Lincoln, Neb. – It was a game that was played like dead week feels. Oral Roberts was a midterm exam and Nebraska was the student in the Huskers’ 77-67 win. Nebraska teetered on the edge of dropping this game as any student toes the line between a B- and a C+ in mid-November, but a strong final push got Nebraska firmly in B range and out with the win.
Early on, the teams traded baskets possession after possession. The first media timeout didn’t come until nearly seven minutes had passed and Nebraska led 12-10. The story, however, was Oral Roberts’ Keni Jo Lippe, who scored eight of ORU’s first 10 points.
After one quarter, Nebraska trailed 17-16 in the equivalent of feeling out the teacher’s examination style at the first midterm.
They were ready for the next one.
After a handful more lead changes, Nebraska dug in on the defensive end. After Lippe tied the game at 23 on a dazzling finish, Nebraska went on a 13-2 run thanks to steals by sophomore Sam Haiby and seniors Kristian Hudson. Two offensive rebounds, one each by freshman Isabelle Bourne and sophomore Ashtyn Veerbeek, led to four of Nebraska’s 11 second-chance points.
The Huskers would go into halftime leading 40-30 after relying on junior center Kate Cain and senior guard Hannah Whitish for points. Cain was a perfect 5-5 shooting for 11 points while Whitish added eight of her own.
Nebraska coasted through the third quarter, not allowing ORU within seven points. After Cain and Whitish handled the scoring in the first half, Haiby and sophomore Leigha Brown picked up the slack in the second half, entirely dissimilar to any academic group project.
Brown had a pair of and-one layups that she converted en route to eight points in the quarter to raise her total to 13. Haiby one-upped her classmate, scoring nine points in the third period. Altogether, the tandem accounted for 17 of Nebraska’s 23 points in the quarter.
They needed every point as the defense was lackluster, allowing 20 points in those 10 minutes.The final quarter was a formality, but it allowed Haiby to tie her second-best career scoring mark with 20 points. Her first time reaching that mark was in November of 2018 in a home loss to Washington State. Haiby posted seven in the fourth quarter against Oral Roberts and became the second Husker to connect on a three-point try on the afternoon.
Brown and Cain were the other two Huskers to score in double-figures. Brown finished with 15 points, accompanied by seven rebounds, and Cain also recorded 15 points while leading Nebraska with eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Lippe led all scorers with 21 points, shooting 8-17 from the floor, including 3-8 from long range. Teammates Riley Torrey, Sarah Garvie and Katie Kirkhart joined her in double figures, scoring 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively. That trio made all nine of ORU’s three-point attempts.
As the Golden Eagles’ shooting kept them in the game, it inhibited Nebraska from pulling away. The Huskers shot only 3-19 from three-point range with only Whitish and Haiby converting attempts. Plenty of looks went in and out, like filling in “A” instead of “B” on a Scantron. That close to a bigger, more impressive win, yet that far.
Ultimately, Nebraska won and moved to 9-1 this season despite not playing its best. Students know the feeling of relying on their memory instead of their work to study all too well, and that’s what Nebraska looked like. Luckily, Nebraska’s tests are binary, and this result favored the Huskers, boosting them from and 88 percent win rate to an even 90, no rounding needed.
However, the easy quizzes are beginning to run out as Nebraska has only one non-conference game remaining. The team will face Manhattan at home on Sunday, Dec. 22, before opening conference play at home against Iowa the next weekend.
Right now, Nebraska’s grade is in a healthy spot, but the right habits are not being utilized or formed. It’s not too late for the Huskers to find better habits, but the margin for error shrinks each day. As the academic semester ends, the basketball season begins anew.