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Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Amy Williams crouches down on the sideline to help coach the team during the game
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Huskers Drop Third Straight in 83-72 Road Loss to Purdue

December 23, 2020

Guard Ashley Scoggin might have found her groove offensively and forward Issie Bourne posted her best scoring effort of her still-young Husker career, but Nebraska couldn’t match its offensive output with defensive stops, and so Purdue handed Nebraska its third straight loss, 83-72, Wednesday afternoon.

Offense wasn’t the issue on the day. Nebraska reached 70 points after putting up just 45 in a Sunday loss to Indiana. 

Bourne was excellent, with eight points and two 3s after just the first quarter. She finished with 22 points, marking the second time this year she’s gone for 20 after hitting double-digits only four times in 30 appearances as a freshman in 2019. She had an outside shot working to complement what has become a really efficient post game (she was 10-for-17 overall), and added seven boards and four assists. 

Scoggins, a sophomore transfer addition this offseason from Salt Lake City CC, was equally impressive scoring the ball. She was held scoreless in 31 minutes Sunday against the Hoosiers, her second scoreless outing in her first five games. The adjustment to D1 basketball, particularly in the Big Ten, and the confidence to take defenders off the dribble after persistent knee injuries prior to her arrival have been a work in progress. But Wednesday may have marked the start of something for the starter. She had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and looked for her shot a little more aggressively than normal. 

Junior guard Sam Haiby added another 16 points. 

On a normal day in a normal situation, that kind of production might be enough. 

But for the shorthanded Huskers, this isn’t a normal situation. And they were playing their second game in four days.

Nebraska has all of two options on its bench, both of them freshmen, and neither scored against the Boilermakers. The offensive onus is squarely on the starting five, particularly Haiby. Bourne played 38 minutes, Scoggin played 36, and Haiby played 33. 

There just wasn’t enough for Nebraska on the defensive end to stay in the game. 

Purdue was allowed to get inside off the dribble. Haiby was beaten on multiple occasions. Center Kate Cain wasn’t great hedging ball screens. Inside positioning was surrendered too easily. 

Haiby took 18 shots to get her 16 points. Many of them were wild drives to the hoop hoping for contact and a foul or fortuitous bounces at the rim. They came either early in the shot clock or in transition. When she came up short, Purdue pushed the issue the other way before Nebraska set its defense and found the mismatches to exploit. 

The Boilermakers shot 64% in the first quarter. In the second, an 18-4 spurt created enough of a gap that Nebraska was never able to fully bridge. In the third quarter, they shot 50% from the floor. 

Ten 3s fell (on 22 attempts, 45%), and of the 33 missed shots, Purdue rebounded a third of them. Not much was forced.

Simply put: it was too easy for Purdue at that end. 

When they got to their spots, they hit shots. Guard Kayana Traylor was excellent off the dribble, with 21 points and seven assists. When Purdue missed, it created second chances. 

Nebraska was trying to play catch-up from the second quarter on. 

It shot 47% in the second half and scored 23 fourth-quarter points, but never got within 10 points of the Boilermakers for the last 15 minutes of play.

That’s tough. 

Nebraska will have eight days off before its next game—a home contest with Northwestern on Dec. 31 scheduled for a 1 p.m. CT tip. Head coach Amy Williams will hope for some improved health with the holiday break. 

Neither of NU’s transfer guards—MiCole Cayton or Nailah Dillard—have played yet this season. Trinity Brady, a starter on the wing, hasn’t played since Dec. 6 (ankle). Ruby Porter, a reserve wing, was lost to a similar-looking ankle injury against Creighton on Dec. 14. None of them traveled with the team to West Lafayette on Wednesday. 

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