The backcourt struggled to score. The frontcourt struggled to get a stop.
Outside of a strong performance from junior forward Emily Cady, Nebraska women’s basketball coach Connie Yori struggled to find many positives in a 70-57 loss to Michigan State.
The No. 16 Huskers trailed by double digits for the entire second half — 25 points at one juncture. They threw away offensive possessions with traveling calls, bad passes and wayward, careening shots. And they let the mess on one end of the floor bleed onto the other.
“We let poor offense dictate our defense,” Yori said on her postgame radio show. “That’s a sign of playing on the road, not being as tough as we need to be. You can’t let mediocre to poor offense impact what you’re doing on the other end. We just let them have too many good looks.”
“Them” included starting Spartan forwards Annalise Pickrel and Becca Mills, who combined for 27 points and hit 10 of 21 shots. Pickel knocked down four 3-pointers. Guard Aerial Powers added 17 points and 15 rebounds as Michigan State (10-5, 2-0 Big Ten) scored 30 points in the paint. Powers’ putback at the halftime buzzer finished an 11-3 run and gave Michigan State a 37-24 halftime lead.
The Spartans opened the second half on another 11-3 run to push their lead to 48-27. Powers, a freshman, scored six points during that stretch.
Nebraska (11-3, 1-1) tried several different tacks to score against Michigan State’s big frontcourt. None of them, until a late surge after the game had long been decided, were effective.
Nebraska initially missed outside shots. Then guards Rachel Theriot, Tear’a Laudermill and Brandi Jeffery tried attacking the basket to little avail — the trio made just 6 of 28 shots on the night. Entry passes to Cady and Jordan Hooper, who scored 21 points, worked at times. Other lobs were swatted away or stolen.
“Our problem was we kept staring at the person posting up, so the defense shifted and took it away at times,” Cady said on the postgame radio show.
Cady finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Yori praised the Seward, Neb., native for her consistent effort.
“She got to the line,” Yori said. “She drove the ball. She had a pretty good match and she started taking advantage of that. She’s our glue.”
The Huskers head back on the road Sunday at Illinois.