate Cain was responsible for 20, and tied for sixth most in program history in an individual game. The center added 14 points for a double-double after falling just short of one last time out against Indiana.
“I thought [Cain] and Taylor [Kissinger] both showed a desire to get a little more physical, go down in there and grind out some rebounds,” said NU coach Amy Williams. “Those two ladies down the stretch have sparked us with rebounding and that has been important.”
Cain’s efforts in the paint allowed her to end 12 Penn State possessions with rebounds, and Cain’s three blocks provided a presence that Maddie Simon said has been important to the team defensively this season.
Down court, the Huskers struggled for success of any type, sinking just 19-of-60 from the floor. Nebraska’s 31.7 percent shooting efforts from the floor, and 10 percent from beyond the arc, were the lowest this season and would have contributed to a tough loss has the Husker defense not found its footing early on.
“Thank god we were rebounding,” Williams said. “I thought Penn State… came in and really pressured us up man-to-man and got us out of sync offensively. We did not shoot the ball very well, it wasn’t our best offensive performance but I thought defensively we were locked into our game plan and we found ways to rebound and that’s why we secured a win.”
Cain and Simon were the only two players to end the night in double figure scoring and shot 11-of-20 from the floor while the remainder of the roster shot just 8-of-40. Nebraska remained consistent in its offensive efforts through the night, recording 16 each in the first two quarters and 27 between the remaining two.
Husker Darrien Washington was yanked coming down for a rebound late in the third quarter and retreated to the locker room holding her shoulder.
The junior forward, who is averaging 2.2 rebounds per game, did not return to the court but contributed two rebounds on the night to the team’s 60 total.
With the win, postseason tournament hopes continue to come into focus for a team that secured a top-four seed in the Big Ten tournament with the win.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have cinched at least a share of the regular-season title and will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed. If the dominoes fall in Nebraska’s favor, the Huskers could earn as high as the No. 2 seed.
However, Williams said, that’s not where the focus is. The Huskers still need to finish out the regular season with a win against Maryland, a team this squad has yet to defeat.
“We really have nothing to lose heading into that ball game,” Williams said. “At this point we’re going to go play loose, have fun and commit to the things we can do better from the last time we played Maryland.”