Freshmen Fuel Final Surge In Husker Win

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Jordan Opp/NU Communications

Freshmen Alexis Markowski and Allison Weidner joined forces to score 18 of Nebraska’s final 20 points, as the Nebraska women’s basketball team pulled away down the stretch for a 76-61 win over Penn State at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday night.

The decisive outburst by the young Nebraska natives powered Nebraska to its fourth consecutive victory to move the Huskers to 17-4 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten. Penn State suffered its fifth consecutive loss to slip to 9-12 overall and 3-8 in the conference.

Markowski (Lincoln, Neb.) finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds, while Weidner (Humphrey, Neb.) matched her career high for the second time in three games with 14 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Weidner added four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Huskers built a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter thanks to strong performances by Australians Jaz Shelley and Isabelle Bourne. Bourne finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Shelley notched her sixth double-double of the season by matching her career high with 12 rebounds and setting a new career best with 11 assists. She also knocked down a pair of three-pointers to finish with six points while adding three blocks and a steal. Neither Bourne nor Shelley scored in the fourth quarter.

Nebraska led throughout, but Penn State’s Makenna Marisa opened the fourth quarter with two of her game-high 27 points to pull the Lady Lions within one at 53-52.

Ashley Scoggin, who finished with nine points, answered with her third three-pointer of the night to put the Big Red back up four, before PSU’s Leilani Kapinus added the last of her 10 points to bring the Lady Lions within a possession at 56-54 with 8:50 left.

The Husker freshmen then took over, beginning with a finish by Markowski, before Marisa scored PSU’s final field goal of the game with 7:14 left to cut the NU lead to 58-56.

Weidner, who entered the fourth quarter with four points, scored on back-to-back strong drives to put the Big Red up 62-56 and force a Penn State timeout. After a Marisa free throw, Markowski scored three straight before a pair of Weidner free throws with 4:31 left gave Nebraska a double-digit lead at 67-57.

A three-point play by Markowski with four minutes left gave the Huskers their biggest lead at the time with four minutes left at 70-57. Marisa stopped the bleeding with two more free throws, but a layup by Sam Haiby, who finished with seven points and five assists, and four straight points by Weidner extended Nebraska’s margin to 76-59 with 47 seconds left.

Nebraska hit 41.8 percent (28-67) of its field goal attempts, including 7-of-25 threes (.280) while knocking down 13-of-18 free throws (.722). The Huskers outworked Penn State on the glass, 46-36, including 16-9 on the offensive end. NU also won the turnover battle, 15-13, and outscored Penn State 16-9 in points off those turnovers.

The Huskers held PSU to 38.6 percent (22-57) shooting, including just 4-of-19 (.211) from three-point range. The Lady Lions knocked down 13-of-20 free throws, including 5-for-8 in the fourth quarter to account for all their scoring in the final seven minutes.

Nebraska got off to a solid start, jumping to a 9-4 edge, before Penn State answered with an 8-2 surge to take a brief 12-11 lead with 4:03 left in the first quarter. But Nebraska put together a 9-0 run that included a Ruby Porter three-pointer before Annika Stewart capped the Big Red run to take a 20-12 lead with one minute left in the quarter.

The Huskers took a 20-14 lead to the second quarter and built their biggest lead at 34-25 after back-to-back three-pointers by Scoggin and Shelley with 1:28 left in the half. Shelley finished the half with three points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Nebraska took a 34-28 halftime lead after shooting 41.9 percent in the half, including 30.8 percent (4-13) from three-point range. The Huskers also hit 4-of-5 free throws and out-rebounded Penn State, 19-16, while winning the first-half turnover battle, 8-5. Bourne led the Big Red with 10 first-half points, while Markowski added six points inside.

Marisa led all scorers in the first half with 11 points for Penn State, while the Lady Lions hit 44.4 percent (12-27) of their shots, including 3-of-9 three-pointers. PSU was 1-for-2 at the free throw line.

Nebraska returns to Big Ten road action for the first time in three weeks when the Huskers travel Maryland to take on the No. 17/14 Terrapins on Sunday.

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