Slow start dooms Huskers in loss to No. 14 Michigan

Nebraska falls to No. 14 Michigan
Nebraska falls to No. 14 Michigan(koln)
Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 10:53 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (Press Release) - Nebraska’s Jaz Shelley scored a game-high 21 points, but the Huskers could not overcome an ice-cold first quarter in a 76-59 loss to No. 14 Michigan in front of 8,150 women’s basketball fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday night. Michigan opened the game with a 9-0 run and pushed the margin to 15 points late in the first quarter. The Huskers put up their fewest first-quarter points since the advent of the quarter system, trailing 19-5 at the end of 10 minutes after going just 2-for-13 from the field.

The slow start was instrumental in ending Nebraska’s five-game winning streak that included wins over No. 20 Maryland (Dec. 4) and No. 20 Kansas (Dec. 21). The Huskers slipped to 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, while the No. 14 Wolverines improved to 12-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference.Nebraska rallied in the second quarter after the Wolverines pushed their lead to 18 at 25-7 with 8:36 left in the half. Isabelle Bourne got NU started with a finish at the rim with 8:22 left before five straight points from Shelley capped a 7-0 Husker run. Michigan regrouped to push the margin back to 30-14, before the Huskers got four straight points from Sam Haiby and five straight from Annika Stewart to cap a 9-1 surge to cut the Wolverine lead to 31-23 with a minute left. Stewart finished with eight points and six rebounds.

Haiby made her first start of the season in place of an injured Allison Weidner. Prior to the game, Nebraska Coach Amy Williams announced that the sophomore starting guard from Humphrey, Neb., would be out for the season and undergo surgery for a leg injury suffered in the fourth quarter of NU’s 85-79 3OT win over Kansas on Dec. 21. Haiby, who missed 10 of Nebraska’s first 11 games this season while recovering from injury, finished with six points.After a calming bucket by Michigan’s Lalia Phelia, freshman Callin Hake buried a three-pointer on the left wing to cut the margin to 33-26, before Phelia’s buzzer-beating jumper closed the half to give Michigan a 35-26 lead. Hake finished the game with a career-high 11 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting for the Big Red, but the rest of the Huskers went just 3-for-22 from long range on the night.Nebraska went 7-for-12 from the floor in the second quarter, including 3-for-7 from three-point range after going without a first-quarter three. Shelley led the Big Red in the half with seven points, while Stewart added six big points off the bench. Haiby and Bourne each contributed four points.

After winning the second quarter, Nebraska narrowed the margin more in the third, cutting Michigan’s lead to six points on two occasions late in the period. The first came on a layup by Shelley that included a Michigan foul to cut the Wolverine edge to 45-39. Shelley missed the and-one free throw with 2:32 left. Fifteen seconds later, after a Leigha Brown bucket for Michigan, Hake knocked down a pair of free throws to trim the margin back to 47-41 with 2:17 in the third, but the Wolverines scored the final four points of the period to head to the fourth with a 51-41 edge.

Nebraska struggled offensively early in the fourth, but a Shelley three-pointer still cut Michigan’s lead to single digits at 53-44 with just under eight minutes left in the game. However, a 10-0 Michigan run over the next three minutes sealed the Huskers’ fate, as the Wolverines took their biggest lead of the night at 63-44. Brown led Michigan with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Emily Kiser added 18 points, including a trio of three-pointers, to go with seven rebounds. Maddie Nolan pitched in 16 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting, while Phelia put four Wolverines in double figures with 12 points.

Michigan finished 8-of-18 (.444) from three-point range, while connecting on 51.9 percent (27-52) of its shots from the field. The Wolverines also went 14-of-20 at the free throw line and won the battle of the boards, 37-35.

Nebraska hit just 33.3 percent (20-60) of its field goal attempts, including just 6-of-26 threes (.231), while going 13-of-20 at the line. Both teams committed 14 turnovers, but the Huskers turned the ball over nine times in the first period, which led to Michigan’s 14-point edge at the end of the period.

The Huskers will play their third consecutive game and sixth this season against a top-20 opponent when they travel to Bloomington to take on No. 4 Indiana on Sunday, Jan. 1. Tip-off between Nebraska and the unbeaten Hoosiers is set for noon (CT) with live national television coverage on ESPN. The game can also be heard across the Huskers Radio Network stations and on Huskers.com