Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Ashley Scoggin drives to the basket against Iowa Hawkeye's guard
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Caitlin Clark KOs Nebraska Again, Helps Hawkeyes Down Huskers 83-75

March 06, 2021

Nebraska closed out the 2020-21 regular-season Saturday night with a 83-75 loss to Iowa on the road. The defeat dropped NU to 11-11 for the season and 9-10 in conference play. 

It was a tough one to swallow. Nebraska played with a lead for much of the first three quarters and led entering the fourth. Then the dynamo freshman took over. 

Look at a pair of Bella Cravens jumpers. (Coming off injury, the forward gave NU 13 strong minutes off the bench—she was plus-6 on the court—so the focus isn’t to call out any aspect of her game.) Both of her buckets came from the mid-range, straight-line shots that just barely made it over the rim. 

They went in, but… eh. 

For the first 30 minutes, Nebraska’s offense felt kinda like that. NU wants to play in the 60s. If it was going to beat Iowa on the road to close out the regular season, it was likely going to need to keep the Hawkeyes from hitting 80. Through three, the Huskers led 60-58 thanks to red-hot shooting (56%). The Hawkeyes don’t play much defense, but Nebraska was doing a lot of the stuff it wanted to do to win.

Iowa was shooting well, too, at 51% for the game and 47% from 3 heading into the fourth. The offenses just looked a tad bit different. Iowa was getting looks. Nebraska was making shots. With a back-and-forth nature that favored the Hawkeyes, you wondered if a few possessions getting away from Nebraska would force some scrambling.

With 8:12 to play in the fourth, soon-to-be Big Ten Freshman of the Year guard Caitlin Clark hit a deep triple to give Iowa a 65-63 lead. The bucket came off an offensive rebound and kick-out to find Clark open from beyond the arc. 

Issie Bourne missed a jumper at the other end. 

Anni Stewart then fouled Clark hard on a drive the following possession, sending her to the free throw line. After a 30-second Husker timeout, Clark hit both of her freebies and Iowa went up two possessions. 

Entering the day, Iowa was second nationally in scoring and shooting efficiency, and third nationally in 3-point shooting. Clark, at 27 points per game, 7.1 assists per game, and 3.9 made 3s per contest, is a big part of that. 

Suddenly Iowa had a lead and momentum. 

A pair of missed Nebraska layups led to another Hawkeye bucket. Six-point advantage. 

Clark got back to the free throw line as the clock ticked under six to play and made two more foul shots. Eight-point advantage. 

Ashley Scoggin gave Nebraska a jolt at the other end, a quick-trigger triple to get Nebraska back to within five and end a three-minute scoring drought. Maybe the Huskers could return to the shooting form they’d held through the first three. Scoggin in particular was terrific, with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting (3-of-4 from deep). 

But no. 

Clark effectively called game with about a 28-foot straight-away triple 28 seconds later. Back to eight, 5:17 to play. 

Nebraska never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Williams thought that stretch—an 8-0 Iowa run, a stagnant offensive stretch—was crucial.

“When you have a stretch where maybe you get the shots you want to but they don’t go in, that’s where you need to dig deeper and lock down and find a way to commit and try to take away what the other team is going to try to do, which we knew it was going to be ‘try to go to Caitlin Clark,’” Husker coach Amy Williams said on the postgame radio show. 

“We just didn’t do that during that stretch and it cost us.”

Clark outscored Nebraska by herself in the fourth, 19-15. Nebraska missed 11 of its 16 fourth-quarter shots and Clark carried the Iowa offense on her back. She was 4-for-5 from the field, 3-for-4 from 3, and took eight foul shots. For the game, Clark scored 35. 

“We wanted to string together four quarters, 40 solid minutes, and I thought we did really well over here for three quarters and then had just an awful stretch to start the fourth quarter,” Williams said. “We knew Caitlin Clark would try to really establish herself in the fourth quarter. We wanted to try to limit touches and I thought she got a few too many opportunities to get to the free throw line. 

“Our kids fought and played really well to our gameplan for the first three quarters and then I just thought in the fourth quarter we kind of let it slip a little.”

It’s a disappointing way to end the season, for sure. Through the middle-portion of the season, Nebraska won six of eight games and ripped off three ranked wins. But since a 84-68 win over Wisconsin on Jan. 28, Nebraska has lost six of its final eight games. 

Nebraska will be the No. 9 seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. It’ll face Minnesota in the 8-9 matchup on Wednesday, March 10, at 10 a.m. CT on BTN. NU lost both regular-season games against the Gophers this season, 76-71 at home on Jan. 19 and 73-63 on the road on Feb. 24.

Should Nebraska advance, it’ll face No. 1 seed Maryland on Thursday at 10 a.m. CT on FS2. The Terps beat Nebraska 95-73 in Lincoln on Valentine’s Day.

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