The Nebraska women’s basketball team narrowly escaped an upset Thursday night with a 55-50 win over Northwestern, despite not scoring a field goal for the final seven minutes and 26 seconds.
The Huskers almost gave up a 15 point lead in the final eight minutes, but free throws by All-American candidates Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore closed the game out. Nebraska improved to 17-6 (7-3 in the Big Ten) and won their fifth straight game.
“I knew it wasn’t over,” Yori said after the game. “Northwestern came back down 15 against Iowa to win, and earlier in the season they came back down 19 and made it a game, so I knew they would make a comeback at some point.”
Northwestern’s Lauren Douglas led the Wildcats with 14 points and 6 rebounds, and was helped by Maggie Lyon, who had 12 points and two assists. Northwestern (11-12, 3-7) has now lost five of their Big Ten games by less than 10 points.
Lindsey Moore knocked down two free throws with 17.4 seconds remaining to put the game at 53-48, sealing the win for Nebraska. Moore made Husker history twice Thursday, the first time for starting her 121st straight game, more than any other basketball player, and she also surpassed 1,500 career points. Moore finished with 16 points and four steals.
Hooper also surpassed 1,500 career points in the Husker win, and finished with a game high 19 points and 7 rebounds. Yori was glad she had Hooper to rely on down the stretch.
“Jordan shot the ball well early and made free throws and had a big rebound late, which was huge,” Yori said. “Yeah, we kinda like Jordan on our team.”
It was an offensive struggle for both teams in the first half, each team shooting below 30 percent from the floor. Hooper began the half with a three and a jumper, pulling Nebraska out to a 5-0 lead in the first minute.
From there, the teams traded baskets for most of the half, until Emily Cady hit two free throws to finally extend Nebraska’s lead to 17-13. High pressure defense from T’era Laudermill and Moore kept Northwestern at a safe distance, and held the Wildcats to shooting just 21 percent (7-32). Hooper led Nebraska with seven points in the half, and Hailie Sample had seven rebounds to help Nebraska out to a 25-17 lead.
Both teams heated up in the second half, Nebraska especially, who went on a 10-2 run and extended their lead to 15 by the 13 minute mark. But Nebraska’s inability to score and Northwestern’s transition offense made it a game that came down to free throws and stops.
“The bottom line is, it’s a W,” Yori said. “You aren’t always going to win pretty. It wasn’t ideal. Sometimes you have to find ways to win in different ways, and tonight, it was with defense and field goals.”
Nebraska’s defense held a team in the 50s for the third straight game, and Hooper says she’s loving the Husker’s new strategy, playing both zone and man.
“I really like it,” Hooper said. “We just run around as hard as we can. We’re aggressive with it, and if you’re aggressive with things, things work out.”
Just over the mid-way point in the Big Ten season, Yori says her players are tired, but likes the direction things are headed.
“Bottom line is, it’s not always gonna be pretty,” Yori said. “It’s a long season. Our kids are tired, that’s normal. And it’s not that Northwestern wasn’t tough tonight, they were, we were just a little bit tougher.”