Huskers Outlast Scarlet Knights

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Scott Bruhn/NU Communications

Nebraska freshman Alexis Markowski notched her third double-double of the season with a game-high 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to lead the Huskers to a 50-38 women’s basketball win over Rutgers on Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Huskers improved to 16-4 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten by notching their third consecutive victory by holding Rutgers to just 38 points, matching the fewest points ever allowed by Nebraska in a Big Ten Conference game.

Rutgers, which in turn held the Huskers to a season-low 50 points, slipped to 7-16 overall and 0-11 in the conference while Nebraska posted its largest victory margin in the history of the series with the Scarlet Knights.

Markowski was a force inside at both ends from start to finish for the Big Red, pulling down 10 defensive rebounds and adding a pair of steals to lead a stingy Husker defense. The Huskers forced 22 turnovers by the Scarlet Knights, with MiCole Cayton, Ruby Porter and Allison Weidner all matching Markowski’s two steals.

Junior guard Sam Haiby joined Markowski in double figures with 12 points, marking her 13th consecutive Big Ten game in double digits. Haiby hit two of the game’s biggest shots in the fourth quarter, burying a three-pointer with 8:24 left after Rutgers had clawed within 36-34. Five minutes later, Haiby nailed her third triple of the night with 3:25 left to extend NU’s margin to 45-34.

Markowski then scored four straight points to give Nebraska its biggest lead at 49-34 to cap a 13-0 run after holding Rutgers scoreless for more than seven minutes.

Jaz Shelley continued her impressive all-around play with eight points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal and NU’s lone blocked shot on the night. Shelley’s three-pointer with 6:22 left put the Huskers up 42-34 and forced a Rutgers timeout, while her free throw in the final minute closed the scoring for the Big Red. Haiby (6), Markowski (4) and Shelley (4) combined for all 14 points for Nebraska in the final period.

Osh Brown was the only Scarlet Knight to finish in double figures, notching a double-double of her own with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The nation’s active career leader in double-doubles with 57, Brown was joined by Tyia Singleton inside for Rutgers, who finished with seven points and a team-high 13 rebounds.

Nebraska, which entered the game ranked seventh nationally in scoring offense (81.2 ppg), hit just 27.9 percent (17-61) of its field goal attempts, including 19.4 percent (6-31) of its threes. NU knocked down 10-of-13 (.769) free throws, including a 6-for-6 effort from Markowski.

The Huskers held Rutgers to just 32.7 percent (16-49) shooting, including just 12.5 percent (1-8) from three-point range, and the Scarlet Knights connected on just 5-of-12 free throws (.417). Nebraska’s success on the boards (45-38) and victory in turnover margin (22-16) allowed the Huskers to attempt 12 more field goals than Rutgers and one more free throw.

In a low-scoring first half, Nebraska built a 25-12 after MiCole Cayton capped a 10-0 Husker run with her three-pointer with 6:49 left in the second quarter that forced a Rutgers timeout. But the Scarlet Knights answered by outscoring Nebraska 8-4 in the final 6:49 of the half to cut the Husker lead to 27-18 at the break.

Nebraska jumped to a quick 5-0 lead in the game, but Rutgers answered to take its only lead at 6-5 with 4:04 left in the first quarter. The Huskers outscored the Scarlet Knights 11-5 over the last four minutes of the quarter, capped by Ruby Porter’s three-pointer with 39 seconds to send NU to the second period with a 16-10 lead.

Markowski led Nebraska with eight points and seven rebounds in the first half, but the Huskers hit just 27 percent (10-37) of their shots, including just 3-of-18 three-pointers. NU did beat Rutgers on the boards, 29-20, in the half and won the turnover battle 10-8 while hitting all four of its free throws.

Nebraska held Rutgers to just 25 percent (7-28) shooting, including just 1-of-6 threes, while hitting 3-of-5 free throws. Singleton led the Scarlet Knights with five points and seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.

The 38 points allowed by Nebraska matched a defensive performance at Indiana on Jan. 10, 2013, when the Huskers rolled to a 67-38 victory over the Hoosiers in Bloomington. The only other times in school history that Nebraska held a conference foe to fewer than 38 points came in a 76-34 victory over Missouri (Big 12) in Lincoln on Feb. 22, 2011 and an 84-36 win over the Tigers at the Devaney Center on Jan. 22, 1997.

Nebraska will make another quick turnaround to complete its first-ever four-game conference home stand when the Huskers play host to Penn State on Thursday.

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