Kim Barnes Arico, the head coach of the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines, can primarily thank Leigha Brown’s near-triple-double on 8-of-12 shooting for helping her reach her 500th career win, but Maddie Nolan and Emily Kiser’s combined seven threes, including three during a fourth-quarter pull-away effort, were key as well.
Brown finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the 76-59 triumph over the Nebraska Cornhuskers (RV, 10 points) Wednesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Kiser, the team’s leading scorer on the season at 18.4 points per game, was 3-of-5 from downtown and had 18 points, seven boards and three helpers, while Nolan (4-of-6 from distance) notched 16 points, three assists and two steals.
Nebraska impressively defeated now-No. 16 Maryland by 23 on Dec. 4 and was coming off a triple-overtime win over now-No. 22 Kansas. So this was a quality win for the Wolverines, who were coming off a big-time victory over then-No. 6 and now-No. 13 UNC.
A Kiser three 3:31 into the final frame that made it 58-44 gave Michigan its first noticeable difference in amount of breathing room in some time. Nolan followed with a triple from the right corner that made it 61-44. On the ensuing Nebraska possession, a Nolan deflection led to a Greta Kampschroeder steal, which led to a Brown layup that extended the Wolverine run to 10-0 and made it 63-44. The 19-point lead would be matched four times over the remainder of the game, but was not topped at any point during the contest. Another Kiser three, one that made it 66-47 Michigan with 2:55 to go, was among the highlights of the remainder and helped leave no doubt.
The margin alternated between Michigan by nine and Michigan by seven for the first five baskets of the third quarter. Nolan broke the trend with a three at the 7:01 mark that made it 42-32 Wolverines, but it was right back to a seven-point margin 22 seconds later after a Callin Hake three. Nebraska would get its closest in the frame on a Jaz Shelley layup that cut it to six with 3:06 to go before the fourth. The Huskers missed out on a golden opportunity to cut it even closer; Shelley missed her and-one free throw and then Annika Stewart got the offensive rebound only to see Kendall Moriarty and Shelley each miss a three before Michigan finally regained possession. The Wolverines regained their largest lead of the frame (10) with five ticks left on a Kiser free throw.
It was all Michigan for the first 11 minutes and 24 seconds, after which the Wolverines led 25-7. But a layup from Isabelle Bourne was followed by a Shelley three, cutting it to 25-12. Shelley continued the run by getting fouled from distance on the ensuing Nebraska possession and making 2-of-3 free throws. Another Husker star put together an impressive individual run later in the second quarter: Sam Haiby made two free throws and then turned her own mid-court steal into a fast break layup that cut it to 30-18. A Hake three would later cut it to 33-26, the closest margin for Nebraska since the 5:19 mark of the first when a Nolan three put Michigan up nine. A mid-range make at the buzzer for birthday girl Laila Phelia put the Wolverines up 35-26 at the break.
Michigan started the game on a 9-0 run featuring five points from Kiser. The Wolverines remained hot, led 19-5 after one and opened the second frame with a Kampschroeder steal. On the ensuing possession, Brown made a no-look pass to Phelia, who drained a three from the right corner to make it 22-5. Kampshroeder finished with five swipes.
With the loss, Nebraska head coach Amy Williams remains at 299 career wins. Regardless of who won the game, a milestone was going to be reached by a head coach. Husker sophomore Alexis Markowski (13 points per game on the season) was held to five points, but, with those five, tied her father, Andy Markowski, with 603 career points as a Nebraska basketball player. She also tied a game high with eight boards. Shelley led the Huskers with 21 points and five assists.
Michigan won field goal percentage 51.9 to 33.3. Though it only made two more threes than Nebraska, the Huskers took 26 attempts to make their six while Michigan went 8-of-18.