Some frustration has set in for the Nebraska women’s basketball team as a promising start to the Big Ten Conference season has now been wiped away with three consecutive losses, the latest being a 62-56 loss against Rutgers on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska battled back from a 13-point second-quarter deficit to tie the game at 52 with 6 minutes, 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Rutgers outscored the Huskers 10-4 to end the game and kept Nebraska from leading at any point in the game.
Nebraska started the Big Ten season 2-0, but now has lost three straight in games against Iowa, Maryland and now Rutgers.
Maryland is ranked No. 9 in the country, and Rutgers (13-3) leads the Big Ten standings with a 5-0 record. But after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season, Nebraska had hoped it could beat teams like that, especially at home.
“It’s a disappointing loss on our home court,” said Nebraska coach Amy Williams, after Nebraska dropped to 7-9 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten.
Earlier in the week, Nebraska was within two points of Maryland in the third quarter, but had a bad finish in an 81-63 loss.
Frustration starting to show after another home loss. Amy Williams after loss to Rutgers: pic.twitter.com/9yzSr9rAlx— Brent Wagner (@LJSSportsWagner) January 13, 2019
On Sunday, Nebraska overcame a bad start and had the crowd behind them in a big way after the Huskers had rallied to tie the game, but couldn’t finish off the win.
The Nebraska players have been hard on themselves after the recent losses and questioning their own focus, and Williams says they should be hard on themselves.
“I think that’s good,” Williams said. “Right now we want them to kind of be a little more concerned. We lost two games in a row at home, and we don’t take that lightly. It’s something where they’re trying to find answers, and they’re trying to give a little bit more.”
Taylor Kissinger made a three-pointer for Nebraska with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 52 as part of an 8-0 run.
Rutgers had a scoring drought of more than five minutes that gave Nebraska a chance to take the lead, but the Huskers couldn’t convert on any of the five consecutive possessions where they could have taken the lead. In that stretch, Nebraska had two turnovers, missed two layups and didn’t get any offensive rebounds.
Nebraska had shot well from the free-throw line in the game, but then missed six of its last eight attempts of the game. After Kissinger’s three to tie the game, Nebraska went more than six minutes without a field goal.
“Every time I feel like it’s something different,” Williams said. “It could be some very critical missed free throws. We’re making a run, and then you go 0 for 2 from the free-throw line at a critical moment. It could be that we made a few bad decisions offensively where we just didn’t make the right read and decision and took some questionable shots in critical possessions down the stretch.”
Junior guard Ciani Cryor led Rutgers with 13 points.
Rutgers tied a season-high with nine three-pointers, and shot 56 percent on threes (9-16). Rutgers came into the game shooting just 32 percent on threes, but made its first four attempts of the game.
“We haven’t ever been known to be a three-point shooting team,” said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. “We’ve always been a great defensive team.”
Nebraska had a horrible start to the game, with five turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. Nebraska’s starters accounted for 16 of the Huskers’ 19 turnovers. Rutgers outscored the Huskers 20-14 in points off turnovers.
Freshmen accounted for 34 of Nebraska’s points. Leigha Brown scored 18, Kayla Mershon had seven, Sam Haiby had five and Ashtyn Veerbeek had four.
Kissinger added 11 points and made three three-pointers.