Nebraska women’s basketball center Kate Cain tirelessly battled Penn State’s Johnasia Cash as Cash carried the Nittany Lions to an 85-74 victory on Thursday night.
Cash sparked a 17-3 run during the final three minutes that propelled Penn State past the Huskers. She finished with 27 points and 19 rebounds in 24 minutes — the fourth consecutive double-double for the 6-foot-2 senior.
“Penn State, give them credit, they have a lot of shooters, and then one really special post player inside that just really went to work on us,” said Nebraska coach Amy Williams, referring to Cash.
Cain was up for the battle down low as she led Nebraska with 21 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Guard Sam Haiby, who averages 17.8 points per game, finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Penn State took advantage at the foul line. While Nebraska (9-6, 7-5) made just 4 of 12, Penn State went 26 of 32, including 15 of 19 in the fourth quarter. Cash also helped the Nittany Lions outrebound the Huskers 50-41.
The Nittany Lions (7-7, 4-6) came out hot, penetrating the lane and winning one-on-one matchups on the block.
“They did a great job of really attacking us and getting points in the paint,” Williams said.
NU forward Issie Bourne returned after being sidelined four games due to an ankle injury. She finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
“(She) was able to really spark us,” Williams said. “I thought with nine rebounds, three assists, just doing a lot of little things, her presence on the court is huge.”
The Huskers led once in the first half at 2-0 as Penn State controlled the first quarter and went into the second with a 20-12 lead.
NU guards Whitney Brown and Ashley Scoggin opened the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers. The Huskers were 0 of 7 from the behind the arc in the first quarter, but they went 5 of 8 in the second.
After shooting 33% from the floor in the first quarter, Nebraska hit 10 of 17 (56.6%) in the second quarter to put within 44-40 at halftime.
The Huskers finished the night shooting 42% from the field and 37% beyond the arc.
The Huskers went on a 13-0 run in the third quarter, capped by a Scoggin 3-pointer and two layups by Cain, for their second lead of the game, 54-51 with four minutes remaining in the third.
From there, the teams traded baskets and the lead as Cain added four baskets, Brown hit a 3 and Ruby Porter made a layup to keep the Huskers within a single possession of the Nittany Lions.
But after a 3-pointer by Bourne put NU up 71-68 with 3:39 left, Nebraska’s offense sputtered.
Penn State went on its 17-3 run as NU’s only basket came on a 3-pointer by Scoggin with 46 seconds left.
Scoggin finished with 11 points after not scoring in NU’s previous two games. Brown added nine points, going 3 of 4 beyond the arc, while Bella Cravens, who was briefly sidelined with a left knee injury, finished with six rebounds and six points.
“Seventy-four points needs to be enough for us to win ballgames,” Williams said. “So very clearly, the defensive effort that we had tonight is not good enough to win in this league.”
PSU guard Makenna Marisa had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and guard Shay Hagans added 10 points and five boards.
“We respect when we see somebody that’s a good, talented player, and we’re just gonna have to do a much better job the next time we play Penn State and really trying to play defense before (Cash) catches,” Williams said.
Nebraska plays Penn State in Lincoln on Feb. 21. The Huskers stay on the road and will play at Rutgers on Sunday at 1 p.m.