Huskers Knock Off No. 23 Michigan State, 68-64

Huskers Knock Off No. 23 Michigan State, 68-64

Credit Source: University of Nebraska Athletics

East Lansing, Mich. – Nebraska rallied from a five-point fourth-quarter deficit on its way to a 68-64 women’s basketball win at No. 23 Michigan State on Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center.

With the victory, Nebraska improved to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten while knocking off its second top-25 opponent in the last two weeks, while the Spartans slipped to 8-2 overall and 3-2 in the conference with their second straight loss. MSU also suffered a six-point home loss to No. 12 Maryland in East Lansing on Thursday night.

Isabelle Bourne led Nebraska with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Sam Haiby added her first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

Nebraska trailed 56-51 after a Tory Ozment three-pointer for Michigan State with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Ruby Porter answered with one of the game’s biggest shots with her career-high third three-pointer to cut the margin to 56-54. Porter finished with a career-high nine points.

After a bucket by the Spartans, NU got a big answer from Bella Cravens to pull back within two. Cravens finished a strong game with nine points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. The Huskers then got a stop and the Big Red answered with an execution score from Bourne to Kate Cain on the right block to tie the game at 58.

The Huskers extended their run with a basket by Bourne to take a 60-58 lead with four minutes left, before getting another defensive stop. Haiby then took over, taking on Michigan State star Nia Clouden at the rim, finishing the drive with an and-one to force Clouden’s fourth foul and give the Big Red a 63-58 lead with 3:32 left to cap a 9-0 Husker run.

Clouden, who finished with 14 points, scored on back-to-back possessions for the Spartans around a Cain basket as the Huskers held a tenuous 65-62 lead with 2:40 left. The defenses won in the closing minutes, as Haiby, Ashley Scoggin, who finished with eight points, and freshman Whitney Brown each hit single free throws to extend the Nebraska margin. The only points MSU got were a score by Kendall Bostick at the rim after catching an air-balled three-point attempt by a Spartan in the corner.

Brown, a freshman from Grand Island, finished with three points, three assists and a steal including the final free throw with 2.8 seconds left to seal the win.

As a team, Nebraska finished at 43.5 percent (27-62) from the field, including 6-of-14 three-pointers, to go along with 8-of-14 free throw shooting. The Huskers finished with 22 assists on 27 made baskets. The Huskers held a high-powered Michigan State offense to just 38.5 percent (26-65) shooting, including just 5-of-25 threes. The Spartans hit 9-of-13 free throws and out-rebounded Nebraska, 39-38. Michigan State also won the turnover battle 17-14.

In a well-played first half by Nebraska, the Huskers took a 39-30 lead to the locker room behind 12 points from Bourne in the first 20 minutes. Bourne and Scoggin combined for 17 of Nebraska’s final 18 points of the first quarter to take a 20-16 lead to the second period. It marked the first time this season that the Huskers won the first quarter.

After getting seven points from Scoggin in the first quarter, the point guard picked up her second foul and forced to the bench for the rest of the half. However, Porter and Brown came up big off the bench. Porter opened and closed the second quarter with three-pointers. She added two rebounds and two assists. Brown added two points, three assists and a steal in the first half, and her layup gave the Huskers their biggest lead of the half at 30-20 with 5:42 left in the second quarter.

Haiby and Cravens each added five points on 2-of-4 shooting in the first half, while Cain added a bucket before being whistled for her second foul early in the second quarter. As a team, Nebraska hit 50 percent (16-of-32) of its shots from the floor including 5-of-7 three-pointers. The Huskers shared the ball at an exceptional level with 15 assists on 16 made baskets. NU won the first-half turnover battle 11-8, and nearly matched the Spartans on the boards 17-16.

The Husker defense held the Spartans to just 36.7 percent shooting, including just 3-of-13 threes in the first half. NU limited Clouden to just three points in the first half.

But Michigan State took control immediately in the third quarter, running off eight straight points to cut the Nebraska lead to 39-38. The Spartans took their first lead of the second half at 44-43 on a pair of Ozment free throws. She finished with 11 points for MSU, including nine in the second half. MSU took a 48-47 lead to the fourth quarter, and outscored Nebraska 8-4 in the first two minutes of the period after back-to-back threes by Clouden and Ozment. The Huskers held Michigan State to just eight points in the final eight minutes to secure the win and complete the comeback.

Nebraska returns to Big Ten home action on Saturday, Jan. 16, when the Huskers take on No. 16 Ohio State. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Buckeyes at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 4 p.m. with live television coverage provided by the Big Ten Network. Live radio will be available through the Husker Sports Network.

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