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Husker Women lose in Final Minute at Arkansas

Husker Women lose in Final Minute at Arkansas
Courtesy/NU Media Relations

Fayetteville, Ark. – Nebraska erased a nine-point deficit with 4:32 left to take an 80-79 lead with 1:04 left in the game, but Arkansas made enough plays in the closing minute to hold on for 84-80 women’s basketball win at Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday night.

Trailing 77-68 with 4:32 left, erupted on a 12-2 surge with seven points from freshman Sam Haiby during a 1:43 span. Her final point of her team-high 16 points came on the first of two free throws to put the Big Red up 80-79 win 1:04 left.

But before the second free throw, the scoreboard inside the arena and reset, putting the score to 1-0 Nebraska with 10:00 on the clock, while resetting all the team fouls and the timeouts for both teams. The scoreboard malfunction put more than three minutes between Haiby’s first and second free throw. Haiby missed the second shot.

Twenty seconds later, Chelsea Dungee scored to put Arkansas back up 81-80. She added a free throw with 25 seconds left to extend Arkansas margin to 82-80. Dungee scored 20 of her game-high 23 points in the second half to lead a group of five Arkansas starters that finished in double figures and scored all 53 points for the Razorbacks in the final 20 minutes.

Trailing by two, Nebraska got a good look at the rim from Haiby, but the challenged shot fell off the rim. The Huskers fouled and Kiara Williams, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds made both free throws to close the scoring.

Nebraska finished non-conference play with a 5-6 record, while Arkansas improved to 8-3 including 5-1 at home with its only loss coming 85-83 to a ranked Arizona State team.

In addition to the 16 points from Haiby, Nebraska got 14 points and five rebounds from freshman Ashtyn Veerbeek off the bench. Leigha Brown added nine points, while Kayla Mershon pitched in six points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals while being involved in several big plays to swing momentum. Overall, Nebraska’s bench outscored the Arkansas bench 45-11.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome foul trouble on Kate Cain that limited her to just four points, five rebounds and three blocks before fouling out in just 17 minutes. Maddie Simon managed four points and six boards, while Nicea Eliely contributed four points and three boards.

Taylor Kissinger led the Husker starters with 12 points, while Hannah Whitish pitched in 11 points including five points in the final 5:16.

As a team, Nebraska hit 45.9 percent (28-61) of its shots from the field, including 9-of-21 three-pointers (.429), but the Big Red went just 2-for-8 from long range in the second half. The Huskers also hit 15-of-23 free throws in the game (.652), while Arkansas knocked down 17-of-23 (.739).

Nebraska won the battle of the boards, 41-37, but Arkansas won the turnover battle 15-10 and scored 25 points off Nebraska’s turnovers, while the Huskers managed just 10 of the Razorbacks’ 10 miscues.

Arkansas hit 40.3 percent (27-67) of its shots, including 13-of-37 threes (.351). In the second half, the Razorbacks knocked down 9-of-18 threes.

After an up-and-down first half for both teams, Nebraska took a 36-31 lead to the locker room after a running three-pointer from 40 feet as time expired heading to the half. That huge shot by by Brown capped a 5-0 NU run in the final 20 seconds, and was sparked by a steal from Kayla Mershon 30 feet away from the basket, where she dove to the floor and found Brown on the run to set up the three.

Brown scored all five of her first-half points in the final 1:12, while fellow freshman Sam Haiby added a layup with 20 seconds left to give NU a 33-31 lead.

Haiby contributed seven points off the bench in the first half, while Kissinger contributed a team-high eight first-half points, including a pair of threes.

In the half, Nebraska hit 43.8 percent (14-32) of its shots from the field, including 53.8 percent (7-13) of its three-pointers. The Huskers were just 1-of-2 at the free throw line in the half. NU controlled the first-half glass, 22-18, but lost the turnover battle, 8-4.

Nebraska held Arkansas to just 33.3 percent (11-33) first-half shooting, including just 4-of-19 (.211) from three-point range, but the Razorbacks went 5-for-8 at the free throw line in the opening half. Malica Monk scored eight first-half points to lead the Hogs, while Jailyn Mason pitched in six points in the opening 20 minutes.

The Huskers got off to a great start on the road, building a 15-2 lead in the opening 6:30 after a putback from Kissinger with 3:30 left in the first quarter. But Nebraska went scoreless the final 3:30, and Arkansas closed the quarter on an 8-0 run to cut the Husker lead to 15-10 at the quarter.

NU maintained a lead through the first five minutes of the second quarter before Arkansas took its first lead on a layup by Monk with 3:28 left in the half to give the Razorbacks 27-26.

Husker senior Maddie Simon then answered with a three, before Monk tied the score at 31 on a layup with 38 seconds left.

Nebraska will enjoy its longest break from competition during the season over the next nine days before returning to Pinnacle Bank Arena to open Big Ten Conference play against Michigan on Friday, Dec. 28. Tip-off between the Huskers and Wolverines is set for 6 p.m. (CT)

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