Daytona Beach, Fla. – Nebraska rallied from a 10-point first-quarter deficit to take a seven-point third-quarter lead, but Buffalo finished the game on a 20-6 surge to claim an 82-72 win over the Husker women’s basketball team at the San Juan Shootout at the Ocean Center on Thanksgiving Day. Buffalo, which returned four starters from a team that won 22 games a year ago, improved to 3-0 with the win while Nebraska slipped to 3-2 with its second straight setback.
The Bulls, who had not played a game in 10 days, started on fire, burying 8-of-9 shots and all five of its three-pointers to take a 21-11 lead with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
Buffalo led 23-13 after a layup by senior point guard Stephanie Reid with 2:10 left in the quarter but as Reid ran back down the floor toward the defensive end, she suffered a knee injury and fell to floor screaming at the 28-foot-line extended in front of the Nebraska bench. Play was stopped and Reid did not return.
Nebraska hit back-to-back three-pointers to close the quarter, then scored the first four points of the second quarter to cap a 10-0 run and tie the score at 23. The score was tied again at 25 after the second straight layup by Darrien Washington, but Buffalo held off the Huskers the rest of the half and took a 39-37 lead to the locker room at halftime.
Nebraska played its best basketball of the game to start the second half, getting eight straight points from freshman center Kate Cain to jump out to a 45-39 edge. After Buffalo’s Cassie Oursler stopped a more than six-minute field goal drought for the Bulls, Husker freshman Taylor Kissinger buried a three-pointer to give Nebraska its biggest lead of the game at 48-41 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
At the five-minute mark, Buffalo inserted reserve point guard Hanna Hall and the Bulls responded. A three-pointer by junior transfer Cierra Dillard supplied a spark and the Bulls regained a 53-52 lead on a free throw by Summer Hemphill with 58 seconds left in the quarter. That lead was short-lived as Kissinger hit another three with 44 seconds left to send Nebraska to the fourth quarter with a 55-53 edge. Kissinger finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Nebraska continued to match the Bulls blow for blow and took its biggest lead of the fourth quarter on four consecutive free throws from Jasmine Cincore to make it 66-62 Big Red with 7:10 left. Cincore finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
From that point, it was nearly all Bulls, who outscored the Huskers, 20-6, in the final seven minutes. Nebraska went 0-for-6 from three-point range in the fourth quarter and hit just 6-of-12 free throws, including 2-for-8 in the final seven minutes.
Buffalo hit 7-of-14 shots in the final quarter, including 1-of-3 threes, and nailed 12-of-13 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Hannah Whitish led the four Huskers in double figures with 15 points and six assists, while Cain finished with 12 points, including 10 in the second half, while adding a pair of blocks.
As a team, Nebraska hit 38.8 percent (26-67) of its shots from the field, including 10-of-33 threes (.303) but just 10-of-22 free throws (.455). The Huskers outrebounded Buffalo, 42-40, but lost the turnover battle, 15-11.
Buffalo finished 42.6 percent (26-61) from the field, including 8-of-23 (.348) from long range and connected on 22-of-27 free throws. Dillard led Buffalo with 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-11 threes, and 6-of-7 free throws. She added a game-high six steals.
Katherine Ups pitched in 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 threes, and 3-of-4 free throws, while Oursler contributed 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting while making all four of her free throws. Hemphill gave the Bulls four players in double figures with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Hall contributed six points and two assists in 16 minutes in place of Reid, who had two points and five assists in just under eight minutes.
Nebraska will close its stay at the San Juan Shootout on Friday when the Huskers take on Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers slipped to 3-2 on the season with a 50-34 loss to North Texas in Thursday’s opening game at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.