Jessica Shepard, Natalie Romeo and Rachel Theriot produced big nights, helping Nebraska outscore Rutgers 24-11 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 65-54 women’s basketball win on Saturday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Shepard, a 6-4 freshman forward from Fremont, Neb., put up a game-high 22 points while adding eight rebounds to help the Huskers complete a 2-0 week to improve to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten. It was Nebraska’s third consecutive conference victory.
Rutgers, which entered the game at No. 16 in the RPI, slipped to 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the conference, in game that was not attended by Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer, as she remained with her family to be with her ailing mother. Assistant Coach Timothy Eatman was RU’s acting head coach for the game.
For the week, Shepard averaged 25.5 points per game on 19-of-29 shooting from the floor and 13-for-18 shooting at the free throw line.
Romeo capped an equally impressive week with 19 points, including 13 in Nebraska’s explosive fourth quarter. The 5-7 shooting guard from Martinez, Calif., added five three-pointers, including three straight in the fourth period.
The first tied the game at 46. The second gave the Big Red their first lead of the game at 49-46 with 6:34 left. The third put the Huskers up 52-48 with 5:49 in the game. Romeo, who scored a career-high 32 points and hit a school-record eight threes in Wednesday’s win at Penn State, finished the week with 25.5 points per game and 13 three-pointers.
Senior point guard Rachel Theriot added her best Big Ten performance of the season with 17 points, eight assists and four rebounds. She scored six points, hit four free throws and dished out four assists in the fourth quarter to help seal Nebraska’s first-ever win over Rutgers. For the game, Theriot was 11-of-12 at the free throw line and 3-of-7 from the field.
Theriot was also instrumental in the Huskers committing just one second-half turnover against the suffocating Scarlet Knights’ defense. For the game, Nebraska finished with a season-low five turnovers, while forcing nine on the Scarlet Knights in a low-scoring but well-played game.
With Theriot leading the way, Nebraska’s bench outscored the Rutgers reserves, 22-4, while the Huskers outscored the Scarlet Knights 16-5 at the free throw line.
Kahleah Copper led four Scarlet Knight starters in double figures with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Ariel Butts added a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Rachel Hollivay and Tyler Scaife each pitched in 11 points.
Rutgers outrebounded Nebraska by a whopping 46-30 margin, including a 16-4 edge on the offensive glass. However, the Scarlet Knights led 15-6 (+9) on the glass at the end of the first quarter. The rest of the game, Nebraska was minus-seven on the glass, but plus-five in turnovers.
While the Scarlet Knights attempted 14 more shots than Nebraska from the field, they hit just two more field goals. Rutgers went 24-of-64 (.375) from the floor, including a dismal 1-for-11 (.091) from three-point range. RU was also 5-of-9 (.556) at the line.
Nebraska hit 44 percent (22-50) of its shots, including 5-of-13 threes (.385), while knocking down 16-of-25 (.640) free throws.
Nebraska trailed Rutgers 24-22 at the half after trailing 10-2 to open the game. Shepard led the Big Red with 11 points and four rebounds in the half, while Romeo added six points on a pair of threes. Nebraska hit 39.1 percent (9-23) of its shots from the field in the half, including 2-of-8 threes, while connecting on just 2-of-6 free throws.
Rutgers took the lead to halftime thanks to a 26-14 rebounding edge, including 11-1 on the offtensive boards. However, Rutgers hit just 32.4 percent (11-34) of its shots from the floor in the half, including 0-for-7 from three-point range. The Scarlet Knights hit 2-of-4 free throws. Both teams committed four turnovers in the half.
Butts led Rutgers with six points and 10 first-half rebounds, including five on the offensive end, while Scaife added six points despite 3-of-10 shooting.
In a the third quarter the game was tied at 26, 28, 30 and 32, but the Huskers never took a lead, and Rutgers carried a 43-41 edge to the fourth quarter.
Nebraska tied the game at 43 just 13 seconds into the final quarter on a Shepard basket off an assist from Theriot. Copper answered for Rutgers with its only three of the game and first triple for the Scarlet Knights in two all-time games against the Huskers.
Romeo answered 11 seconds later to tie the game at 46, but a rare double-foul was called on Copper and Husker sophomore Jasmine Cincore with 6:47 left. It was Copper’s fourth foul and came after Nebraska had gained possession of a Butts missed shot attempt.
Copper and Cincore both exited the game, and 13 seconds later, Romeo buried her fourth three of the game to give the Huskers their first lead. After a Briyona Canty jumper narrowed the margin to 49-48 with 6:10 left, Romeo drained another three with 5:49 remaining to give the Big Red their first two-possession lead.
Butts scored before Theriot hit Romeo for a layup to put NU back up 54-50. Copper returned to hit 1-of-2 free throws before Nebraska freshman Rachel Blackburn made a huge play with an offensive rebound and putback after a Romeo missed layup to give NU a 56-51 edge with 2:29 left.
Theriot then hit the game’s toughest shot with her leaner underneath Hollivay at the free throw line with time winding down on the shot clock to give NU a 58-51 lead with 1:35 left.
A Romeo layup and four straight free throws from Theriot pushed Nebraska’s margin to 64-54, before Blackburn added the game’s final point at the line with one second left.
The Huskers return to Big Ten road action on Wednesday by traveling to West Lafayette, Ind., to take on Purdue. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Boilermakers is set for 6 p.m. (CT) at Mackey Arena.