Huskers Fall To Spartans In B1G Tourney


Photo Courtesy/Scott Bruhn/NU Communications

Jaz Shelley led three Huskers in double figures with a game-high 24 points, but it was not enough to stop No. 9 seed Michigan State from eliminating No. 8 Nebraska, 67-64, in the opening game of the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Target Center on Thursday.

Nebraska slipped to 16-14 overall while the Spartans improved to 16-13 and advanced to face No. 1 seed Indiana on Friday at 11:30 a.m.

Shelley knocked down 5-of-10 three-pointers and added 7-of-11 free throws, while contributing five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Sam Haiby pitched in 14 points and eight rebounds while leading the Huskers with five assists. Alexis Markowski contributed her Big Ten-leading 15th double-double of the season with 12 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high-tying four assists.

As a team, Nebraska knocked down 10-of-28 three-pointers (.357) on the day, but went just 9-of-30 from inside the arc. The Huskers hit 16-of-22 free throws (.727). The Huskers also outworked the Spartans on the glass, 38-33, and won the turnover battle, 20-18, but the Spartans were more efficient from the field. MSU connected on 49 percent (25-51) of its field goals, including 19-of-29 inside the arc, while hitting 6-of-22 threes. The Spartans also sank 11-of-16 free throws.

DeeDee Hagemann led Michigan State with 18 points, while Moira Joiner added 16 points. Kamaria McDaniel put three Spartans in double figures with 12 points.

Michigan State jumped to a quick 7-0 lead out of the gate and extended the margin to eight points at 22-14 early in the second quarter, before Nebraska rallied with an 8-0 run to tie the score at 22 with 4:20 left. Shelley sparked the Big Red run with back-to-back threes.

However, the Spartans outscored the Huskers 7-3 over the final four minutes of the half to take a 29-25 lead to the locker room.

Nebraska hung tough with Michigan State despite hitting just 28.6 percent of its field goal attempts. NU was 5-of-14 (.357) from three-point range in the first half including 3-of-8 from Shelley, but hit just 3-of-14 two-point field goals. The Huskers also hit 4-of-5 free throws and won the first-half turnover battle 13-10. But Michigan State outscored Nebraska 12-8 off those turnovers and won the first-half rebounding battle 19-15.

Shelley led the Big Red with 10 points, while Haiby added five points, five rebounds and three assists. Markowski contributed four points, three rebounds and three assists.

The Spartans hit 47.8 percent (11-23) of their first-half shots, but just 2-of-9 three-pointers. MSU also connected on 5-of-7 free throws. Hagemann and Taiyier Parks each had six points for a balanced MSU offense, while Joiner and McDaniel both contributed five points. The Huskers maintained the one-point lead at 44-43 with a minute left in the quarter after four straight points from Markowski, but Michigan State scored the final three points of the period to take a 46-44 lead to the fourth.

Nebraska tied the game at 36 thanks to a strong start to the second half from Haiby, who scored five quick points, including a free throw to tie the game with 5:50 left in the period. Shelley then gave the Huskers their first lead of the game at 41-40 on a pair of free throws with 2:36 left. The Huskers maintained the one-point edge at 44-43 into the final minute of the quarter, before the Spartans scored the final three points of the period to take a 46-44 lead to the fourth.

Michigan State then opened the fourth with 11 straight points to cap a 14-0 run that included six straight points from Joiner and a three-pointer from Hagemann that gave MSU its biggest lead at 57-44.

But Nebraska continued to fight, as Shelley and Haiby combined on an 8-0 Husker run that took just 1:02 to pull the Huskers to 57-52 with 5:07 left.

The Spartans steadied and regained an eight-point lead at 67-59 on a McDaniel three-pointer, before Markowski hit a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left. Isabelle Bourne, who finished with eight points, then knocked down a three-pointer with 44 seconds left to pull Nebraska within 67-64.

The Huskers followed with a defensive stop. In the last 15 seconds, Nebraska missed a three-point attempt from Shelley before getting an offensive rebound. The Huskers kicked it out to Maddie Krull, whose three-point attempt rimmed in and out just ahead of the buzzer to end the game.

Nebraska will await word on its postseason tournament prospects when the NCAA announces its 68-team field on Sunday, March 12. The Postseason WNIT will follow with its announcement of a 64-team field later that same evening.