Turnovers doom Husker women’s basketball in loss to Clemson

LINCOLN — Nebraska lost by a point to Clemson on Thursday night after leading by five with 3-1/2 minutes to go, but the game’s conclusion was only the beginning of the Huskers’ reasons for lament.

There were their 26 turnovers. The repeated chip shots that rimmed out. The two technical fouls on the Husker bench. And the 33 points by Clemson guard Danielle Edwards.

It added up to a 67-66 Husker defeat in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Pinnacle Bank Arena that dropped the Huskers to 4-3.

“This is a tough loss for our team,” NU coach Amy Williams said. “We felt like we had plenty of opportunities, and we want to be able to protect our home court.”

The Huskers turned a four-point deficit entering the fourth quarter into a 66-61 lead with 3:40 left after a Taylor Kissinger layup off a Hannah Whitish assist.

But the Huskers didn’t score again. They committed turnovers on their next four possessions, and Whitish missed an open 15-footer and a layup after a strong pick by freshman center Kate Cain.

But many Huskers likely had moments of regret. Cain, who scored 11 points and blocked a season-high six shots, missed some chippies, too. Kissinger, who led NU with 17 points, went 0 for 2 at the foul line, and her team went 12 of 18 compared with 22 of 25 for Clemson.

“There were a bunch of shots in the game we make 9 out of 10 times,” Whitish said. “They just didn’t fall that time.”

The Huskers appeared bothered by the long arms and physical defense of Clemson (5-2). Nicea Eliely committed six turnovers, and three teammates had three. Whitish was picked clean twice by Clemson defenders.

“They’re just a lot longer than what we’ve played,” Kissinger said. “But once we get to the Big Ten, everybody’s going to be just as long. So we’re just going to have to fix that.”

The Huskers jumped to an 8-0 lead but fell behind 42-38 by halftime. They were burned repeatedly by Edwards, a slender 5-foot-7 junior who entered the game averaging 8.5 points and shooting 30.4 percent from the floor, including 10 percent (2 of 20) on 3-pointers.

Edwards had 21 points in 16 first-half minutes, and she finished 9 of 15 from the floor, including 5 of 9 on 3-pointers, and was 10 for 10 at the line. Her teammates combined to go 10 of 38 from the floor.

“She had a great game today,” Williams said. “She’s one of those good players who when she sees the ball go through the basket, she becomes much more difficult to defend.”

Four of her free throws came on technical fouls on the Husker bench. The first one appeared to be on Williams. She said she wasn’t sure who drew the second.

“That’s something we’ll have a hard time sleeping tonight just knowing that we gave away some points there,” Williams said. “It’s not something we as a coaching staff want to do to our team.”

One bright spot for the Huskers was the debut of senior guard Janay Morton, a transfer from Eastern Michigan. Coming off of three full practices after recovering from foot surgery, the 5-10 guard contributed five points and three rebounds in 10 minutes. She hit her only shot from the floor, a 3-pointer, and both of her free throws.

“I’m excited about having Janay back on court,” Williams said. “I think she provides another explosive scorer for us.”

Clemson (5-2)…………….15 27 16    9—67

At Nebraska (4-3)………..14 24 16 12—66

C: Atkism 1-4 2-2 4, Thornton 3-10 2-2 8, Edwards 9-15 10-10 33, Tagliapietra 0-3 0-0 0, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Bennett 1-2 2-3 4, Alexander 2-3 0-0 4, Carter 0-4 3-4 3, Collier 2-9 2-2 7, Cotton 1-1 0-0 3, Purvis 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 19-53 22-25 67.

NU: Kissinger 7-12 0-2 17, Cain 4-7 3-4 11, Cincore 2-6 0-0 5, Eliely 4-7 0-0 9, Whitish 3-9 0-0 8, Blackburn 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell 1-6 0-0 2, Washington 0-0 2-4 2, Morton 1-1 2-2 5, Stallworth 1-4 1-2 3, Wood 0-0 4-4 4. Totals 23-52 12-18 66.

3-Point Goals: C 7-19 (Edwards 5-9, Collier 1-3, Cotton 1-1, Tagliapietra 0-3, Thomas 0-1, Carter 0-2), NU 8-17 (Kissinger 3-6, Whitish 2-4, Eliely 1-1, Cincore 1-4, Mitchell 0-1, Morton 1-1). Rebounds: C 33 (Thornton 7), NU 35 (Cain 8). Assists: C 8 (Collier 4), NU 12 (Whitish 4). Turnovers: C 20, NU 26. Total Fouls: C 18, NU 22. Fouled Out: None. Technicals: NU bench 2. A: 3,579.