They rallied late, again, but a lethargic first quarter was too much to overcome for the Huskers (7-9, 2-3 Big Ten), who dropped their third straight game Sunday with a 62-56 loss to Rutgers (13-3, 5-0 Big Ten).
Freshman wing Leigha Brown notched her fourth double-figure scoring performance in her last five games with a game-high 18 points to pair with a career-high six boards. Sophomore wing Taylor Kissinger added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting (3-of-5 from deep). That was it in terms of reliable offensive production. Freshman forward Kayla Mershon (seven points) was the only other Husker with more than five points.
Nebraska’s starting five, excluding Kissinger, contributed 11 total points (3-for-16 shooting) and 13 turnovers.
Rutgers built an eight-point lead after 10 minutes of play thanks to 50 percent shooting from the floor early, five made 3s and six Nebraska turnovers. That lead stretched all the way up to 13 points in the second quarter before an 8-3 run from the Huskers in the final two minutes brought it back to eight.
Nebraska got nothing back in the third but opened the fourth with a 10-2 run to tie things at 52-all with 6:38 to play. During that 3:22 stretch, Kissinger had eight of her 11 points.
Nebraska didn’t hit another shot from the field until Brown sunk a triple with five seconds remaining in a decided game. Still, Rutgers only hit three shots from the field itself in the entire third quarter. Nebraska just couldn’t find traction on offense and was forced to play the foul game in the waning moments. Rutgers hit 9-of-12 from the charity stripe. The Huskers missed almost as many as Rutgers took (17-for-28).
For the game, Nebraska hit just 36 percent from the field against a Rutgers team that entered the day leading the Big Ten in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. The 3-point shooting was a positive sign (7-for-12) but head coach Amy Williams and her bunch will certainly be lamenting over their own mental errors.
The missed free throws (six of the last eight attempts were missed, three of which came in the fourth quarter) will hurt. So will the 19 turnovers Nebraska committed. Because as a team, the Huskers out-rebounded the Scarlet Knights 38-28 and held them to 41 percent shooting.
Nebraska won the battle of the boards with Rutgers, 38-28, but committed 19 turnovers compared to just 14 for the Scarlet Knights.
The Huskers head back out on the road Thursday to face Illinois (9-7, 1-4 Big Ten). Tip is set for 7 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.