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Rising rival Purdue trumps NU women’s basketball in overtime

  • Kyle Cummings
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If there is one team in the Big Ten that has produced a rivalry with Nebraska so far, it’s the Purdue Boilermakers.

The Nebraska women’s basketball team faced Purdue twice last year: once in West Lafayette, Ind., and the other in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. Nebraska snuck by Purdue in the first match-up – 93-89 in a triple-overtime thriller – but were turned away in the rematch, 74-70, after two more overtime periods to give Purdue the Big Ten title.

Once again on Saturday afternoon, Nebraska and Purdue provided another close call. No. 14 Purdue hung on to a 69-66 overtime win against No. 25 Nebraska.

“I think it’s in a contract that we have to go into overtime with Purdue,” Lindsey Moore said after the game.

Moore finished with 22 points in the game and played all 45 minutes, a season-high.

“Both teams just grinded it out,” she said. “It’s always a really fun game when it comes to Purdue, so I definitely think it’s becoming a little bit of a rivalry.”

With just more than a minute to go in regulation, Dee Dee Williams knocked down a pair of free throws to put Purdue up 59-53. With Nebraska’s offensive woes, the game looked all but over. But the Huskers found a little life after Jordan Hooper nailed a three to make it a one-possession game on the Huskers’ ensuing possession.

Purdue guard and Lincoln native KK Houser was unable to capitalize on her chance at the free throw line, providing Nebraska a final shot to tie the game. Hooper again delivered for the Huskers, hitting her second 3-pointer within 30 seconds to send the game to overtime.

Purdue proved to be just a tad too much, fending off Nebraska by three in the extra period.

For most of the first half, Nebraska struggled offensively, as they did not make a shot from the field for the first eight and a half minutes of the game. By then, the Huskers were down 13-4. But for as cold as the Huskers were shooting in the first half, their defense kept the game within reach.

In an offense-lacking first half, Nebraska needed a spark. They found that spark in sophomore guard Brandi Jeffery. Along with six points within three minutes, Jeffery’s heads-up hustle plays and key assists pushed Nebraska within one point as the half ran down.

“Look at the beginning of the game and we could have been down by 25,” Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said. “The good news about that period is that it’s easy defensively to let down when you’re not making shots, and we didn’t. We still competed hard enough to keep us in the game.”

While the Huskers leaned heavily on their solid defense throughout the first half, they were able to shut down almost everything Purdue threw their way – except Boilermaker senior forward Sam Ostarello. Ostarello found her rhythm early in the game and never left her groove.

“(Ostarello) hit some really tough shots. She really was the difference from them,” Yori said. “Nineteen rebounds, I’d say that probably makes a difference.”

With a crowd of family in attendance, Ostarello was in her own zone, she said.

“The (zone) where you don’t see anyone but your team out there,” Ostarello said following her 17-point, 19-rebound game. “Especially when I was rebounding, I didn’t see anybody, unless it was my own player.”

Ostarello’s 19 total rebounds are a career high and the highest overall at Purdue since 1981. Ostarello’s 17-point double-double matched team-high scorers Courtney Moses and Drey Mingo to help seal the Boilermakers’ second Big Ten victory.

With the loss, Nebraska drops to 11-4, while Purdue, now first in the Big Ten, improves to 13-2.

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