Nebraska women’s basketball lost to No. 5 Iowa 92-73 on Saturday after the Hawkeyes pulled away in the second half.
This marked the first time this season that the Huskers have lost back-to-back games. They drop to 13-7 overall and 5-4 in Big Ten play.
Iowa Starts Strong, But Huskers Battle in Opening Half
Nebraska’s start against Iowa was one that had head coach Amy Williams calling timeout less than two minutes into the contest.
The Hawkeyes opened on a 9-0 run, taking advantage of the visiting team’s errors. The Huskers turned it over on back-to-back possessions, then lost track of superstar guard Caitlin Clark defensively on back-to-back possessions. She missed the first and made the second, and after an ill-advised Husker three, Clark assisted on a layup to force the Nebraska timeout.
“The message was that we’ve got to commit to what our gameplan was,” Williams said postgame. “I thought [we were] maybe just a little shell-shocked, you know, coming out here, did not have the focus right off the bat that we needed to get off to the great start and find the people we needed to find in transition.”
Things didn’t get better right away out of the timeout, with Iowa extending its lead to 9-0, but Nebraska fought back. Two Jaz Shelley threes helped the team go on an 11-3 run, as Iowa went over five minutes without a made field goal. Even after the Hawkeyes made a jumper right before the buzzer, they only led by three.
All 10 lead changes occurred in the second quarter as Nebraska kept on pushing. Clark only made two of her first nine shots, and the Husker defense frustrated Iowa. A three from Callin Hake, who scored seven first-half points, put her team up four on the road with two minutes until the break.
“I thought we were rotating, kind of making multiple effort plays to get our hands on balls and create some turnovers and some things,” Williams said. “But also finishing the defensive possessions with box outs and rebounds.”
A 9-0 Iowa run put the home team back on top heading into the locker room, but Nebraska found some real success, especially in outrebounding the Hawkeyes 23-16 through two quarters.
Caitlin Clark Dominates
Clark’s passing impacted the game even as she didn’t shoot it well early, but then the shots started falling as well.
She capped off Iowa’s run to end the opening half with a three seconds before the buzzer sounded. Then, she scored 28 points in the second half, only missing three of her 12 attempts.
This included her hitting back-to-back threes twice in the third quarter, the last one making it a 17-point game. In the fourth quarter, she gathered an errant pass near midcourt with seconds left on the shot clock, but dribbled up to sink a long three anyways.
Clark has scored at least 30 points in every game she’s played against Nebraska in her career, and this day’s 38-point performance continued that trend.
“There’s always people that you just enjoy playing a little more,” she said postgame.
Plenty of other Iowa players contributed in helping extend the lead, but Clark was by far the biggest force. Kate Martin finished with 16 points, while Sydney Affolter scored 12.
Looking Forward For the Huskers
Nebraska’s now in a three-way tie for fifth in the Big Ten standings, a half-game behind Penn State. The Nittany Lions would be alone at fourth if they win at home against Maryland tomorrow, but if the Terrapins win, it’ll become a five-way tie for third.
The goal for the Huskers will be finishing as high as possible within that logjam. That starts with a home game against Purdue (9-10 overall, 2-6 Big Ten) on Wednesday.
While Nebraska will be trying to snap its short losing streak, there are positives to take into that one. Alexis Markowski had yet another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Shelley put up 19 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Shelley’s health will be a storyline to watch. She rolled her ankle late in the loss, being helped off the court and limping slightly in postgame handshake lines. Williams said she’ll know more about her status in the coming days, and the Huskers will need her and the rest of the roster to be as close to full strength as possible.
“The first thing I take away is hopefully, we’re all going to be healthy enough to play against Purdue,” Williams said.
“And so that’s a little concerning right now.”