Lincoln – Taylor Kissinger led five Huskers in double figures with 18 points, as Nebraska displayed a prolific offense for 40 minutes in a 96-71 women’s basketball win over visiting Denver on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska notched its third consecutive win to complete a three-game home stand and improve to 5-5 on the year, while Denver slipped to 7-4 on the season.
Kissinger, a 6-1 sophomore from Minden, Neb., knocked down four three-pointers to lead the Huskers from long range, while freshman Leigha Brown came off the bench to add 18 points and a career-high five assists.
Fellow freshman Ashtyn Veerbeek added 14 big points off the bench along with five rebounds. Sophomore center Kate Cain also contributed 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting while pitching in five rebounds and a pair of blocks. Junior wing and Colorado native Nicea Eliely scored a season-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Nebraska also got a solid all-around effort from freshman guard Sam Haiby, who scored seven points along with career highs of six rebounds and eight assists. Haiby’s eight assists came without a turnover. As a team, the Huskers put together their best passing game of the season with 27 assists on 34 made baskets while committing just 11 turnovers against the Pioneers.
The impressive team effort by the Big Red offset one of the top individual performances by an opponent in Husker history. Denver point guard Samantha Romanowski erupted for a career-high 33 points on a building record 8-for-8 three-point shooting. Overall, Romanowski went 12-for-18 from the field while playing more than 39 minutes in the game.
Romanowski, who was averaging just 8.5 points per game coming into the contest, helped Denver hit 10-of-24 threes on the day, but the rest of the Pioneers were just 2-for-16.
While Romanowski went off, the Huskers silenced DU’s leading scorer Lauren Loven, who came into the game averaging 17 points per contest. Loven got just two points on a pair of free throws.
Madison Nelson also played 39 minutes for the Pioneers and produced 19 points, including a pair of threes, while Courtney Smith pitched in 10 points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
Nebraska hit 50.7 percent (34-67) of its shots for the game on the way to outscoring Denver in each of the four quarters. The Huskers hit just 28 percent (7-25) of their threes but knocked down 77.8 percent (21-27) of their free throws. Nebraska won the rebound battle 39-36 and the turnover war 16-11. Most importantly, the Huskers outscored the Pioneers 23-0 in points off turnovers, and dominated Denver 52-14 in the paint. The Big Red bench also outscored the Denver reserves 40-3.
The Huskers held Denver to 39 percent (23-59) shooting, and the Pioneers hit just 57.7 percent (15-26) of their free throws in a tightly but consistently called game that featured 43 combined fouls.
Nebraska used the highest scoring first quarter in school history to jump out to a 31-19 lead. The Husker bench played a huge role in the first-quarter outburst as Veerbeek (8), Brown (6) and Haiby combined for 16 of the 31 points in the quarter. Haiby capped the quarter with her end-to-end layup to beat the buzzer in the final four seconds.
Kissinger added six points on a pair of first-quarter threes, while Eliely pitched in five points despite early foul trouble. Cain contributed four points in the opening period.
The Huskers continued to extend the lead throughout the second quarter, building their biggest first-half margin at 52-35 on Haiby’s bucket with 34 seconds left in the quarter. Denver scored in the final seconds to make the halftime margin in Nebraska’s favor, 52-37.
Veerbeek led the Big Red with 12 points and three rebounds in nine first-half minutes, while Kissinger contributed 11 points on a trio of threes. Brown put three Huskers in double figures in the half with 10 points.
In the half, Nebraska hit 50 percent (16-32) of its shots, but just 4-of-13 threes. The Huskers were also a strong 16-of-19 (.842) at the line, while forcing all kinds of foul trouble on the Pioneers.
Romanowski led all scorers with 15 first-half points on 4-of-4 shooting from three-point range, but the Huskers also forced five turnovers by Romanowski in the half, outscoring the Pioneers 10-0 in points off turnovers Nelson pitched in 10 points in the half for the Pioneers, including 2-for-2 three-point shooting.
Nebraska held Denver to 12-of-30 shooting (.400) in the half, including 6-of-11 (.545) three-point shooting, but hit just 7-of-14 free throws. The Huskers outworked Denver 20-16 on the boards and won the first-half turnover battle 8-6.
The Huskers complete their non-conference season Tuesday, when they travel to Arkansas. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Razorbacks from Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville is set for 7 p.m. (CT) with live radio coverage by the Husker Sports Network. A live video stream will be available through SEC Network plus.