Two up, two down for Nebraska to open the 2019-20 season.
Nebraska outlasted former Big Eight rival Missouri on the road Sunday with a 90-85 win in overtime that featured a career-high 28 points from Sam Haiby, 24 points from Leigha Brown, and a 3 in the game’s closing seconds of regulation to tie.
Haiby, a sophomore guard, hit 11 of her 19 takes from the field, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. She scored NU's first eight points of the game and the team’s final 3 with four seconds left to tie things at 76. She scored 18 points after halftime.
Brown, another sophomore, also put up 18 points after halftime, and delivered the assist on Haiby’s overtime-forcing triple.
Senior point guard Hannah Whitish pitched in 12 points to go along with team-highs of seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, while also taking several big charges to get stops for the Huskers before fouling out late in overtime.
Fellow senior Nicea Eliely, who was the first of three Huskers to foul out in the game, added 10 points in 24 minutes. For the contest, Nebraska was whistled for 30 fouls, which led to 31 points for the Tigers at the line. But it was Nebraska that made free throws down the stretch to seal the win, including a perfect 6-for-6 shooting in overtime from sophomores Ashtyn Veerbeek (2-2), Brown (2-2) and Haiby (2-2). Nebraska hit 15 of its final 18 attempts at the stripe after opening 5-for-10.
Veerbeek finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists despite fighting foul trouble the entire contest.
Haiby’s hot start helped the Huskers build an eight-point (18-10) first-quarter lead before settling for a 21-18 edge at the end of the period. Nebraska started strong again in the second quarter, jumping out to a 29-20 lead, but Missouri again responded down the stretch to make things tight at halftime. Haiby did not shoot or score in the second quarter, and Nebraska entered the half up 31-29.
The Huskers rebuilt the lead to eight points midway through the third quarter, only to see the Tigers rally late again. Nebraska went to the final period with a 54-51 lead. With 4:47 to play in the game, NU held a 67-59 advantage. A 9-1 run from Missouri, jolted by freshman Alijha Blackwell and her 21 points off the bench, tied things at 68 late. A traditional three-point play gave Mizzou its first lead of the game at 71-69 with two minutes left.
Back-and-forth free throws down the stretch gave Missouri a 76-73 edge, its biggest of the game, with 11.8 seconds left. A turnover and foul from Nebraska put Blackwell on the line with a chance to ice the game, but she missed both free throws. Haiby grabbed the board, kicked to Brown, then Brown gave it back up to Haiby on the left wing for the game-tying bucket.
Nebraska was able to keep Missouri at bay throughout the overtime period.
For the game, the Huskers shot 40.8% from the field and held Missouri to 36.5%. Both teams hit eight 3s, but Nebraska won the turnover battle (13-19) and the boards (46-45).
Nebraska returns to Lincoln for a four-game homestand at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday night, when the team welcomes Morgan State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be on BTN+.