Short-handed Husker team falls to Purdue at home

Playing without senior leaders Rachel Theriot and Kyndal Clark, the Nebraska Cornhuskers women’s basketball team found themselves out of sync Sunday in a 68-50 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Theriot, who leads the team with 7.3 assists per game, was officially ruled out of Sunday’s contest during pregame warm ups with an ankle injury. The Huskers tallied only 11 total assists in the loss.

As for Clark, head coach Connie Yori said the fifth-year senior will miss the remainder of the season due to knee injuries.

“She’s been playing through a lot of pain,” Yori said. “There are a lot of players that probably wouldn’t have been able to play through half of (what she was playing through).”

The Huskers fall to 17-10 on the season (8-8 in the Big 10), while the Boilermakers (also 17-10) snapped a five-game conference losing streak with the victory.

Purdue was led by junior guard Ashley Morrissette, who scored a game high 19 points. The Boilermakers shot nearly 50 percent as a team, and out-rebounded the Huskers 45-26.

Perhaps more impressive than Purdue’s offense was its defense of Husker freshman phenom Jessica Shepard.

Shepard, who averages over 20 points and eight rebounds per game and has been named Big 10 Freshman of the Week a record 10 times this season, was held scoreless in the first half. She finished the game with two points and five boards.

Nebraska was led offensively by sophomore standout Natalie Romeo, who set the Nebraska record for three-pointers made in a season with 90. Romeo finished with 15 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.

The Huskers pulled to within five points of Purdue in the third quarter before the Boilermaker’s scored on their next three possessions, thanks in part to Nebraska turnovers.

“It deflated us,” Yori said of the team’s 17 giveaways.

The loss casts serious doubts on the Huskers’ chances to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The team made it to the tournament each of Nebraska’s first four seasons in the Big 10 (2012-2015 seasons).

While it is not impossible for Nebraska to return again this year, junior guard Allie Havers says the team’s path to the postseason won’t be easy.

“We’re going to face really good teams coming up,” Havers said.

“But we’re at home, we have a great crowd. We just need to feed off their energy and create our own.”

The Huskers take on a pair of Big 10 foes in Indiana on Wednesday, Feb. 24, before closing out the regular season against Northwestern the following Saturday. Both games are at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

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