Rosalie’s Reaction: Romeo leads Huskers to tourney WIN


Natalie Romeo, surrounded by senior talent, sparked the Nebraska women’s basketball team to an important tournament win over the Illinois Fighting Illini 86-71 last evening at the Sears Centre in Hoffman States, Illinois. Dressed in throwback jerseys from 1998, the Husker women began their quest to defend their 2014 Big Ten tournament championship.

It was the 3rd meeting this season between the Huskers and the Illini. Nebraska won the first two and was intent upon earning the “sweep.” From the moment Nebraska took the floor, they owned it. With an offense finally clicking on all cylinders, they shot early and often. Game statistics show the Big Red shot a season-high 61.7 percent (29-47) from the field, including 50 percent (8-16) from the three-point arc.Huskers were efficient from the charity stripe, connecting on 20-of-23 free throws (.870).

More from Husker Corner

Freshman guard Natalie Romeo was simply “on fire” as she tied a school record with seven three-pointers on her way to collecting a career-high 26 points.

All the Husker senior starters performed at a high level as well. Hailie Sample collected 14 points, 4-4 from the field, 6-6 at the free throw line, seven rebounds, four rebounds and a block. Tear’a Laudermill added 14 points, 5-8 from the field, 3-3 at the charity stripe, four assists and a block. Senior Emily Cady had 11 points, 4-6 from the floor and 3-4 at the line with eight rebounds and an assist. Brandi Jeffery added six points while grabbing nine rebounds and with eight assists.

The Seniors (photo by Jeff Suggs)

On the defensive side, the Big Red knew they had to find the key to stopping the Illini shooters. The Huskers forced three first-half fouls on three Illini players – freshman center Chatrice White, forward Jacqui Grant and Senior Ivory Crawford. With their leading scorers sitting on the bench in the first half, the Illini offense was plagued by poor shooting and careless ball handling.

The Huskers had a brilliant first half game but could it hold up? At times over the season the Big Red had run “out of gas” in the second half. In a tournament setting, you definitely have to play the entire 40 minutes.

Coming out of the locker room with a comfortable lead, the Huskers just kept rolling. The Illinois offense was a bit more organized in the second half. The Illini were able to chip into the Husker’s 20 point lead but the Big Red kept their foot on the gas. Near the end of the game with all the Husker starters sitting, Coach Yori was able to give her bench some valuable floor minutes. When the offense briefly faltered, the Huskers starters returned to the floor to secure the 15 point victory.

With the win, the Huskers improve to 21-9 overall. They move on to meet the second-seeded No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes Friday night at 6 p.m.(CT). This will be the third meeting between the two squads this season. Iowa has prevailed twice. Will the third time be the charm for the Big Red?? Can they remain focused and play “lights out?” Follow the team via radio broadcast over or watch live television coverage on BTN. Stay tuned for updates and as always, GO BIG RED!!