Nebraska women’s basketball held on until it couldn’t.
The Huskers had been kept at bay for three quarters against No.9 Virginia Tech after being outscored 21-8 in the opening period, but weren’t out of reach heading into the fourth.
The Hokies, up 11 at halftime, threatened to break away after scoring the first five points in the third quarter and holding the Huskers scoreless for nearly the first three minutes. Nebraska answered back with five of its own though, and the teams continued to battle back and forth.
With under a minute left in the third, Alexis Markowski hit a three. That was her second make in the quarter after shooting 1-for-6 in the first half, and it cut the deficit to 10.
But as it had done all night, Virginia Tech responded. Georgia Amoore came off a screen and nailed a three, almost immediately erasing the most significant progress Nebraska made in the quarter. The third quarter ended with Allison Weidner being unaware of the time on the clock, still dribbling as the buzzer sounded.
Those 30 seconds were a precursor to the fourth quarter, where Virginia Tech opened the floodgates by scoring 17 more unanswered points to increase its lead to 30. The Huskers scored their first points of the period almost five minutes in, and were outscored 30-12 in the final 10 minutes to lose 85-54.
Amoore provided entertainment in the final stretch with the game out of reach, grabbing her 10th rebound with under a minute left to secure a triple-double. The Australian guard finished with a career-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, all while shooting 8-for-15 and turning it over just once. It was the first triple-double ever for the program.
Virginia Tech, now 7-0, played without second-leading scorer and top bench option Kayana Traylor, and lost starter Ashley Owusu to a finger injury in the first quarter.
Still, the top-10 team came out firing, and had an answer for nearly anything Nebraska did. Amoore opened the game by assisting on a make by Elizabeth Kitley in the paint. Then, she made highlight-worthy plays on four of the next six possessions. She opened up an easy layup by crossing over Weidner, hit a stepback jumper and then nailed a three. Amoore took a three on the next offensive trip down the floor and missed, but Nebraska turned it over and she threaded a bounce pass in transition for another layup.
That last play was the start of a 12-2 run for Virginia Tech, as it ended the first quarter up 21-8.
In the middle two quarters, the Huskers started to play more evenly with their highly-touted opponents. But 3-pointers from the Hokies repeatedly prevented meaningful runs.
Virginia Tech’s D’asia Gregg attempted to rip through with the ball early in the second quarter, but was called for a foul upon elbowing Trinity Brady in the head. That elbow sidelined Brady for the rest of the game, but the foul was upgraded to an intentional foul, and Annika Stewart made two free throws to cap a 6-0 Husker run that made the score 26-16.
Two possessions later, Taylor Soule drained a wide open three to halt that effort. Stewart kept pushing though, making two threes and another jumper to cut the deficit to eight points with 39 seconds left before the break. But this time, Gregg hit an open three from the left wing to take the Hokies into halftime up 35-24.
With under six minutes to go in the third quarter, Soule was given room to hit another 3-pointer and celebrated with a Michael Jordan-esque shrug. The shot was only her second made three of the game, it wasn’t contested heavily, and it just moved a 11-point lead back to 14.
But the reaction was fitting in the context of the forward’s career. Soule, a graduate transfer from Boston College, had made just three of her 29 career 3-point attempts coming into tonight. She had played in 119 games, starting most of them. Through three quarters against Nebraska, she nearly matched her previous career total in makes beyond the arc.
She finished with 18 points, third on the team behind Kitley and Amoore. Kitley, a preseason All-American, was met with strong defense from Markowski and the Husker frontcourt in the first half, but scored 15 of her 24 points in the final two quarters. All but two of her 12 rebounds came in the first half, however.
Jaz Shelley finished the game with four points and six assists on 2-for-10 shooting, while Markowski was 3-for-10. Isabelle Bourne served as the team’s biggest strength, putting up 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Nebraska dropped to 5-3 and 0-3 on the road this year, losing each game by double-digits. The next contest brings another challenge, with the Huskers taking on No. 20 Maryland. The Terrapins dropped out of the top 15 of the AP poll after losing to DePaul, but finalized a win over No. 7 Notre Dame at the buzzer as Nebraska’s loss winded down.
The game is set for noon on Sunday, also serving as Nebraska’s last road matchup prior to a five-game home stretch.