HUSKER WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Nebraska Drops Big Ten Quarterfinal Game To No. 7 Maryland

INDIANAPOLIS–(NU Athletics Mar. 11)–Nebraska fought hard to carry multiple leads against No. 7 Maryland midway through the fourth quarter, but the Terrapins prevailed down the stretch in an 83-73 win over the upset-minded Huskers on Thursday in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

All-Big Ten guard Sam Haiby erupted for 19 points in the second half on her way to 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the game against the Big Ten regular-season champion TerpsHaiby, who reached the 1,000-point mark in her career with a three-pointer in the corner early in the third quarter, buried back-to-back threes to open the fourth and give Nebraska a 60-57 lead with 8:55 left.

The two teams answered each other bucket for bucket the next several minutes, until Maryland took the lead 70-68. The Huskers scored their final five points at the free throw line, but Maryland responded with three field goals from Ashley Owusu and won the game at the free throw line down the stretch. Owusu finished with 22 points, going 10-of-11 at the free throw line, including 7-for-7 in the fourth quarter. She finished with 13 points in the fourth, while Haiby managed 12.

Nebraska, which slipped to 12-12 overall, played Maryland tougher than any team since Ohio State upset the Terps, 88-86, on Jan. 25. No other team has played Maryland closer than 12 points since that loss. The Terrapins improved to 22-2 with their 11th straight win by double digits.

Statistically, the game came down to the free throw line, where Maryland outscored the Huskers 18-8, including 12-7 in the fourth quarter. Nebraska hit 27-of-65 field goal attempts for the game (.415), including 11-of-26 threes (.423). The Big Red hit 8-of-10 free throws and out-rebounded the Terps 39-32, although Maryland entered the game with a plus-eight rebound margin on average for the season.

Maryland hit 29-of-63 shots (.460), including 7-of-22 threes (.318), while going 18-for-21 at the free throw line. The Terps won the turnover battle, 19-10, but Nebraska outscored Maryland 13-10 in points off turnovers during the game.

Ashley Scoggin, who finished with 14 points, played a major role in keeping Nebraska within striking distance in the first half with 12 points in the first 20 minutes. Isabelle Bourne added another solid effort with 13 points and five rebounds, while Kate Cain played a strong game with eight points,11 rebounds and one block.

The Huskers hung tough against No. 7 Maryland in the first half, trailing just 38-34 at the break. Nebraska trailed 36-28 with 1:45 left in the half before Haiby beat the shot clock with a near half-court shot to save the possession. Scoggin then cut the lead to just four by burying her fourth three-pointer of the half.

Scoggin led Nebraska with 12 first-half points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting. As a team, Nebraska hit 7-of-14 first-half threes, while going 13-for-35 overall from the field. The Huskers out-rebounded the Terrapins 24-17 in the half but lost the first-half turnover battle, 11-5. Maryland hit 15-of-35 shots, including 4-of-12 threes, while knocking down 4-of-6 free throws. Chloe Bibby and Mimi Collins each scored 13 first-half points. Bibby finished the game with 18, as did Diamond Miller, while Collins closed with 17 points.

After winning the second quarter (+3) against the Terps, Nebraska matched Maryland blow-for-blow in the third quarter. In fact, the Huskers narrowed the game by outscoring Maryland 20-19 in the period, and the Terrapins never pushed the lead beyond six points at any point in the quarter.

Nebraska started the fourth quarter with the ball down 57-54 and Haiby promptly tied the game on the opening possession. Moments later, Haiby buried another three to put the Big Red up 60-57 and force a Maryland timeout with 8:55 left.

Out of the timeout, Bibby connected on a three to tie it at 60, before Cain answered for the Huskers with a bucket at the other end to put NU back up 62-60. Bibby answered with a layup of her own, before Haiby hit a pull-up jumper to give Nebraska the lead again at 64-62 with 7:43 left.

Miller put the Terps back in front with a three-pointer on the next possession, before Haiby hit another jumper to stake Nebraska to a 66-65 edge with 6:46 left. Owusu and Cain then exchanged two made free throws on back-to-back possessions to keep the Huskers in front 68-67 with 6:26 left.

Miller tied the game at 68 by making 1-of-2 free throws with 5:47 left, before Owusu hit a jumper in the paint with 4:49 left to put the Terps in front for good. It was the start of 11 straight points for Owusu, including five free throws, pushing Maryland’s lead to 79-73 with 34 seconds left.

The Huskers were unable to connect from the field down the stretch, and Maryland prevailed.

Nebraska will await word on its postseason hopes with the 64-team NCAA Tournament field and the 32-team WNIT field being announced on the evening of Monday, March 15.