It’s been a rough two weeks for Nebraska women’s basketball since its loss to Creighton on Dec. 14. The team lost by 36 to Indiana, before suffering an 11-point defeat against Purdue to drop to 3-3 on the year.
However, despite the three-game losing streak, the Huskers found a way to bounce back as they took down No. 15 Northwestern 65-63 on a last-second buzzer beater from junior guard Sam Haiby.
Haiby led the team in scoring with 19 points on 8-of-20 shooting, going 2-of-6 from 3-point range. She also had eight rebounds, one of which was an offensive rebound after her own shot that led to the game-winner.
“There were a lot of suggestions, but we decided to go low and put the ball in Sam’s hands,” head coach Amy Williams said postgame. “She was aggressive there at the end and it was a miraculous put-back play to give us the win.”
Sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne and sophomore guard Ashley Scoggin were right behind Haiby in scoring, both having 11 points. Bourne also had 10 rebounds in the game. Senior center Kate Cain led the Huskers in rebounds with 11.
As a team, Nebraska led in multiple important statistical categories. The Huskers outrebounded Northwestern 47-35, had 18 second-chance points to the Wildcats’ 12, and shot better from the field, including hitting 9-of-20 3-pointers.
“We were much more relentless on the boards today,” Williams said. “I’m proud of the adversity we fought through. Isabelle [Bourne] just adjusts to whatever we throw at her. She’s a leader, she finds ways to help, if she can’t score, she’ll rebound and make plays.”
The Huskers came out in the first quarter swinging as they prevented themselves from falling behind the Wildcats with some back-and-forth action.
Nebraska came into the second quarter trailing 21-19, but picked up 16 more rebounds to stay right behind Northwestern. Freshman guard Whitney Brown also had a good quarter, dropping back-to-back 3-pointers to tie up the game at 34. Those would end up being Brown’s only points in the game. The last four minutes of the second quarter were a defensive bout as only six points were scored, with Northwestern accounting for four of them. The Wildcats headed into the break up 38-36.
Scoring slowed in the third quarter, which ended up working to Nebraska’s advantage. The Huskers outscored Northwestern 13-7 in the period, giving them a 49-45 lead.
The Huskers attempted to pull away in the final period as they built up a 56-47 lead with under seven minutes left. Northwestern wouldn’t go away quietly, as they came back and forced a tie at 61 thanks to seven Husker turnovers and Haiby being out for a four-minute stretch with a cramp.
Northwestern forced 24 total turnovers in the game, which kept the score close despite the Wildcats’ lackluster shooting.
After Haiby returned to the court, she helped break the tie as she bulldozed through the right lane and converted a layup to put the Huskers up 63-61. The Wildcats then tied it up again on a layup of their own with under a minute left. After a possession by each team, Haiby drove into the paint as the clock winded down and put up a shot that missed. Haiby then jumped up, rebounded her shot and tossed it back up as the buzzer sounded to win the game for the Huskers 65-63.
“Thank god for the athletic trainer to get Sam back in the game and help her work through those cramps,” Williams said. “We knew Northwestern would take advantage of that, but I thought we did enough to hold them off until Sam came back.”
This is Nebraska’s first win over a ranked team since its win over Minnesota in January of last season. This win also brings the Huskers’ conference record back up to .500 with a 2-2 record. Nebraska’s next game is at home against conference opponent Rutgers on Jan. 3. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.