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Daily Nebraskan

March 3, 2016
Huskers Fall in Big Ten Tournament
          1   2   total 
Rutgers  34  32    66 
NEBRASKA 33  30    63 

Indianapolis, IND. — Natalie Romeo tied her own Nebraska Big Ten Tournament record by knocking down seven three-pointers, and Allie Havers added her second straight double-double, but it wasn't enough as the Huskers suffered a 66-63 loss to Rutgers in their opening game of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Nebraska slipped to 18-12 overall after finishing Big Ten regular-season play with a 9-9 mark and earning the No. 7 seed in the tournament. Rutgers improved to 18-13 overall after going 8-10 in the conference and earning the No. 10 seed.

Romeo finished with a game-high 23 points by hitting 7-of-10 threes and 8-of-16 shots overall. It pushed her season school-record total to 100 three-pointers.

Havers added 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting, primarily on mid-range jumpshots, and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the year.

In a gutsy effort, Nebraska rallied from a 14-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to take its biggest lead at 55-46 on a Maddie Simon three-pointer with 9:16 left in the game. The freshman finished with nine points and four rebounds in her Big Ten Tournament debut.

Nebraska maintained a 58-50 lead with 7:22 left after a Jessica Shepard free throw. Shepard, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, finished with just four points on 1-of-9 shooting. The 6-4 forward from Fremont, Neb., was slowed by a stress reaction in her foot that kept her out of practice the last three days.

Rutgers scored seven straight points to trim the margin to 58-57, before Romeo hit her seventh three of the game and 100th of the season with 4:32 left to put NU back up 61-57.

Nebraska held on to a 63-60 lead with 1:56 left after a pair of free throws by Jasmine Cincore, who finished with four points and a career-high six assists. Cincore started her fourth consecutive game in place of senior All-Big Ten point guard Rachel Theriot, who did not make the trip to Indianapolis after undergoing surgery on her injured ankle Monday morning. Theriot was the 2014 Big Ten Tournament MVP.

Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications
Natalie Romeo tied her own Big Ten Tournament record with seven three-pointers in Thursday's loss to Rutgers.

Those were the final points for the Huskers, who committed three turnovers and got up just one shot, a desperation three by Romeo as time expired, in the final 1:55.

Shrita Parker, who scored a career-high 18 points for the Scarlet Knights, scored four points down the stretch, including two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to seal the win. Tyler Scaife, who finished with 10 points, hit the go-ahead jumper with 1:12 left for RU.

Senior Kahleah Copper added 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while senior center Rachel Hollivay contributed eight points and 10 rebounds.

Rebounding was big for the Scarlet Knights in the fourth quarter, as Rutgers pulled down eight offensive rebounds in the final period. The late push on the glass allowed RU to win the battle of the boards, 38-32. Rutgers also won the turnover battle, 14-8, including 6-1 in the final period.

For the game, Nebraska hit 44.2 percent (23-52) of its shots, including a sizzling 9-of-14 from three-point range. The Huskers also hit 8-of-10 free throws.

Rutgers shot 42.6 percent (29-68), including 3-of-10 threes, but just 5-of-11 free throws.

In a back-and-forth first half, Rutgers dominated the first quarter and used a 13-0 run to end the period to take a 23-9 lead to the second quarter.

Nebraska hit just 3-of-14 shots and just 1-of-4 threes in the opening quarter, while Rutgers went 11-for-18 from the floor in the first 10 minutes.

Nebraska still trailed 26-13 with 7:10 left in the first half, before catching fire. The Big Red outscored Rutgers 18-5 over the next 5:07 to tie the game at 31 after the third consecutive by Romeo in a span of 1:22 tied the game at 31.

Romeo led all scorers in the first half with 14 points, including 4-of-6 three-point shooting, while adding three assists and a steal. Havers added eight points on 4-of-8 shooting from mid-range.

The Huskers hit 10-of-15 shots in the second quarter, including all four of their three-point attempts, but trailed Rutgers 34-33 at the half, despite outscoring the Scarlet Knights 24-11 in the second period. RU went just 4-of-14 from the floor in the second quarter.

For the half, Nebraska hit 44.8 percent (13-29) from the field, including 5-of-8 threes, and both of its free throws. Both teams had 16 first-half rebounds, while Rutgers won the first-half turnover battle, 6-4.

Rutgers hit 46.9 percent (15-32) of its shots, including 2-of-5 threes, while hitting 2-of-3 free throws. Hollivay and Copper each scored seven points to lead Rutgers in the half.

Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.