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Husker women pound paint to overcome 3-point barrage, defeat Denver

December 17, 2018

LINCOLN — Nebraska saw a 3-point barrage by an opponent the likes of which Pinnacle Bank Arena had never seen.

Not only did the Huskers withstand it, they made sure it never posed much of a threat.

Despite a career-high 33 points from Denver’s Samantha Romanowski, who was an arena-record 8 of 8 from 3-point range, the Huskers routed the Pioneers 96-71 before 3,703 fans Saturday afternoon.

Five Huskers scored in double figures, led by Taylor Kissinger with 18, as Nebraska took it to the high-scoring Pioneers by pounding the inside, outscoring Denver 52-14 in the paint.

Denver entered the game averaging 83.9 points per game, 18th in the country, but Nebraska held the Pioneers to 39 percent shooting.

Nebraska coach Amy Williams was relieved to overcome the performance by Romanowski.

“I thought we probably didn’t do as good of a job as we needed to, once we recognized that she was kind of feeling it and was the hot hand, of just limiting her touches,” Williams said. “That’s what we were trying to do.

“They did a pretty good job of still finding ways to get the ball in her hands. I thought she made some extremely tough shots over contested hands.”

The Huskers led 31-19 after the first quarter and 52-37 at halftime, shooting 50 percent (16 of 32).

Nebraska made 16 of 19 free throws in the first half . Kissinger said knocking down shots from the line was a point of emphasis.

“They’re free points so got to convert on them,” said the sophomore from Minden, Nebraska.

Kissinger was one of five Huskers with at least 14 points. Leigha Brown finished with 17, while Kate Cain, Nicea Eliely and Ashtyn Veerbeek all added 14.

The Huskers (5-5) built a 63-48 advantage with 4:50 left in the third quarter, but a Romanowski trey cut the Pioneer deficit to 63-53 to force a Nebraska timeout.

A Romanowski jumper on the Pioneers’ next possession got Denver to within 63-55, but the Huskers responded by focusing on the inside and outscored Denver 33-16 the rest of the way.

“Find a way to take advantage of what our strength is on the offensive end to try to stop the bleeding,” Williams said.

“I thought we had a stretch there where we were kind of settling for outside jump shots. We went back inside and kind of took advantage of where we had the largest advantage, which was points in the paint.”

Romanowski said her success from long range surprised her.

She entered the game 9 of 32 from 3-point range this season, and the Pioneers weren’t able to have their shootaround Saturday in the arena because of another event there earlier in the day.

“Kind of when I made those first 3s like they were going in, I was kind of shocked because some of them were like, ‘Oh, OK.’ But I didn’t really see it as a big scoring night per se,” Romanowski said.

“It was kind of just the way that their defense was and me being open, and I know that some other people were having trouble scoring, so I was trying to get the momentum going.”

Nebraska, which has won three in a row, next travels to Arkansas on Tuesday.

Denver (7-4)...................19 18 18 16—71

At Nebraska (5-5)...........31 21 19 25—96

DU: Nelson 5-7 7-12 19, Smith 4-13 2-2 10, Loven 0-2 2-2 2, Gritt 1-7 2-4 4, Romanowski 12-18 1-2 33, White 0-2 0-0 0, Jeffcoat 0-2 1-2 1, Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Simental 0-1 0-0 0, Malonga 1-7 0-2 2. Totals 23-59 15-26 71.

NU: Simon 4-7 0-1 8, Cain 7-9 0-3 14, Whitish 1-6 0-0 2, Eliely 6-8 1-1 14, Kissinger 5-13 4-4 18, Mitchell 0-1 0-0 0, Veerbeek 3-4 8-8 14, Brown 4-7 7-8 17, Mershon 1-2 0-0 2, Haiby 3-10 1-2 7. Totals 34-67 21-27 96.

3-point goals: DU 10-24 (Romanowski 8-8, Nelson 2-4, Malonga 0-1, White 0-2, Smith 0-3, Loven 0-2, Gritt 0-3). NU 7-25 (Kissinger 4-10, Brown 2-5, Eliely 1-3, Simon 0-1, Whitish 0-3, Haiby 0-2, Veerbeek 0-1). Fouled out: DU, Smith. Technical Fouls: None. Rebounds: DU 35 (Gritt 8), NU 39 (Kissinger, Haiby 6). Assists: DU 11 (Gritt 3), NU 27 (Haiby 8). Total fouls: DU 20, UNO 23. Turnovers: DU 16, NU 11. A: 3,703.

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