It took overtime for the No. 18 Nebraska women’s basketball team to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 88-85 on Thursday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Huskers’ senior forward Jordan Hooper passed a career milestone in the competition, scoring more than 2,000 points in her collegiate career.
“Once I hit it and the fans kind of cheered me on, it was cool,” Hooper said.
But the scoring was a challenge for both teams to open the game.
The Husker squad missed its first four shots. The first points for the Huskers came from sophomore guard Rachel Theriot on a 3-pointer.
The Gophers came out of the gates with a relentless passing in the offensive zone that gave the squad open looks. The squad struggled to convert on the uncontested shots.
With 11 minutes to play in the first half, the score was knotted at 10.
The Gophers entered the bonus with 6:40 left in the half on a foul on Theriot. Minnesota’s senior guard Sari Noga put her squad up by 7 after making one of her two free throws.
The Huskers managed to cut the deficit down to 2 after Theriot put away her two chances at the charity line to make the score 25-23.
The Gophers would improve on its lead by one with a halftime score of 32-29.
Minnesota’s junior guard Rachel Banham led the game in scoring at the midway point with 16 points. She went 4-of-8 from behind the arc in the first half.
Theriot lead the Huskers with 12 points, while juniors Tear’a Laudermill and Emily Cady controlled the boards with 6 rebounds apiece.
Just more than six minutes into the second half, the Gophers surged ahead to put together a 14-point lead after Banham recorded her fifth 3-pointer of the night.
With just 3:54 left in the game, Theriot drained an open jumper from the elbow to bring the deficit down to one at 68-67. This forced Minnesota to use a timeout, as the crowd at the Pinnacle Bank Arena erupted in a uproar.
After Theriot sank both free throw attempts with 2:31 remaining, the match was tied at 73.
“My team needs me, and I step up,” Theriot said. “Whatever happens happens.”
The crowd let out a thunderous roar just moments later when Cady sank a shot from downtown to give the Huskers a 3-point lead.
“Honestly, nothing really went through my head,” Cady said. “I just shot it, and hoped it went in. When it did, I was just thinking, ‘What’s next?’”
Banham tied the game on a 3 with just 9 seconds left in the game, and after a desperation shot missed by Theriot, the game went to overtime.
Overtime was a back-and-forth affair, with the Huskers holding the slim advantage for the majority of the five minutes.
The Gophers had a chance to tie the game with a last-second 3, but the shot came up short, and the Huskers walked away with the win.
“Easy one that we could’ve lost,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. “Our players were tough, and I thought the crowd affected the game. You know, you’re down as far as we were down, and you don’t really expect to win that game.”
With 33 points and 8 assists, Banham was the driving force behind the Gophers’ offense. Redshirt freshman Amanda Zahui led Minnesota on the boards with 11 rebounds.
The Huskers’ scoring was led by Theriot with 33 points, and Cady finished with 23. Hooper notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.