LINCOLN – Taylor Kissinger was 4 for 18 on 3-pointers entering Nebraska’s game Wednesday night with Duke. And if she’s being honest, she wasn’t sensing a turnaround.

“Before the game, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to miss every shot again,’ ” she said.

A couple of hours later, teammate Hannah Whitish stepped to the foul line twice with the Huskers up by two in the final 30 seconds. Whitish hadn’t shot a free throw all game. Or all season.

“That was not really the best feeling,” she said.

But both players’ aim was true. Kissinger finished 6 of 9 on 3-pointers and scored 19 points to lead her team to an 83-79 win in front of a boisterous crowd of 4,013 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Whitish, the senior point guard, went 4 for 4 at the line at the end. The second pair pushed the lead to four points with 5.8 seconds left, securing a victory over a team that has reached the Sweet 16 seven times and the Elite Eight four in Joanne P. McCallie’s 12 seasons.

“Great basketball game. Great atmosphere,” McCallie said. “Nebraska’s an excellent team.”

The Huskers improved to 8-1 and dropped Duke to 6-3 by winning the kind of game that often slipped away last season, when NU finished 14-16 with 10 losses by one or two possessions.

Kissinger and Whitish had plenty of help in making it happen:

» Sophomore forward Ashtyn Verbeek contributed 14 points in 22 minutes, going 5 for 5 from the floor including 3 for 3 from 3-point range. The Huskers outscored the Blue Devils by 10 in her 22 minutes.

“She set the tone for our team,” coach Amy Williams said. “She was aggressive offensively right away. She was shot-ready.”

» Junior center Kate Cain added 12 points, five rebounds and five blocks. And her 10-footer pushed the NU lead to three with 2:21 left.

“If we have shooters like Taylor shooting big outside, it’s harder to help in,” Cain said. “So it opens everything up.”

» Sophomore wing Leigha Brown, perhaps the Huskers’ best midrange shooter, struggled to find good looks against the zone of the tall, athletic Blue Devils, finishing 1 for 9 from the floor. But she outhustled them to some late loose balls to extend possessions and hit two free throws with 44.9 seconds left to build the lead to four.

» Isabelle Bourne, the Husker freshman forward from Australia, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, four on offense, and added six points.

“Izzy was a monster on the boards today,” Cain said. “The amount of growth I’ve seen from Izzy so far this season is insane.”

Kissinger, on the other hand, is a known commodity: The junior wing from Minden ranked fourth nationally last season in 3-point shooting at 45.6%.

But she missed four games last month with a concussion, and in her first game back, she went 0 for 4 from deep in the Huskers’ home loss to Creighton.

Rather than dwelling on the possibility of another cold game Wednesday, she reminded herself that she’s more than a shooter. She focused on other parts of her game — talking on defense, supporting teammates during her stints on the bench.

When she was in, teammates kept looking for her behind the 3-point line, and this time she delivered.

“I think you have to tip your hat to 33 (Kissinger) ... in terms of the game she had and how they found her,” McCallie said.

The Huskers finished with 23 assists on 28 baskets, and they won their first Big Ten/ACC Challenge game in Kissinger’s three seasons.

“It was a great game. I had so much fun,” she said. “That was a huge win for us.”


Duke (6-3)..................    20    25    17    17—79

At Nebraska (8-1).......    21    28    18    ​16—83

DU: Gorecki 5-15 3-6 14, Goodchild 6-11 0-0 15, Odom 9-17 2-4 20, Baines 1-3 1-2 3, Akinbode-James 6-10 1-1 13, Nwoke 0-0 1-2 1, Lambert 3-5 0-0 6, Williams 3-7 1-2 7. Totals: 33-68 9-17 79.

NU: Whitish 2-7 4-4 10, Haiby 2-5 0-1 5, Eliely 4-5 1-2 9, Veerbeek 5-5 1-1 14, Cain 6-11 0-0 12, Mitchell 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 1-9 6-7 8, Kissinger 6-9 1-2 19, Bourne 2-6 2-3 6. Totals: 28-58 15-20 83.

3-point field goals: DU 4-17 (Gorecki 1-5, Goodchild 3-7, Lambert 0-2, Williams 0-3), NU 12-27 (Whitish 2-7, Haiby 1-3, Eliely 0-1, Veerbeek 3-3, Brown 0-1, Kissinger 6-9, Bourne 0-3).

Rebounds: DU 37 (Gorecki 7, Odom 7), NU 35 (Bourne 7). Assists: DU 13 (Gorecki 4), NU 23 (Whitish 6).

Get a daily Husker news roundup, recruiting updates and breaking news in your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.