Against Even Match, Nebraska Suffers a Near-Record Loss
A 110-73 loss at Minnesota on Thursday night will leave a mark in the Nebraska history books and a stain on the Huskers’ NCAA tournament résumé that may be hard to remove.
The Gophers tied the total for the most points ever scored against NU — a record previously set by Long Beach State more than 30 years ago, before women’s basketball even had an NCAA tournament. The 110 points allowed might have been a first in coach Connie Yori’s career, as well.
“I’m pretty certain in the 26 years I’ve been a head coach I’ve never given up 110 points,” Yori said on her postgame radio show on the Husker Sports Network. “So obviously we need to do a better job on (defense).”
Statistically speaking, this may be Nebraska’s poorest defense in a decade, but the Huskers (16-8 overall, 7-6 in the Big Ten) were uniquely vulnerable against the high-scoring Gophers (17-7 and 9-4). Minnesota shot 55 percent and 61.8 percent inside the arc. Guard Rachel Banham — who scored an NCAA-record 60 points Sunday — scored 32 against Nebraska, but four other Gophers were in double figures, as well. Minnesota crushed the Huskers on the boards 57-35. That included 19 offensive rebounds.
“We broke down too much,” Yori said. “We didn’t handle our ball screen defense, particularly early … we didn’t rotate. Our rotation was poor, and it cost us a lot of baskets. They get by our first set of defenders, and when we sent another defender to help, we didn’t get (there).”
For one quarter, Nebraska was able to keep up. Leading 28-27 after 10 minutes, the Huskers scored a season-low five points in the second quarter, leading to a 51-33 halftime deficit. Nebraska missed 14 shots in that quarter. For the game, NU shot just 36 percent from the floor.
Point guard Rachel Theriot had 13 assists, but missed 13 shots, too. Jessica Shepard led NU with 22 points and eight rebounds; guard Natalie Romeo pitched in 15 points.
“Minnesota makes a lot of shots, and I’m sure those kids spend a lot of time in the gym,” Yori said. “We’ve got to see kids spend more time in the gym.”
Romeo is a notorious gym rat and one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters. She’s making 42 percent of those and 45 percent of all her shots. But NU’s other top four guards — Theriot, Kyndal Clark, Maddie Simon and Jasmine Cincore — are collectively combining to shoot 37 percent from the floor.
Having played eight of its last 12 games on the road, Nebraska now heads home for a Sunday tilt with No. 17 Michigan State, which was upset Thursday night by Penn State.