With 10 minutes to play, Nebraska was down six.
At home on Friday night, against Michigan in NU’s conference opener, Nebraska trailed 43-37. It had been outrebounded by 10 to that point by one of the best rebounding teams in the country and outshot by 10 percentage points (39-29).
It took all of two minutes and 24 seconds for Nebraska to wrestle back the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
Nicea Eliely and Sam Haiby made sure the Huskers never gave it back, combining for 24 points between the two of them and fueling a 33-13 final frame to give the Huskers (6-6, 1-0 Big Ten) a 70-56 win over the Wolverines (9-4, 0-1 Big Ten).
Entering the fourth, Eliely, a junior guard, hadn’t taken a shot. She opened the quarter with a triple, hit each of her next two shots and knocked down 7-of-8 at the free throw line to finish with a game-high 14 points, all in the fourth. Which mean, yes, she single-handedly outscored the Wolverines 14-13 over the final 10 minutes. Eliely also finished with three steals, two boards and an assist.
She also got help from Haiby. The freshman super sub went for 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, including two crucial 3s late.
The first came after a Michigan and-one conversion cut Nebraska’s lead to just five with 1:30 to play. Haiby promptly splashed a 3 on the next Husker possession. Her final bucket served as the punctuation mark on the comeback.
In the fourth quarter, Nebraska hit nine of its 15 attempts from the field, including 3-of-4 from deep and 12-of-14 from the charity stripe. It also trimmed the rebounding deficit for the game with a 12-3 advantage in the fourth quarter that included five offensive rebounds on its eight missed shots. The Huskers turned it over once, forced seven Michigan turns and 10 points off them. Michigan shot 33 percent in the fourth.
"That was really rewarding as a coach to see all the things we have been preaching to our players — like staying locked in on defense, putting great ball pressure on the dribbler and closing out possessions with defensive rebounds — come together in the fourth quarter," coach Amy Williams said. "We played good defense for four quarters today, but especially in the fourth."
Nebraska got two others in double-figures for the game as well. Freshman guard Leigha Brown had 11 and a career-high five rebounds while senior forward Maddie Simon went for 10 points in 20 minutes. Sophomore center Kate Cain stuffed the stat sheet with five points, six rebounds, four blocked shots, two assists and a steal.
After an extended stay at home, Nebraska is back out on the road next for a New Year’s Eve matchup with the defending conference champion, Ohio State (4-6, 0-1 Big Ten). Things are scheduled to tip at noon on BTN.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.