Huskers fall in tight battle with Scarlet Knights

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Piscataway, N.J. - Nebraska tied its season high with 12 three-pointers but Rutgers outscored the Huskers 36-20 on points in the paint, as the Scarlet Knights notched a hard-fought 69-65 women's basketball win over the Big Red at The RAC on Sunday afternoon.

Sophomore Ashtyn Veerbeek matched her season high with 14 points by knocking down a career-high four three-pointers to lead the Huskers, who slipped to 13-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten. The 6-2 forward from Sioux Center, Iowa added five rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Senior guard Hannah Whitish was the only other Husker to manage double figures with 10 points, including a trio of threes, while adding four rebounds, four assists and a steal, while Leigha Brown, Nicea Eliely and freshman Isabelle Bourne added nine points apiece, while Sam Haiby and freshman Trinity Brady each pitched in seven points.

Rutgers improved to 14-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten by winning the turnover battle, 17-6, and converting NU's turnovers into 21 points. The Scarlet Knights were also more efficient overall on the offensive end, hitting 45.2 percent (28-62) of their shots from the field including 4-of-11 threes (.409).

While Nebraska shot a sizzling 50 percent (12-24) from beyond the arc, the Huskers were just 11-for-34 from two-point range on the day. Nebraska finished at a season-low 39.7 percent (23-58) from the floor. Rutgers hit 24-of-51 two-point attempts and its 36-20 edge on points in the paint came despite Nebraska out-rebounding Rutgers 41-35 and outscoring the Scarlet Knights 15-10 in second-chance points.

Senior point guard Khadaizha Sanders led Rutgers with a game-high 17 points while the Big Ten's leading scorer, Arella Guirantes, added 16 points. Tekia Mack contributed 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Jordan Wallace put four Scarlet Knights in double figures with 10 points.

Nebraska got off to a strong start, jumping to an 11-2 lead on the strength of two three-pointers from Veerbeek and another three from Whitish. But the Scarlet Knights answered with an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 13-11 with 4:32 left in the quarter. Rutgers took its biggest lead of the quarter at 18-15, before Brady buried the Huskers' fourth three of the quarter to send the two teams to halftime tied at 18. Brady's seven points and two three-pointers were both career highs.

The Big Red again set the tone at the start of the second quarter, outscoring Rutgers 8-2 over the first five minutes to carry a 26-20 lead, as Haiby and Eliely hit threes before Brady added her second triple to put NU up 29-23 with 3:45 left in the half.

However, Rutgers outscored Nebraska 12-3 over the final 3:45 to take a 35-32 lead into the locker room.

Nebraska cut RU's margin to 42-40 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, before the Scarlet Knights outscored NU 11-2 to close the period and take a 53-42 lead to the fourth. That lead ballooned to 15 at 59-44 after a Wallace layup with just over six minutes left before Nebraska erupted again.

Back-to-back threes by Brown and Veerbeek in a 25-second span opened a 10-0 Nebraska run that slashed the Rutgers' edge to 59-55 with 3:07 left. However, five straight points from Sanders, including a three, and a pair of free throws by Guirantes pushed the margin back to 66-55 with 1:03 left.

Nebraska still refused to quit, outscoring the Scarlet Knights 10-3 in the final minute, including a three from Whitish with 13 seconds left and NU's final bucket of the game from Bourne with 4.1 left to make the final margin. Bourne added a team-high eight rebounds in a strong effort off the bench. Rutgers went just 4-for-10 from the free throw line in the closing minute.

The Huskers return to Lincoln for the start of spring semester classes on Monday before returning to Big Ten road action at No. 17 Maryland on Thursday in College Park. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (CT) at the Xfinity Center with live television coverage on BTN.