The No. 23 Nebraska women's basketball team ran into red-hot shooting from Michigan State to open the game and was unable to recover in a 73-53 loss in the Spartans' regular-season home finale at the Breslin Center.
With the loss, Nebraska slipped to 20-7 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten, while Michigan State improved to 18-10 overall and 10-5 in the conference.
Jordan Hooper led the Huskers with 15 points and four rebounds, while Kaitlyn Burke added 13 points as the only players in double figures for NU. Rebecca Woodberry added seven points off the bench for the Huskers.
Klarissa Bell led Michigan State with a career-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 accuracy from three-point range. Taylor Alton added 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Bell and Alton combined for 37 points after entering the game combining to average 10 points per contest.
Porsche Poole gave the Spartans three players in double figures with 13 points, while Becca Mills and Lykendra Johnson each added seven points.
Nebraska hit just 17-of-54 shots (31.5 percent) from the field, including 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from three-point range. NU did hit 14-of-20 free throws and outrebounded MSU, 34-33. The Huskers lost the turnover battle, 17-14, but outworked the Spartans 15-10 on the offensive glass.
Michigan State finished at 51.8 percent (29-56) from the field, including 50 percent (9-18) from long range. MSU was 6-of-10 at the line.
The Huskers made a game of it midway through the second half after trailing by 23 points in the first half and by 23 against at 50-27 with 16:30 left in the game. Woodberry sparked an NU rally with back-to-back three-pointers, and the Huskers quickly cut the Spartan lead to 52-42 on a pair of Burke free throws with 11:46 left afte MSU Coach Suzy Merchant's technical foul.
After the free throws, Hooper got to the rim unguarded but missed a layup with 11:30 left that would have cut the MSU lead to eight. After a Spartan free throw, NU got a clean look at a three-pointer from Tear'a Laudermill that would have trimmed the MSU margin to nine, but the attempt hit back iron inside the cylinder and kicked out.
The Spartans answered with five quick points to rebuild the lead to 16, and Nebraska was unable to regain any momentum as the Spartans closed out a 71-49 win.
Michigan State bolted out of the gates in the first half, as the Spartans jumped to a 43-22 halftime lead. The Spartans hit 11-of-14 shots from the field to open the game, including 6-of-8 from three-point range. Alton and Bell did most of the damage for MSU, combining for 29 first-half points while hitting 12-of-17 shots, including 5-of-8 threes. Entering the game, Alton and Bell were averaging 10 points per game.
In the half, Michigan State finished 18-of-29 (.621) from the field, including 7-of-12 (.583) from long range. The Spartans were just 0-of-1 at the free throw line but won the turnover battle, 9-6.
Nebraska won the first-half rebounding battle, 19-15, against the Big Ten's top rebounding team, including 11 offensive boards. The Huskers scored 11 of their 22 first-half points on second chances. NU went just 9-of-31 (.290) from the field, including just 1-of-9 from three-point range. The Huskers were 3-of-6 at the line.
Hooper led the Huskers with eight points, including NU's first six points, as Nebraska trailed 7-6 before the Spartans erupted on a 21-2 run to take a 28-8 lead. Kaitlyn Burke added seven first-half points for the Huskers.
Nebraska returns to Lincoln for its final regular-season home game on Sunday, when the Huskers take on No. 8 Ohio State. Tip-off between the Huskers and Buckeyes is set for 3 p.m., with tickets available now at Huskers.com.
Nebraska will celebrate Senior Day for Huskers Kaitlyn Burke, Harleen Sidhu and Layne Reeves, who will be honored in pregame ceremonies for their contributions to the Husker women's basketball program. Fans are encouraged to arrive by 2:30 p.m.
A model of Nebraska's future Pinnacle Bank Arena will be on display in the Hendricks Training Complex lobby when the doors to the Devaney Center open at 1:30 p.m.
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations