Lincoln - Nebraska rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to cut the lead to one with multiple shots to win, but the Huskers were unable to complete the comeback in a 71-70 women's basketball loss to Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
Nebraska (14-8, 6-5 Big Ten) trailed 62-49 after the opening possession of the fourth quarter before cutting the margin to 69-68 with 2:15 left on a short jumper by Darian White. Rutgers answered with a layup by Mya Petticord to push the margin back to three, before the Huskers got a bucket from Alexis Markowski with 49 seconds left to cut the Rutgers lead to 71-70.
In the closing minute, Nebraska got a crucial stop to set up a running one-hander from the left side of the paint by White. Her shot missed and Nebraska could not corral the offensive rebounds. Rutgers called timeout to advance with nine seconds left.
Kendall Coley then made a huge defensive play to force a turnover on the inbounds play. Nebraska called timeout to advance the ball to the frontcourt, and Rutgers miscommunicated on a pass to Jaz Shelley, leaving her wide open for a three-pointer from the right wing in front of the NU bench. The shot was no good, and Nebraska was forced to foul, sending Destiny Adams to the free throw line with 3.4 seconds left.
Adams, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists, missed both free throws, and the rebound was knocked out by Rutgers with 1.8 left. Shelley sent a long pass to the front court from the baseline that was knocked out of bounds by Rutgers with 0.6 on the clock.
Shelley, who finished with 11 points, five assists and four steals, then tossed a sideline throw-in from the Nebraska bench toward the rim. Markowski came free and had a clean look going toward the rim from the left side but her shot was no good at the buzzer. Markowski finished with 13 points and five rebounds.
Although Shelley and Markowski were Nebraska's leading scorers, the duo combined to go just 7-of-27 from the field. As a team, the Huskers hit just 23-of-68 shots (.338), including just 7-of-26 threes (.269) against a Rutgers team that earned its first Big Ten Conference win to improve to 7-17 overall and 1-10 in the conference.
Nebraska's starters combined for just 12-of-48 shooting (.250), while the Husker reserves hit 11-of-20 shots (.550) to combine for 30 points. Freshman forward Jessica Petrie led the NU bench with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Kendall Moriarty and Logan Nissley each contributed eight points. Nissley and Moriarty combined for eight of NU's first 10 points in the fourth quarter to help trim the Rutgers lead from 62-49 to 64-59 with 7:15 left in the game.
However, Rutgers' three reserves were even better, combining for 34 points on 12-of-15 shooting (.800), including 4-of-6 three-pointers. Kassondra Brown did the most damage for the Scarlet Knights with a game-high 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in just 23 minutes off the bench. She hit 7-of-9 shots from the field, including all five of her first-half attempts.
Erica Lafayette added eight points on 3-of-3 shooting, including a pair of big three-pointers in the third quarter to help Rutgers seize control, outscoring Nebraska 22-11 in the period to take a 60-49 lead to the final period.
Mya Petticord, who missed the last game for the Scarlet Knights with an injury, hit 2-of-3 shots in the game and her only free throw attempt to finish with five points, including the game-winner on her layup with 1:15 left.
For the game, Rutgers hit a blistering 59.6 percent (28-47) of its shots, including 7-of-15 threes (.467), while going 8-for-12 at the free throw line. The Scarlet Knights also won the rebounding battle, 36-30, against the Big Ten's best rebounding team.
However, Nebraska's rebounding woes were primarily attributed to Rutgers' hot shooting and turnovers by the Scarlet Knights. The Huskers forced 23 turnovers and turned those mistakes into 25 points. Rutgers missed just 19 shots on the afternoon, while Nebraska missed 45, as the Huskers attempted 21 more field goals and eight more free throws than the Scarlet Knights.
Nebraska grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and turned them into 15 second-chance points, while Rutgers grabbed just four offensive boards.
The Huskers will try to rebound on the road when they head to Michigan to battle the Wolverines on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Tip-off at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor is set for 6 p.m. (CT) with a live video stream for B1G+ subscribers. Free live audio will be available at Huskers.com.