Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Pat Radigan
Late turnover costs Wisconsin chance at upset
Wisconsin forced a Husker miss with 25.3 to play and took a timeout down one. Even when the first plan went awry, the Badgers had one last time out to draw up a play with 6.7 on the clock.
Nebraska didn’t even let them inbound the ball.
A five-second violation after Wisconsin’s second timeout gave the ball back to Nebraska. Two Maddie Simon free throws and an errand heavy by the Badgers later, and the Huskers escaped with a 51-48 win to bounce back from a week off after a loss the last time out.
It wasn’t pretty, but NU coach Amy Williams said she was happy her team could “grind out” a win in front of the 6,823 in attendance.
“We are not usually very excited to have 51 points in games, but I thought we got some defensive stops down the stretch when we really needed to,” Williams said. “We’ll take wins in this league any way we can get them.”
A run late in the third quarter woke Nebraska up after a slow start before the Huskers survived down the stretch with defense.
Kate Cain led Nebraska with 14 points and 9 rebounds, and played a key role in keeping NU within striking defense. A jumper by Bria Stallworth gave the Huskers a lead for a possession in the third quarter, then Cain evened the game at 38 with the first basket of the fourth quarter. Cain scored her final basket a few possessions later, and put Nebraska ahead by a point.
Although Wisconsin would answer with a ‘3’ by Cayla McMorris, the Badgers would score just once more over the final 4:45 to set the stage for Nebraska to sneak out the win.
Nicea Eliely scored to even the game after McMorris’ make, then made a free throw to break the final tie of the game and put NU ahead 47-46. McMorris tried to find another answer from long range, and Marsha Howard had a second-chance opportunity–neither dropped.
On the other end, Taylor Kissinger found space and banked in a runner to push the lead out to 49-46, Nebraska’s largest lead of the game. Kissinger also hit a 3-pointer and a couple of free throws to help the the Huskers survive a slow start to the second half, and finished with 11 points as the only other NU player in double figures.
”Wisconsin did a good job of really good job of taking away my shot,” Kissinger said. “Since they were doing that I was trying to find other ways to help my teammates. If shots aren’t falling you’ve got to find a way to get to the hoop.”
The Badgers weren’t going to just disappear, though, and Howard cut the Nebraska lead to one with a basket inside the final two minutes.
Nebraska took a timeout to try and put together a play, but a five-second closely guarded call gave the ball back to the Badgers. The teams quick traded turnovers when Wisconsin was called for a travel. That gave the ball back to the Huskers with a chance to get some insurance. Hannah Whitish wound up taking the shot for NU, and was unable to convert to set the stage for the dramatic conclusion.
Wisconsin advanced the ball with the first timeout, and ran 20 seconds off the clock while trying to get a shot before calling another timeout. Things only got worse for the Badgers, and Maddie Simon’s on-ball defense combined with a gritty man-to-man effort to keep Wisconsin from being able to inbound the ball before committing the turnover.
The Badgers had to commit two fouls before putting NU in the penalty. Eventually, Maddie Simon hit a pair of free throws, and Niya Beverley had a look at a desperation heave. Nebraska officially secured the win when the shot hammered off the backboard, and the Huskers moved into a tie for second place in the Big Ten by avoiding the upset.
Nebraska stayed close in the first half thanks to Cain and a spark off of the bench for Janay Morton. Cain scored 8 points, and was the only starter to make a shot. Simon made a first-half free throw to make her the only other starter to score. To make up for the slow start, Morton hit 3 of 4 from 3-point range to keep the Huskers close early. Kissinger scored the final two baskets of the half to help fill in for the lack of scoring from the starters, and cut Wisconsin’s lead to 28-24 after 20 minutes of play.
The Huskers were able to turn it around, though, and leaned on its defense to halt the Badgers and create space to pull off the comeback.
With the win, Nebraska is now tied with Ohio State for second place in the Big Ten standings, and will test its “#RoadWarrior” mentality if the Huskers want to build another winning streak. Next up is Michigan State, who is coming off an upset of No. 22 Michigan, before NU will travel to Indiana next Saturday.