Minneapolis, Minn. – Nebraska managed just 22 points in the second half, as Minnesota rallied for a 67-61 win over the Huskers at Williams Arena on Thursday night.
With the loss, Nebraska slipped to 15-6 on the season and 5-5 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota improved to 13-8 and 3-7 in the league.
Leigha Brown led Nebraska with 15 points, including 13 in the first half, while Hannah Whitish added 13 points, but just three after halftime. Sam Haiby gave Nebraska three players in double figures with 10 points. Isabelle Bourne added eight points, four rebounds, two steals and a career-high three blocks, while Kate Cain managed four points, six rebounds and six blocks, becoming Nebraska’s career leader with 241 blocked shots.
Jasmine Powell led Minnesota with a game-high 19 points, including 13 in the second half, to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and four steals. Jasmine Brunson added 16 points, six assists and five steals. Taiye Bello led the Gophers inside with 13 points and 10 rebounds, including nine points and eight boards in the second half. Sara Scalia rounded out four Gophers in double figures with 11 points.
Minnesota hit 12-of-31 shots from the field in the second half and added 11-of-13 free throws. The Huskers went just 10-for-28 after halftime and 1-for-2 at the free throw line. For the game, Nebraska out-shot Minnesota (42.9-36.9 percent) and out-rebounded the Gophers, 41-35, but Minnesota outscored the Huskers 10-2 in second-chance points, including 7-2 in the second half.
After a back-and-forth first half, Nebraska took a 39-30 lead to the halftime locker room. The Huskers surged down the stretch in the half, using a 12-0 run over a 3:10 stretch to turn a 27-27 tie into a 39-27 lead. Brown, Whitish and Minnesotan Kayla Mershon played major roles during the run, as Brown and Whitish each scored five points, while Mershon added the other bucket while also picking up three stops with defensive rebounds for the Big Red during the run.
Brown led all scorers in the first half with 13 points off the bench, while Whitish added 10 big points, four assists and four rebounds in the opening half. Bourne also helped the Huskers with six points and two steals off the bench in the first half, as the Husker bench outscored the Minnesota reserves 21-3 in the first 20 minutes.
Nebraska hit 50 percent (14-28) of its shots from the field in the half, but just 1-of-4 three-pointers. The Huskers were also a perfect 10-for-10 at the free throw line in the half, while out-rebounding Minnesota 22-15. NU held Minnesota to 35.3 percent (12-34) shooting, but the Gophers did hit 3-of-11 three-pointers. Minnesota was just 3-for-5 at the line. The Gophers won the first-half turnover battle, 9-7, but Nebraska outscored Minnesota 20-6 in fastbreak points in the first half.
But the Gopher defense turned the tables on the Huskers in the second half. Minnesota outscored Nebraska 14-0 off turnovers in the second half, forcing 13 turnovers by the Big Red in the second half while the Gophers committed just five turnovers of their own in the second half.
Nebraska’s turnovers helped the Gophers open the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 40-39 lead with 5:32 left in the third, capping a 13-0 run that immediately followed NU’s 12 run late in the first half. But the Huskers responded with a 6-0 run of their own to regain a 45-40 lead and took a 48-47 lead to the fourth quarter.
Whitish opened the third with Nebraska’s only other three-pointer of the game before back-to-back baskets by Haiby and Cain pushed NU’s edge to 55-49 with 8:22 left. But the Huskers managed just a Nicea Eliely layup over the next 6:37, as Minnesota surged to a 62-57 lead with 1:59 left. Eliely finished with seven points and five rebounds on the night.
Brown got her only points of the second half to cut the Minnesota edge to 62-59 with 1:45 left, but the Huskers could get no closer.
The Huskers return to Big Ten home action on Sunday by taking on Ohio State. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Buckeyes at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 2 p.m.