Nebraska trailed by nine midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday. Fueled by freshman guard Sam Haiby, the Huskers embarked on a furious comeback attempt that actually gave them an 80-79 lead with just over a minute to play. But, Arkansas made enough plays in the closing minute to hold on for an 84-80 win.
Haiby finished with 16 points to lead the Huskers and had a chance to tie in the final minute but her shot rimmed out. Arkansas hit free throws to close things down and move to 8-3 on the season. Nebraska finished nonconference play at 5-6 after starting last season 9-4.
The Arkansas bucket that gave the Razorbacks the lead again came from sophomore guard Chelsea Dungee with 43 seconds left. She added a free throw with 24 seconds left to give Arkansas a two-point lead and give her a game-high 23 points. She scored 20 of those in the second half.
And Dungee wasn’t the only Razorback to find success shooting. All five starters finished in double figures and accounted for all 53 points for the Razorbacks in the final 20 minutes.
On the other side, Nebraska was powered by freshmen from its bench, a developing trend on the year. Haiby still leads the team in scoring, but she got help in the form of 14 points and five rebounds from forward Ashtyn Veerbeek. Guard Leigha Brown added nine and forward Kayla Mershon had six points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Nebraska's bench outscored the Arkansas bench 45-11.
Starting center Kate Cain fouled out in 17 minutes after a four-point, five-rebound, three-block performance. Senior forward Maddie Simon had four points on 1-of-3 shooting with four turnovers.
Nebraska took a 36-31 lead into the locker room after a 40-foot heave at the buzzer from Brown fell, capping a 5-0 run from Nebraska in the final 20 seconds. And Brown only got a shot off because Mershon hit the floor diving for a loose ball turnover and found Brown breaking towards the basket.
All throughout the opening 20 minutes, Nebraska looked like the team in control. It began the game with a 15-2 start and even after Arkansas worked its way back into the game and wrestled the lead away in the second quarter, Nebraska responded.
Things went back and forth through the third until the hectic fourth.
For the game, Nebraska was hot from deep (43 percent, 9-for-21), but it was on fire in the first half and cooled significantly in the second. Nebraska outshot Arkansas in every category but the Razorbacks drilled 9-of-18 triples in the second half. That proved to be enough.
Nebraska will enjoy its longest break from competition during the season over the next nine days before returning to Pinnacle Bank Arena to open Big Ten play against Michigan on Friday, Dec. 28. Tip is set for 6 p.m. CT.
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.