Strong third quarter helps Husker women remain undefeated on the road, defeat Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Normally it would spell trouble when you’ve hit 9 of 15 shots from 3-point range and yet you trail 40-38.

That’s where Nebraska found itself at halftime Wednesday night against Michigan State.

No cause for concern, though. Not for a team with a habit of leaving opponents in their dust on road trips.

The Huskers outscored the Spartans 24-10 in the third quarter and forged a 79-69 victory, improving to 19-7 overall, 10-3 in the Big Ten and 9-0 in road games. They share second place with Ohio State with three games left.

Freshmen Kate Cain and Taylor Kissinger keyed the third-quarter rally. Cain blocked three shots and Kissinger scored seven points in an 18-6 surge that put the Huskers up 12 entering the final quarter.

“I thought defensively we kind of locked down,” NU coach Amy Williams said on her postgame radio show. “I thought Kate Cain kind of set the tone. She got a couple of really big blocks early in the second half. It made them question a little bit more about going in there.”

Hannah Whitish and Nicea Eliely led the Huskers with 17 points apiece. Whitish was 5 for 7 from 3-point range. Eliely was 3 for 3 from long range and 5 for 6 overall in producing her season-high point total.

“I always think I should be more aggressive in helping out my team,” said Eliely, a 6-foot-1 sophomore averaging 8.7 points this season. “Giving me good passes always helps as well. It’s fun to shoot that well.”

The Spartans (15-12, 5-9) outscored the Huskers by six in the second quarter to take the lead, beating the Huskers downcourt for points and harassing Whitish, NU’s point guard. She finished with five assists and six turnovers.

“Late in the first half, I thought they kind of got in her shorts a little bit,” Williams said. “They were trying very, very hard to kind of pick up the pressure on her.

“She had a few turnovers, but she was able to bounce back from that, stay aggressive offensively and to knock down big shots when we needed them.”

Nebraska plays at 11 a.m. CST Saturday at Indiana (14-12, 7-6), which has won six straight games. The Huskers’ final home game is Feb. 22 against Penn State.

“We know we can do something big, something huge this year,” Eliely said. “It’s just great for us as a team knowing we’re getting better and knowing we can take that big step.”