Coral Gables, Fla. – Freshmen Ashtyn Veerbeek and Leigha Brown each produced career highs with 13 points off the bench to help lead the Nebraska women’s basketball team to its most complete game of the young season with a 77-39 win over Radford on Sunday at the Miami Thanksgiving Classic.
The Huskers, who improved to 2-3 with the victory, won all four quarters with balanced offense while providing their best defensive effort of the season in holding the preseason pick to win the Big South Conference to just 39 points. The Highlanders slipped to 3-2 with the loss.
Veerbeek pumped in a career-high 13 points, including the first three three-pointers of her career. The 6-2 power forward from Sioux Center, Iowa, also grabbed a game and career-high nine rebounds for the Big Red in just under 20 minutes of work.
Brown, a 6-1 wing from Auburn, Indiana, also notched a career best with 13 points in 20 minutes, including nine points in the second half to help the Huskers pull away late in the game.
Senior Maddie Simon gave the Big Red three players with 13 points, as the Lincoln Pius X grad scored five of Nebraska’s first seven points in the game to get the Huskers rolling early.
Kate Cain contributed eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks, while Nicea Eliely, Hannah Whitish and Sam Haiby all pitched in six points. Taylor Kissinger finished with five points, while Kayla Mershon added four points. Grace Mitchell added two in the first half and Kristian Hudson got a free throw as all 11 Huskers scored in the game.
For the game, Nebraska hit 47.7 percent (31-65) of its shots from the field, including 5-of-14 three-pointers (.357). The Huskers also hit 10-of-16 free throws (.625), while outworking the Highlanders on the glass, 46-41. The Big Red also dominated the turnover department, 13-9.
The Huskers, who held Radford to an opponent low 38 points, limited the Highlanders to just 16-of-65 shooting (.246), including just 1-for-16 from three-point range. The Highlanders hit 6-of-9 free throws.
Khiana Johnson led Radford with 13 points, while Destinee Walker pitched in 10 points and seven rebounds. Lydia Rivers contributed eight points and eight boards for the Highlanders.
Nebraska jumped out to a double-digit lead early, racing to a 12-2 lead after a Kissinger three-pointer with 6:03 left in the first quarter to force a Radford timeout.
The Big Red maintained a 22-13 lead at the end of the opening quarter then pushed the lead to 30-15 after a 6-0 run capped by a Brown bucket with 5:30 left in the half. The Huskers then took their biggest lead of the half at 34-18 with 2:43 left after a pair of free throws by Brown.
Nebraska hit 14-of-35 (.400) first-half shots, including 3-of-10 three-pointers, to go along with 3-of-6 free throws. In its best defensive first half of the season, the Huskers held Radford to just 21 points on 8-of-34 shooting (.235), including 1-of-8 threes. The Highlanders hit 4-of-6 free throws and won the first-half rebounding battle, 27-22. Nebraska won the first-half turnover battle, 8-5, and converted the eight Highlander turnovers into 10 points. The Huskers also held Radford without an assist in the first 20 minutes.
Johnson led Radford with nine first-half points, while Walker contributed eight points and five rebounds. Rivers was the only other Highlander to score in the half, finishing with four points – all at the free throw line.
Radford came out focused in the third quarter and was able to trim the NU lead to single digits just two minutes into the second half with a 6-0 run capped by a pair of free throws from Walker.
But Simon scored four of Nebraska’s next six points to get the Huskers back on track offensively.
After a Brown bucket pushed Nebraska’s lead back to 11 at 44-33 with 3:23 left in the third quarter, Eliely got a steal and a layup before Veerbeek buried back-to-back three-pointers in a one-minute span to put the Big Red up 52-35 with just over one minute left in the quarter. They were Nebraska’s only three-pointers of the second half.
Nebraska, which closed the third quarter with a 4-0 run, scored the first five points of the fourth quarter capped by a free throw from Veerbeek with 7:54 left to extend the margin to 58-35.
The Huskers, who outscored the Highlanders 24-4 in the final period, scored the game’s final 15 points over the last four minutes.
Nebraska returns to road action on Thursday when the Huskers travel to No. 5 Louisville to take on the Cardinals. Tip-off between the Big Red and the 2018 NCAA Final Four qualifiers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is set for 6 p.m. (CT).