MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nebraska’s Sam Haiby scored four points in eight seconds.
Haiby stole the ball on a Colorado inbound and laid it in for an easy bucket in the fourth quarter. On the following inbound, Haiby again poked the ball loose, got an assist from Mi’Cole Cayton and put the ball in the net.
“It just gave us some energy and excitement and something to get excited about,” coach Amy Williams said.
Despite a fourth-quarter comeback ignited by Haiby, Nebraska’s season came to an end after it fell to Colorado 75-71 in the second round of the WNIT.
Haiby led the Huskers with a game-high 20 points and went 6 of 6 from the foul line. Annika Stewart hit 3 of 4 from beyond the arc for 11 points. Bella Cravens scored 10 points and brought down eight rebounds. Kate Cain and Issie Bourne each added 10 points.
Guard Frida Formann led Colorado with a team-high 18 points and went 4 of 7 on 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Charlotte Whittaker went 6 of 8 from the field for 15 points and had seven rebounds.
After a layup by Bourne tied the game at 10-10 with 5:48 left in the first, the Buffaloes embarked on a 12-2 run starting with 3-pointers by Aubrey Knight and Mya Hollingshed on back-to-back possessions.
The Huskers didn’t score for three minutes until Haiby hit both of her free throws with 0:59 left in the first. Haiby followed up with the Huskers’ first 3-pointer of the game, and NU ended the first quarter down 22-17.
Nebraska hit 7 of 27 3-point attempts compared with 8 of 19 for the Buffaloes.
Riding the wave of a 11-2 run, Nebraska cut Colorado’s lead to 24-23 with 7:21 left in the half on a basket from Cain down low. The Huskers didn’t score again until another Cain jumper with 2:37 to play in the second quarter. The Buffaloes took advantage and scored six unanswered points.
Cayton knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:15 to pay in the half, and Stewart answered with another bucket from behind the arc. Colorado led 34-31 at halftime.
The Buffaloes had a 7-0 scoring run in the third quarter. Stewart scored five points to carry NU back into the game and head into the final quarter down 50-47.
Whittaker made two buckets early in the fourth quarter, and Lesila Finau delivered a 3-point shot to give Colorado a 57-49 lead with 8:19 to play.
Haiby’s four points in eight seconds closed CU’s lead to 68-63 with 2:14 left.
Cayton sank a 3 to shrink CU’s lead to three with 59.6 seconds left. Stewart made a 3 with seven seconds remaining to make it 74-71, but Finau’s free throw kept NU at bay.
Colorado advances to play the winner of Ole Miss and Tulane on Monday night.
Nebraska ends its season at 13-13.
“We continued to scratch and claw and fight all the way to the end, and I think that to me is pretty telltale, for this whole season,” Williams said.
Williams said that last June when her team discussed the culture traits and characteristics it wanted to be known for, grit was one of them.
“That was really one of the big things, is that we were going to be a team that was relentless, that was going to fight and scratch and claw all the way to the end, and I think that’s something that we accomplished in this particular game and most of the season.”
The Huskers upset five Top 25 teams and battled through a roster limited to seven players at times, and Williams said she is proud of how her team handled the obstacles and that her team is excited for the future.
“We’ve been through a lot, and for the kids to already be talking about their excitement for next year and the work that they want to put in between now and then, I think that’s a pretty special thing.
“I just told the girls that I’m proud of the way they’ve carried themselves with class and grace through everything of this season. And I think we’ve moved the program forward and there’s a new mission on hand.”