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Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Huskers Bounce Back With Blowout Win Over Penn State

January 11, 2023

Kendall Moriarty corralled an errant inbound pass in the backcourt with just five seconds left to play.

Normally in this situation, with the game’s victor already decided, the Huskers would just hold the ball up until the final buzzer sounded. But on this instance, there was a small difference between shot clock and game clock. The team had just 3.7 seconds to shoot when the ball touched the guard’s hands.

So, Moriarty dribbled a few times down the sideline, flinging up a one-handed shot from halfcourt with a defender closely guarding her.

It went in.

The circus shot was Nebraska’s 13th 3-pointer of the game, capping off an 80-51 win over Penn State. This shooting performance came just four days after the Huskers missed 21 consecutive threes, shot 2-for-25 beyond the arc and scored 45 points in a loss to Rutgers.

“All that I could think is that, I felt like at Rutgers we took really, really good shots all night and couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “Now we’re making off one foot, one hand, three-quarter court, flip it up and it’s going in the basket. Sometimes that happens.”

It was a night full of various stats of note for the Huskers as they snapped a three-game losing streak. Williams earned her 300th career coaching win. Jaz Shelley recorded her first double-double of the season, and was just one rebound shy of a triple-double. Isabelle Bourne scored her 1000th career point in a double-digit outing. The two players, both from Australia, did so on the program’s “Australia Night.”

Nebraska’s leading scorer in the game, freshman guard Callin Hake, set a career-high with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting. It was her third double-digit performance in the last four games after not having any previously. She’s had to step into a bigger role due to the team’s injuries.

“I think coach mentioned it, we had a conversation, she’s like, ‘Christmas, Thanksgiving,’ things really start to click,” Hake said. “She was spot on with that, definitely. And I think just playing with great teammates that feed you confidence even if you make a bad play, make a turnover, they give their energy to you and just uplift you. It makes this game click even more.”

The first four makes for the Huskers were 3-pointers, Hake hitting the last two to help build a 12-8 Nebraska lead. She then followed that up with a layup, and the team raced out to a 21-10 lead by the end of the opening quarter.

They never relinquished their double-digit advantage after the early minutes of the second quarter, even extending the lead to 21 in the period as Shelley orchestrated the offense well and Hake hit another three to match her career-high before halftime.

An 11-0 Penn State run brought the differential back to 10 late in the quarter, but the Huskers responded by finding Maddie Krull in the corner for a three in the final seconds prior to the break.

Krull also has found recent success, scoring 14 points against Penn State to mark a second straight double-digit outing. Before the Rutgers game, she hadn’t scored in double figures since the season opener against Nebraska-Omaha.

She also accidentally helped create a highlight, throwing the poorly-placed inbound to Moriarty in the final seconds.

“I definitely screwed up that inbounds at the end, so [Moriarty] really helped me out there,” Krull said postgame. “Hopefully I don’t get in trouble.”

Williams had nothing but praise for the sophomore transfer guard, along with Hake.

“The biggest thing, to me, is that they stayed locked in defensively to the gameplan,” she said. “They were communicating on the floor, and just great performances from two newcomers in our program.”

The defensive end was a major highlight for the team in the victory, holding Penn State to a season-low 51 points. Shelley had two blocks and three steals, and Nebraska forced 19 turnovers. Makenna Marisa, one of the top scorers in the Big Ten, put up 14 points but needed 19 shots to get there.

Nebraska’s lead extended back beyond 20 in the third quarter, partially thanks to a pair of threes from Krull.

Shelley continued to accumulate stats, and an assist to Hake with five minutes left in the game gave her 10 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. However, the team was up 34 at that point, so Williams pulled her star guard from the game soon after.

Even knowing that Shelley was on the brink of a rare statistical accomplishment, the head coach was aware of more than just the present moment. She said postgame that she decided to bring her to the bench to avoid potential injury.

Nebraska’s struggled with injuries this year, and the junior guard has carried a heavy load. Shelley is third in the Big Ten in minutes played, and has been on the court for 40 minutes or more four times this season. The Huskers also have an important matchup upcoming, as No. 3 Ohio State will come to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday.

It’ll be the seventh ranked opponent Nebraska has faced so far, and the highest-ranked one yet. But even as that matchup looms, the team’s just happy to have shaken off last game’s poor showing.

“I think it was imperative,” Hake said of winning this game. “I think it was a statement win and also a revenge win. We had the outcome at Rutgers that we didn’t want. To come back to PBA and show our fanbase who we really are as Huskers women’s basketball players was imperative and we get to do it again here with Ohio State later this week.”

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