Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Huskers Overwhelmed in Top-25 Matchup, Lose by 26 to Creighton

November 15, 2022

In the middle of the second quarter, Nebraska’s offense showed some life. 

Kendall Moriarty hit a layup to break a Husker field goal drought. Creighton responded with one of its own. Then, Isabelle Bourne, Maddie Krull and Allison Weidner hit their first buckets of the game. Moriarty made a play on the other end, blocking a shot near the rim. On the next offensive possession, the Huskers hit Annika Stewart for a wide open 3-point attempt.

Airball. 

The shot only would’ve cut the deficit back to 10 after the team’s slow start to the night. But instead it stayed at 13, and Nebraska never got closer. The Bluejays scored the next six points, and Nebraska turned it over three times in that span.

The No. 22 Huskers went into tonight hoping to shine in a competitive top-25 matchup with an in-state rival. They left with a 77-51 loss, marking their biggest margin of defeat since the 2020-21 season.

“Obviously, our team is quite disappointed with the outcome of this ballgame and we felt like this was going to be a much more competitive outing and we know that we’re capable of that,” head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “And so we walk away being a little disappointed but also tipping our hats to Creighton as they are very experienced and deep and well-coached.”

Creighton, which had opened its season with two road wins against teams in or near the top 25, dominated on both ends in its home opener. The No. 20 Bluejays shot 11-for-24 from beyond the arc, and junior Molly Mogensen scored a career-high 22 points with four threes. Of those points, 19 came in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Huskers had an equal number of field goals made and turnovers. They shot just 31% from the field, including 26.7% in the first quarter. Even Creighton head coach Jim Flanery was a bit surprised with the level of defensive success his team had.

“I never would’ve thought we could hold them to 51,” Flanery said postgame. “What I’d seen on film for the first two games was a lot different than what I saw tonight.”

The Bluejays, in front of a home crowd of 2,306, never trailed in the contest. They raced to a 7-2 lead, and a Jaz Shelley 3-pointer was answered with a 9-0 run. That 11-point advantage was held through the rest of the quarter.

Mogensen made back-to-back threes early in the second period to extend the lead to 17. She missed the following attempt the next possession, despite it being more open than the makes.

At halftime, the Huskers had 11 turnovers to 10 made shots. Shelley and Alexis Markowski, the team’s most productive players in the half and on the night, combined for five giveaways in the first 20 minutes. Still, their 16 combined points kept a comeback within the realm of possibility. Williams was more concerned at the time with the defensive effort.

“I was most disappointed that to start the ball game in the first half, we gave up 45 points and did not really commit to carrying out the defensive gameplan that we wanted,” she said. “I thought they were getting all of the looks and shots that they wanted to and we wanted to try to take away from them.”

The defense did step up in the second half, and Creighton shot just 29.4% from the field in the third quarter. But just like in the second quarter, any chance for a real push didn’t last. Markowski grabbed an offensive rebound to open the half and earned a trip to the line — making one of two free throws. The Huskers allowed two offensive boards the next possession, the second having bounced out to the 3-point line while some nearby players watched. That allowed Creighton to hit another three.

At one point in the third quarter, Isabelle Bourne recorded three turnovers on four consecutive possessions, missing a layup on the other. The Husker offense still couldn’t break through, even as Creighton’s slowed down.

Nebraska cut the deficit to 16 with a 6-0 run to end the third quarter, but ended with a whimper. Creighton started the final period with eight straight points, and the Huskers scored seven total in the fourth.

Shelley and Markowski accounted for 26 of the team’s 51 points, and the latter had 11 rebounds.

Although it was an in-state matchup, this was Nebraska’s first road game of the season. The Huskers took six of their nine losses on the road last year, and Shelley mentioned it as a point where the team needs to improve.

“I definitely think on the road, we have to step up,” she said. “We have to lean into each other and we have to be able to find a way to come together and get confidence within each other because I mean, we have the crowd against us. That’s where we have to we have to fight and we have to believe in each other and stick to the gameplan.”

They’ll get another opportunity to do so in their next game against Drake in Des Moines, Iowa. The Bulldogs are 1-1, but that loss came in overtime against Iowa — a top-five team in the nation. Williams acknowledged the challenge that will come on Saturday.

“The message really is that we can learn from this and use it to help us because we’re gonna have an another really tough road test on Saturday with another very experienced team in Drake,” Williams said. “So if we can correct some things that we learned from this game and find a way to move forward, then I think we’ve got another really good opportunity in front of us.”

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