Husker Women hold off Spartans

Husker Women hold off Spartans
Courtesy/NU Media Relations
February 2nd, 2023 |

Lincoln Isabelle Bourne scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Alexis Markowski and Sam Haiby both added double-doubles to lead the Nebraska women’s basketball team to a 71-67 victory over Michigan State on Thursday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 13-9 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten, while Michigan State slipped to 11-11 overall and 3-8 in the conference.

Bourne, a 6-2 senior from Canberra, Australia, led a strong first-half effort by Nebraska, as the Huskers doubled the score on the Spartans, 40-20, late in the half. NU took a 40-22 lead to the halftime locker room, as Bourne powered the Huskers with 10 first-half points on 5-of-5 shooting. She added four rebounds and a pair of blocks. Bourne, who finished 8-for-10 from the field, was also big in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in the final 10 minutes to help the Huskers secure the win.

Haiby added a strong first-half of her own with six points on 3-of-4 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists and two steals in the first 20 minutes. The graduate guard from Moorhead, Minn., finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season, while also collecting four steals.

Markowski pitched in seven rebounds to go with two points in the first half, then played a huge role alongside Bourne and Haiby down the stretch to secure the win. The 6-3 Markowski had nine points and six boards after halftime, with all six rebounds and five of her points coming in the fourth quarter. Markowski finished the game with 11 points and 13 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season.

Jaz Shelley, who finished with eight points, five rebounds and six assists, scored six points on a pair of three-pointers while adding four assists, three boards and a block in the first half, while Maddie Krull and Callin Hake each contributed five points in the opening 20 minutes. Hake finished with eight points on the night to lead Nebraska off the bench.

The Huskers hit 51.6 percent (16-31) of its first-half shots, including 6-of-16 three-pointers (.375). Nebraska’s six three-pointers accounted for the difference on the scoreboard, as the Big Red held the Spartans to 0-for-6 three-point shooting in the first 20 minutes. NU held MSU to 8-of-24 first-half shooting overall, but the Spartans outscored the Huskers 6-2 at the free throw line.

Nebraska won the first-half rebounding battle 20-13, while also winning the turnover fight, 11-9, against a Spartan squad that entered the game with better than a plus-six turnover margin on the season. Moira Joiner led Michigan State with eight first-half points, while Taiyier Parks pitched in seven points. No other Spartan scored more than two points in the opening half.

The Huskers pushed their lead to 21 points at 49-28 with 3:10 left in the third quarter and maintained a 20-point lead after a pair of Annika Stewart free throws with just over two minutes left in the period. Then Michigan State found a spark. Parks and Tory Ozment scored on back-to-back possessions, before DeeDee Hagemann added a bucket of her own. Matilda Ekh then closed the third quarter with MSU’s first three-pointer of the game to cut Nebraska’s lead to 53-40.

Bourne steadied the Huskers with their first six points of the fourth quarter on a three-pointer and a traditional three-point play to push NU’s margin briefly back to 59-44, before Ekh responded with back-to-back threes in a 45-second span. Ekh scored 13 of her 15 points for the Spartans in the second half.

Parks then cut the lead to single digits for the first time since early in the second quarter with her basket with 6:18 remaining to make it 61-52. Before the Spartan 12-0 run was over, Nebraska’s lead shrunk to 61-59 with 3:15 left. Parks finished with 11 points and six rebounds before fouling out late in the game.

Michigan State held Nebraska without a field goal for the final seven minutes, but the Huskers went just 0-for-6 from the floor. The Big Red made 10-of-15 free throws during the same span, as the Spartans tried to steal a win at the line.

Hagemann, who cut Nebraska’s lead to one point at 68-67 on three free throws with 11 seconds left, finished with 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals to lead the Spartans, including 10 points and four assists in the fourth quarter. But a free throw by Haiby and a pair by Markowski with three seconds left sealed the Husker win.

Nebraska found victory despite committing a season-high 26 turnovers, including 17 in the second half. The Huskers offset their turnover woes by out-rebounding the Spartans, 45-29 on the night, including 17 offensive rebounds.

The Huskers finished 23-of-54 (.426) from the field, but went just 7-for-23 from the field in the second half. Nebraska knocked down 8-of-24 three-pointers, but went just 2-for-8 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes. However, Nebraska also outscored Michigan State, 17-15, at the free throw line after the Spartans committed an opponent season-high 25 fouls.

Nebraska held Michigan State to just 4-of-19 three-point shooting, but the Spartans hit all four threes in the final 10:15. MSU won the final turnover battle, 26-19, outscoring the Huskers 26-13 in points off turnovers.

The Huskers return to Big Ten road action on Monday when they travel to Evanston, Ill., to face Northwestern. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Wildcats is set for 6 p.m.


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