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Nebraska women get set for Michigan after loss to No. 20 Maryland

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

The Nebraska women's basketball team returns to Big Ten home action for the first time in 10 days when the Huskers play host to Michigan on Sunday. Tip-off between the Huskers and Wolverines at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 4 p.m. with tickets on sale now at Huskers.com. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

On Thursday, Jan. 16, the Huskers traveled to No. 20 Maryland and absorbed an 87-69 loss. Nicea Eliely tied her career high with 19 points and Leigha Brown added 19 of her own off the bench to lead Nebraska.

With the setback, Nebraska slipped to 13-4 overall on the season and 3-3 in the Big Ten, while the No. 20 Terrapins improved to 13-4 and 4-2 in the conference.

Kaila Charles led Maryland with a game-high 23 points while tying for the team lead with seven rebounds. Charles added three blocks and three steals, as the Terrapins recorded 11 steals as a team and forced 20 Husker turnovers. The Terps turned those Husker mistakes into a 29-4 advantage in that decisive category in the game. Freshman Ashley Owusu added 16 points for the Terps, while senior Stephanie Jones contributed 14 points.

Senior Hannah Whitish put three Huskers in double figures with 10 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Nebraska's hot shooting from outside continued with 9-for-19 shooting as a team from three-point range. For the game, Nebraska hit 42.6 percent (23-54) of its shots from the field overall and 14-of-19 free throws. The Big Red also won the battle of the boards against the Big Ten's top rebounding team, 37-31.

But Maryland, which has struggled shooting the basketball recently, shot 51.5 percent (35-68) from the field for the game, despite going just 4-for-16 from three-point range. The Terps also hit 13-of-16 free throws.

The Huskers got off to a strong start by jumping to a 10-4 lead after Whitish's first three-pointer with 6:30 left in the period. Eliely's third basket of the quarter kept the Huskers in front 14-12 with just over three minutes left, but it only slowed an 18-4 Terp surge over a 3:26 stretch that gave Maryland a 24-14 lead with 1:25 left in the opening quarter.

Eliely buried a three-pointer late in the quarter to keep Nebraska within single digits at 26-17. The Terps took their biggest lead of the half at 32-19 early in the second quarter before back-to-back threes by Whitish cut the margin to seven at 32-25 with 6:36 left in the half and force a Terrapin timeout. The two teams traded scores the rest of the half, and Maryland took a 43-34 lead to the locker at the break.

Nebraska hit 44.8 percent (13-29) of its shots in the half, including 6-of-11 threes (.545), and hit both of its free throw attempts. Maryland shot a sizzling 54.5 percent (18-33) from the floor, including 2-of-7 (.286) from three while knocking down 5-of-7 free throws. Nebraska outworked Maryland on the boards, 18-14, but lost the first-half turnover battle 12-6. Maryland turned Nebraska's mistakes into 17 points.

Eliely led all scorers in the first half with 12 points, while Whitish pitched in nine points on three threes in the first 20 minutes. Diamond Miller, who finished with 13 points in the game, led Maryland with 11 in the half off the bench, while Charles contributed 10 points.

The Terrapins pushed the lead to 12 early in the third quarter before freshman forward Isabelle Bourne scored four quick points to spark the Huskers. Then Brown heated up, scoring 11 of NU's next 12 points to pull the Big Red back within six at 59-53 with 1:11 left in the period.

Nebraska trailed 61-55 at the end of three quarters and started the fourth with the ball. But Maryland scored five straight points to open the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 11. Nebraska briefly cut the lead back to single digits at 68-60 on another bucket by Bourne with 6:23 left before the Terps erupted on a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game up to that point at 77-62 on a Charles three-point play with 3:52 left. Nebraska could not get the lead back to single digits again.