ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A rough third quarter hurt Nebraska’s chances for a third straight upset victory Thursday night, but problem No. 1 was second shots.
No. 15 Michigan stayed unbeaten by beating the Huskers 64-62 at the Crisler Center, outrebounding Nebraska 59-32. That included a 30-7 edge in offensive boards.
The Huskers (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) had no answer for All-Big Ten post Naz Hillmon. She finished with 35 points and 22 rebounds, including 13 on offense.
“It’s really the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen,” coach Amy Williams said. “If you would have told me before the game we were going to give up 30 offensive rebounds, I would have thought the game was going to be a 30-point blowout.”
The Huskers hung tough behind 27 points from junior guard Sam Haiby and tenacious team defense.
The Wolverines (8-0, 3-0) played without guard Leigha Brown, an NU transfer and last year’s Big Ten sixth player of the year who was in COVID-19 protocol, and struggled with their shooting. They were 24 for 74 from the floor. Aside from Hillmon, they were 9 for 51.
But they kept beating Nebraska to the misses.
The Huskers, coming off back-to-back upset wins at home over then-No. 15 Northwestern and Rutgers, looked like they might be running out of gas in the third quarter, when Michigan outscored them 18-8 to overcome a 35-34 halftime deficit. Nebraska hit 4 of 15 shots from the floor in the quarter and were outrebounded 21-8.
But the Huskers battled back in the fourth quarter, closing to two with a minute left, and looked like the fresher team at the end.
The Wolverines hung on after Hillmon scored on a follow shot with 38 seconds left and Akienreh Johnson hit two free throws with nine seconds to go.
Hillmon’s effort overshadowed another big game by Haiby, who hit 10 of 16 from the floor with a team-high nine rebounds.
“It was a special effort by Sam Haiby,” Williams said. “I thought she made some big baskets, just tough plays where she would somehow maneuver herself down in and finish at the rim.”
Next up for the Huskers is another tough one at 2 p.m. Sunday at No. 23 Michigan State.
Rebounding figures to be a focus between now and then.
“They’re doing a better job contesting shots,” Williams said. “Now we just have to finish defensive possessions with a rebound.”