The Nebraska women visited College Park, Maryland, to play the No. 17-ranked Terrapins on Sunday afternoon, and unfortunately for the Huskers, it only took about 10 minutes to find out how the game was going to go.
Even without one of its top players in point guard Ashley Owusu, who’s scoring 14.3 points per game but sat Sunday with an injury, Maryland blitzed Nebraska from the tip. The Huskers struggled against the Terps’ rangy and quick-switching defense, committing six first-quarter turnovers that turned into 12 Maryland points. The hosts from the East Coast led Nebraska 26-11 after the opening stanza.
That set the stage for what ultimately was a poor outing from the Huskers, who fell 80-65 to end their four-game winning streak. Nebraska is now 17-5 overall and 6-5 against conference opponents. Maryland looked like one of the best teams in the Big Ten, which it is, while improving to 17-6, 9-3.
Up next for Nebraska on its three-game road stretch is a contest at No. 23 Ohio State (16-4, 8-3) on Thursday night. After that, the Huskers will travel to Champaign, Ill., for a meeting with the Big Ten-cellar-dwelling Fighting Illini (6-11, 1-5).
It wasn’t pretty for much of the game against Maryland. In the first half Nebraska had more turnovers, 12, then field-goal makes, six. The Terps scored 19 points off those 12 Husker mistakes and led 43-20 at halftime.
Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said her team was very tentative while playing against a long and athletic Maryland defense that switched 1-5. The Huskers ended the game with 19 turnovers, which turned into 26 Maryland points.
“They pulled us out of what we wanted to do to attack them, and because of that we only had 20 points at halftime,” Williams told Huskers Radio Network after the game. “A lot of that was because of turnovers, a lot of that was because of rushed shots.”
Nebraska outscored Maryland 21-18 in the third and 24-19 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to ever make a meaningful dent in the Terps’ lead. Two of the Huskers’ top-three scorers, Jaz Shelley and Sam Haiby, both had rough outings offensively, combining to go 1-of-16 from the field. Shelley went 0-of-10 from the field and missed all five of her attempts behind the arc.
“We did not handle Maryland and its pressure and the way they switched screens well at all,” Williams said. “Not only did we go 1-for-16 in those positions, but I just thought the pressure kept us from doing what we do—getting paint touches, post touches, post feeds. I thought we were so consumed with what was happening with the defense right in front of us that we weren’t able to see what we needed and get the presence in the paint that we really wanted and needed in this ball game.”
There were a couple silver linings to the game for the Huskers—the play of Ashley Scoggin and Alexis Markowski.
Scoggin scored a career-high 20 points and went 6-of-11 from 3-point range. Her six 3s were a career-high, as were her four steals on the defensive end. Scoggin’s shooting was the Nebraska offense for much of the game as the only other Husker to score in double figures was Isabelle Bourne with 11.
“I thought our kids kept fighting in the second half. I was really proud, particularly of Ashley Scoggin,” Williams said. “Not just the six made three-pointers obviously, she continued to stay aggressive offensively and we need her to do that and she sparked us there. But it’s the four steals. I just felt like she was more active and moving and fighting. She might find herself on a mismatch down there guarding Mimi Collins (a 6-foot-3 post) in the low block, and she just kept dancing around and fighting and worked for a deflected ball.
“We saw some of the same things out of Ruby (Porter) and Allison (Weidner) and some of our players who came in off the bench in the second half and really sparked us in that way.”
Porter scored five points with three rebounds and three assists while Weidner, a true freshman from Humphrey, Neb., had eight points and two boards. Weidner’s points were all scored in a row during a stretch near the end of the third to the early parts of the fourth.
Markowski, a true freshman from Lincoln Pius X High School, had a tough task in front of her guarding star Maryland sophomore Angel Reese. Markowski played Reese tough defensively and didn’t back down. Although Reese finished with a double-double of 15 points—she came in averaging 17.5—and 16 rebounds, it took her 14 shots to get to those 15 points.
Markowski, who has five Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors under her belt, finished with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting to go with a team-high 12 rebounds.
“Angel is a lot to handle, and I thought Lex was in there fighting and holding her own,” Williams said. “I sure wish we could have gotten a few more touches to Lex down inside offensively, but I thought she did fight on the other end and held Angel Reese well below her season average.”
Nebraska’s quest to beat the Terps continues. The Huskers are now 0-15 all-time against Maryland.