Nebraska Women’s Basketball Wins Tournament Title

San Diego – Jaz Shelley led three Huskers in double figures with 16 points, including a pair of huge fourth-quarter three-pointers, to help Nebraska surge down the stretch for a 64-56 victory over the hosts from San Diego in the championship game of The Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Saturday.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 7-0 to start the season for the first time since 2014-15, while the Toreros slipped to 4-2 with their first home setback of the year.

The Huskers were clinging to a 53-52 lead with four minutes left, when Shelley came free against USD’s pressure defense and buried a three-pointer to give the Big Red a 56-52 lead. Bella Cravens, who finished with a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with seven points and three blocked shots, added a free throw to push the lead to 57-52.

But Ayanna Khalfani scored on a putback with two minutes left to make it a one-possession game again, before Shelley answered with her fifth three-pointer to extend the margin to 60-54. Cravens and Sam Haiby, who scored six of her 15 points in the fourth quarter, then sank four straight free throws in the final minute to give the Huskers their biggest lead of game at 64-54 and cap an 11-2 surge over a four-minute span.

Haiby added a game-high five assists, including several to Ashley Scoggin in the third quarter. Scoggin, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 three-pointers including a trio of long balls in the third quarter, added outstanding defense along with the rest of the Big Red.

Alexis Markowski also powered contributions by the Nebraska bench that included seven points and seven rebounds, while Annika Stewart added five points and two boards of her own.

Nebraska overcame tenacious defense by the Toreros to hit 39.2 percent (20-51) of its shots, including a sizzling 52.6 percent (10-19) from three-point range. Entering the tournament, the Toreros had surrendered just six three-pointers through the first four games of the year.

The Huskers hit 14-of-24 free throws, but outscored the Toreros 14-11 at the line on the night. Nebraska also dominated the glass, 46-34. San Diego forced 23 Husker turnovers, but Nebraska’s defense answered by forcing 18 miscues by USD.

NU also held San Diego to just 34.5 percent (20-58) shooting, including just 5-of-15 three-pointers. The Toreros went 11-of-19 at the free throw line.

In a low-scoring first half, Nebraska used a suffocating defense and strong work on the defensive glass to take a 27-20 halftime lead. Shelley led the Huskers with nine points on a trio of three-pointers while also snagging four steals for the Big Red.

The Huskers jumped to a quick 7-2 lead before San Diego responded with a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 9-7. The Toreros took their biggest lead (14-9) on a Kiera Oakry three-pointer late in the first quarter, before Shelley’s three-pointer with 55 seconds left in the period cut USD’s lead to 14-13 at the end of the quarter.

After closing the first quarter with four straight points, Nebraska extended its run to 11-0 with seven straight points to start the second period, including a three-pointer by Shelley.  After fellow Australian Steph Gorman stopped NU’s run with a three-pointer, Shelley answered with her third three-pointer.

Nebraska got a layup from Haiby and a pair of Cravens free throws with 16 seconds left to end the half with four straight points and take its biggest lead into the locker room.

The Huskers led at the half by holding USD to just 24 percent shooting while forcing 13 Torero turnovers. However, NU committed 13 turnovers of its own and managed just 35.7 percent shooting from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Nebraska did win the first-half battle of the boards, 24-17.

Nebraska pushed the lead to 33-24 three minutes into the second half after back-to-back three-pointers by Scoggin. Despite a third three by Scoggin, who scored nine of NU’s first 10 points of the second half in the first 4:30 of the quarter, USD still cut the Husker lead to two points at 37-35 after back-to-back traditional three-point plays by Laura Erikstrup. She finished with eight points – all in the third quarter – in eight minutes before fouling out.

Haiby and Shelley hit free throws late in the period to send Nebraska to the final quarter with a 47-46 lead.

But San Diego regained the lead with the first made basket of the fourth quarter by Khalfani. After a Haiby field goal, Kasey Neubert answered with a two of her own to give USD its final lead at 50-49 with 7:12 left. Markowski and Haiby then hit consecutive field goals to give NU a three-point edge, before Sydney Hunter cut the margin back 53-52 with 4:30 left. Nebraska then erupted on its decisive 11-2 surge, before Neubert got the last Torero points of the night with 15 seconds left.

Nebraska will return to Lincoln briefly before continuing its four-game road swing by battling 2021 NCAA Tournament qualifier Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday. Tip-off between the Huskers and Demon Deacons (7-0) is set for 6 p.m. (CT)