LINCOLN, Neb. Kate Cain produced her first double-double of the season with 16 points and a season-high 12 rebounds to lead five Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska battled to a 78-69 women's basketball win over Iowa at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Cain, a junior center from Middletown, N.Y., hit 6-of-11 shots from the field and helped the Huskers seal the win in their Big Ten Conference opener by hitting four straight free throws in the fourth quarter as Nebraska improved to 11-1 on the season. Iowa slipped to 9-3 on the season and 0-1 in the Big Ten.
Senior Nicea Eliely added a strong game with 12 points, four rebounds and a game-high five assists without a turnover to help the Huskers. Fellow senior Hannah Whitish contributed 11 points, three rebounds and three assists without a turnover, as Nebraska won the turnover battle 18-13 while outscoring the Hawkeyes 24-9 off those turnovers.
Sophomores Sam Haiby and Leigha Brown each pitched in 10 points for the Big Red, while freshman Isabelle Bourne added a huge lift off the bench with career highs of eight points and seven assists. All of Bourne's eight points came in a 1:20 span late in the second quarter for the Huskers, as she helped Nebraska take its biggest lead of the first half at 35-27. Bourne's eight points capped a stretch of 14 consecutive points by the NU bench, which started with a three by senior point guard Kristian Hudson to give Nebraska a 27-25 lead, before the first three-pointer of freshman Trinity Brady's career pushed Nebraska's edge to 30-27 with 4:33 left.
Nebraska maintained a lead the rest of the way. Iowa narrowed the margin to 38-34 at halftime, before trimming it to 42-41 after a three-pointer from Kathleen Doyle with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Iowa's senior point guard finished with a game-high 19 points, including 17 in the second half, but went just 4-for-15 from the field.
The Huskers pushed the lead to 57-52 at the end of three quarters and Iowa never got closer, as the Huskers built a 10-point lead on two occasions in the final period.
Monika Czinano added a double-double for Iowa with 16 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, while McKenna Warnock pitched in a career-high 14 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska's defense was stellar throughout, holding the nation's No. 11 field goal percentage team to just 36.8 percent (21-57) shooting from the field. The Hawkeyes hit just 6-of-20 threes despite Warnock going a career-best 3-for-3 in the contest off the bench for Iowa. The Hawkeyes hit just 3-of-15 field goals in the fourth period, with all three coming from Czinano, but hung around by hitting 11 free throws in the fourth quarter.
The Huskers hit 43.5 percent (27-62) of their field goals, including 7-of-19 threes (.368), while knocking down 17-of-24 free throws (.708), including 11-for-16 in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska improved to 15-14 all-time in the series with Iowa and the two teams will meet again at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Feb. 6.
Nebraska makes its first Big Ten Conference road trip on New Year's Eve by traveling to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. The Huskers and Spartans are scheduled to tip-off at noon (CT) and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network and on radio by the Leafield IMG College Husker Sports Network.