Lincoln – Leigha Brown scored 12 of her season-high 25 points in the second quarter to help Nebraska roll to a 71-51 win over visiting Manhattan on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Brown, who tied a career high with four three-pointers including three in the second quarter, helped Nebraska close non-conference play with a 10-1 record. Brown pitched in five rebounds and four assists, while fellow sophomore Sam Haiby added 10 points and six assists. Junior center Kate Cain contributed 13 points and a season-high-tying eight rebounds to help Nebraska produce a commanding 47-32 edge on the boards against the Jaspers..
Nebraska led 21-19 after one quarter despite five three-pointers from Manhattan. Freshman Emily LaPointe led the Jaspers with 11 points in the opening period for Manhattan, which slipped to 3-7 on the season.
Haiby opened the second quarter with a basket, before Brown hit back-to-back threes and added a free throw to cap a 9-0 run and give Nebraska its first double-digit lead at 30-19 with 6:34 left in the half. Brown added another three and a jumper with two minutes left in the half to give the Big Red its biggest lead at 37-23.
Nebraska took a 37-25 lead to the locker room at the half, after hitting 51.7 percent (15-29) of its shots, including 5-of-11 (.455) of its three-pointers.
The Huskers started the second half strong with a 7-0 run to push their margin to 19 points at 44-25 less than four minutes into the third quarter, but Manhattan responded with three straight three-pointers, including LaPointe’s fourth triple of the game and two threes from Sydney Watkins to trim the margin back to 12 at 48-36. The Huskers still won the quarter and took a 50-37 lead to the final period.
Again, Nebraska opened the period with a run, using a 9-0 burst in the first 2:37 to take a 59-37 lead. The Huskers built their biggest margin of the day at 25 (67-42) on a three-pointer from senior forward Grace Mitchell with 3:48 left. Mitchell finished with five points.
Nebraska, which was without the services of sophomore starting forward Ashtyn Veerbeek who sat out with an ankle sprain suffered in the second half of a win over Oral Roberts (Dec. 14), got strong inside contributions from Kayla Mershon and Isabelle Bourne. Mershon had four points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in her first start of the season, while Bourne pitched in six points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Huskers also got significant contributions from freshman Trinity Brady, who made her first career regular-season appearance. Brady, who missed Nebraska’s first 10 games this season as part of the concussion protocol, had two points, four rebounds, an assist and a block in 16 minutes in her debut.
As a team, Nebraska hit 47.4 percent (27-57) of its shots from the field, including 6-of-20 threes (.300), while going 11-for-16 (.688) at the free throw line. The Huskers held Manhattan to 30.2 percent (19-63) from the field, including 9-of-29 (.310) from three-point range. The Jaspers went just 4-for-6 at the free throw line as Nebraska committed a season-low six personal fouls in the game. Manhattan did win the turnover battle, 14-12.
LaPointe finished with 17 points on the game to lead Manhattan, while Gabby Cajou pitched in 14 points, including nine in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska opens Big Ten Conference play on Saturday, Dec. 28, when the Huskers take on defending Big Ten Tournament champion Iowa. Tip-off between the Hawkeyes (9-2) and Huskers (10-1) is set for 1 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena with tickets on sale now at Huskers.com.