LIVE! Nebraska at Illinois women's basketball

LIVE! Nebraska at Illinois women's basketball

FINAL: Nebraska 77, Illinois 67

The losing streak has reached three.

Despite a career-high 23-point performance from Arieal Scott, Illinois couldn't rally past Nebraska on Thursday night at State Farm Center.

Similar to their previous home game against Rutgers, the Illini (9-8, 1-5 Big Ten) made things interesting down the stretch, cuttting its deficit to seven points late in the fourth quarter but the Cornhuskers had the answer.

Ashtyn Veerbeek, who netted a team-high 19 points for Nebraska (8-9, 3-3), sealed the game with a three-pointer at the top of the key with 1:33 left in regulation that extended the Cornhuskers' advantage back up to double digits. 

After 3rd quarter: Nebraska 57, Illinois 44

Credit Arieal Scott for keeping the Illini in this game.

Scott has supplied 17 points, one off her career high, as Illinois trails by 13 entering the final period. 

Her last attempt was the best of the night. 

Scott reset her body quickly, spinning around 180 degrees before releasing a high-arching three-pointer that dropped through the net late in the third quarter. 

The Illini climbed to as close as five points of the Cornhuskers on a Sarah Shewan three-pointer midway through the third period, but Nebraska has snuffed out each of Illinois' comeback attempts through the opening 30 minutes. 

HALFTIME: Nebraska 36, Illinois 29 

The lllini continue to hang around against the Cornhuskers. 

After a poor start in which Illinois trailed by 15-2 in the opening five-plus minutes, the Illini closed the first quarter on a strong note and have stayed within shouting distance of Nebraska.

Illinois has been helped by the fact the Cornhuskers predictably cooled off after a hot start, falling from 65 percent from the field in the first quarter to 48 percent at the break.

Arieal Scott has been a huge factor in the Illini's push to cut into their early deficit, providing 12 points off the bench. 

Nebraska 25, Illinois 17, end first quarter 

The lllini closed the first quarter strong, outscoring the Cornhuskers by five in the final 4:35.

Illinois received a pair of three-pointers from Arieal Scott and Cierra Rice to take away some of the early momentum from Nebraska.

Rice beat the buzzer with a put-back layup off a missed hook shot from Alex Wittinger.

Scott's eight first-quarter points led the Illini. 

Nebraska 15, Illinois 2, 4:35 first quarter 

Cold starts have been nothing new to Illinois this season. And, Thursday's opening five-plus minutes were no different.

A 1 for 11 start from the field, coupled with Nebraska's hot shooting from deep — led by Ashtyn Veerbeek and Taylor Kissinger — have dug the Illini into a 13-point deficit at State Farm Center. 

The Cornhuskers have crowded the paint, trying to limit post touches to Alex Wittinger. Illinois has kicked the ball out a few times to its outside shooters, but Courtney Joens missed two open three-point looks. 

Nebraska at Illinois (BTN Plus, WDWS 1400-AM), 7 p.m.

It's T-minus 30 minutes before tipoff between the Illini women's basketball team and the Cornhuskers.

Both squads have been mired in a funk lately, with Illinois dropping two straight games since it's stunning 66-62 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 6.

"We started out (against) Penn State really doing a good job," coach Nancy Fahey said of last Saturday's 62-48 defeat to the Nittany Lions in State College, Pa., during which the Illini led by nine late in the first half. "Then, they punched us back and now (it's) that ability to say, 'Okay, your shot is not falling, don't let that affect your defense.'

"There's a combination. I don't think it's one thing. But, honestly, we have to score more points than we are scoring. We're not going to win if we don't do that."

Illinois has scored 60.4 points against Big Ten competition after averaging 75.9 in its 11 previous nonconference games.

Nebraska enters tonight's game on a three-game losing streak, but all three defeats came against opponents that are currently ranked in the top 25 in Iowa, Maryland and Rutgers. 

* * * 

Recent tough stretch leads to reflection for Fahey, Illini

CHAMPAIGN — A two-hour delay at the airport in State College, Pa., allowed more time for the Illinois women's basketball team to stew over a 14-point loss at Penn State.

Players sat around in silence inside the terminal.

When the Illini arrived back in Champaign-Urbana hours later last Saturday night, second-year Illinois coach Nancy Fahey said she took a "long walk" through the freshly-fallen snow around her neighborhood replaying in her mind what went wrong against the Nittany Lions.

The losses are taking their toll on Illinois and Fahey, who said she "grumbled for 48 hours" after the 62-48 defeat to Penn State.

To continue reading, click here. Then keep checking out IlliniHQ.com throughout the night for more Illinois women's basketball coverage.

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