Michigan St. 71
1 2 3 4 Michigan State 18 8 15 30 NEBRASKA 27 15 20 20
Hannah Whitish led five Huskers in double figures with 16 points and Nebraska shot lights-out beyond the arc on its way to an 82-71 women’s basketball win over No. 24 Michigan State at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskers, who thrilled a season-high crowd of 5,588 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, led from start to finish to improve to 7-8 in the Big Ten and 12-14 overall, while knocking the No. 24 Spartans to 7-7 in the conference and 17-8 on the season.
Nebraska hit eight of its season-high 12 threes in the first half to run to a 42-26 halftime lead and never looked back while building a 22-point third-quarter lead. The Huskers also forced Michigan State into a season-high 23 turnovers.
Freshman Leigha Brown tied a career high with four three-pointers on five attempts to finish with 14 points in her second straight start. Brown was a perfect 4-for-4 from downtown to begin the game. Brown also tied for the team lead with five rebounds and dished out four assists.
Whitish hit a pair of threes on her way to 16 points, but it was a pair of late two-point baskets by Whitish that helped seal the win in the fourth quarter. Whitish also tied for the team lead with five assists and grabbed four rebounds. Whitish climbed to No. 3 on Nebraska’s career three-point list with 184, moving ahead of Yvonne Turner (183, 2007-10).
Sophomore Taylor Kissinger had 12 points and finished 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, while going a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line late in the fourth quarter to help secure Nebraska’s second win over a top-25 team this season.
Senior Maddie Simon, who also hit a pair of threes, and junior Nicea Eliely both threw in 10 points apiece in the victory. Eliely added a game-high four steals for the Big Red.
Sophomore Kate Cain played a huge role in the Spartans’ defensive woes. Cain rejected seven of Michigan State’s shots, a new season high for blocks, while adding eight points and two rebounds. Cain also set the Nebraska single-season record for blocked shots with 71.
Michigan State cut Nebraska’s lead down to as few as eight points with three minutes remaining, but a pair of layups by Whitish and a block by Cain extended Nebraska’s lead back to 12 points with 1:44 remaining. Michigan State outscored Nebraska 30-20 in the quarter, but it was not enough for the Spartans.
Victoria Gaines cut the Nebraska lead down to 14 points with her lay-up to open the second half, but the Huskers responded with an eight-point explosion to build their biggest lead of the game at 22 points. Kayla Mershon made a free throw and then Brown started the scoring explosion for the Huskers with a made triple. Whitish added a layup and Brown had a jumper in the paint to bring the score to 50-28 in favor of the Huskers with 7:53 remaining in the period. Michigan State cut the Nebraska lead back down to 13 midway through the quarter, before Nebraska finished the third period to take a 21-point lead to the fourth.
Nebraska shot 50.0 percent from both the field (27-54) and beyond the arc (12-24). The Huskers also shot 88.9 percent from the charity stripe (16-18). Michigan State finished at 41.5 percent (27-65), including (6-for-25) from three-point range. The Spartans were a perfect 11-for-11 at the free throw line. Nebraska had the advantage in assists (20-8) and blocks (8-4).
Nebraska set the tone early jumping to an 8-2 lead to force a Michigan State timeout just two minutes into the contest before taking a 27-18 lead at the end of the first quarter on the strength of 5-of-7 three-point shooting, including two each from Brown and Kissinger.
The Huskers continued to surge in the second quarter, taking their biggest lead at 18 points after a 7-0 run that started with a Hannah Whitish three, before heading to halftime with a 42-26 edge.
Nebraska hit 8-of-14 threes in the first half, including three from Brown, who also added three assists and three rebounds in her second straight start. Whitish led the Huskers with 10 first-half points on a pair of threes, while adding three rebounds and three assists of her own. Kissinger pitched in six in the half on her two threes, while Maddie Simon played well with five points on 2-of-2 shooting including a three. Eliely, Cain and Haiby each contributed four first-half points. Eliely added three steals, while Cain pitched in three blocks and Haiby had three assists and three rebounds.
As a team, Nebraska hit 50 percent (16-32) of its first half shots and both of its free throws, while out-rebounding Michigan State 19-17. The Huskers also won the first-half turnover battle 13-12.
The Spartans hit just 35.5 percent (11-31) of their shots, including just 1-of-8 from three-point range. MSU went 3-for-3 at the free throw line. Jenna Allen led Michigan State with seven points, while Nia Clouden added five points.
Nebraska heads back on the road Thursday to take on Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. Tip-off at Welsh-Ryan Arena is set for 7 p.m. with live audio provided by the Husker Sports Network and streaming video from BTN Plus.