The Nebraska women’s basketball team suffered another crushing defeat, this time losing at the buzzer 70-69 to the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday.
Nebraska started out strong in a slow first quarter. With 4:23 left in the first, Wisconsin senior forward Marsha Howard hit a jumper to tie the game at 7-7. From there, Nebraska went on a 7-1 run capped by a jumper from freshman forward Leigha Brown to take a 14-8 lead into the second period.
Nebraska held the Badgers to 27.3 percent shooting in the quarter and forced five turnovers. The Huskers also turned the ball over five times and only shot 33.3 percent. Five offensive rebounds by Nebraska turned into three second-chance points, which helped the Huskers take the lead.
The Huskers’ lead only grew in the second quarter. Midway through the period, with Nebraska leading 23-15, sophomore guard Taylor Kissinger missed a three pointer, but freshman guard Sam Haiby grabbed the offensive rebound and got it back to Kissinger, who hit the subsequent three-pointer.
The next possession, Howard hit a mid-range jumper to answer and increase her scoring total to eight points. However, Kissinger would not be outdone. She hit a layup on Nebraska’s next possession and followed it up with another three-pointer after a Wisconsin miss to cap an 8-2 run. This gave Nebraska a 14-point lead — its largest of the game.
By the end of the half, Nebraska led 39-27. The Huskers dominated the boards again in the second quarter, a rare occurrence this year, and turned six offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points. In the first half, Nebraska outrebounded Wisconsin 23-15, including 11-4 on the offensive glass. The Huskers forced 10 turnovers as well, led by three steals from junior guard Nicea Eliely.
Despite the 12-point deficit, Wisconsin shot well in the first half. The Badgers shot 45.8 percent, while the Huskers only shot 41.6 percent. Nebraska’s three-point shooting made a difference, as they converted five first-half shots from distance. Wisconsin did not make a single three in the half, going 0-4.
Kissinger and junior guard Hannah Whitish led the Huskers in scoring in the first half with eight and nine points, respectively. For the Badgers, Howard led the team with 10 points at the half.
Wisconsin started to mount its comeback early in the third quarter. Less than a minute into the quarter, Nebraska sophomore center Kate Cain hit a jumper to bring the Nebraska lead to 14 points. The Badgers then went on a 10-2 run, capped by an and-one layup from freshman forward Imani Lewis to cut the score to 45-39. In the last four minutes of the quarter, Wisconsin went on an 8-2 run, which included six points from junior forward Abby Laszewski.
The Huskers led 51-49 going into the final quarter. Despite Wisconsin’s push, Nebraska seemed to be unfazed, starting the quarter on a 12-4 run to extend its lead to 63-53.
With just 4:18 left to go, Nebraska senior forward Maddie Simon hit two free throws, giving Nebraska a 67-57 lead. This would be the start of a four-minute scoring drought for the Huskers.
Wisconsin took advantage of Nebraska’s inability to score down the stretch. The Badgers’ run started with Lewis making a jumper, followed by a Howard layup with 3:24 left. After another Nebraska miss, Wisconsin had the ball with a chance to make it a four-point game.
The Badgers missed a three-pointer, but Lewis was there to get the offensive rebound. Eventually, the possession ended with Wisconsin senior guard Kelly Karlis, who had been relatively quiet all game with just three points, being sent to the line.
Karlis hit both free throws to bring the score to 67-63 with 2:37 left. Brown turned it over on the next Nebraska possession, but the Badgers gave it right back after an illegal screen. Nebraska still could not capitalize, as Whitish had the ball stolen from her on the ensuing possession.
This led to Wisconsin sophomore guard Niya Beverley hitting a floater to make it a one-score game.
The Badgers had all the momentum on both sides of the ball and showed it on Nebraska’s next possession. Eliely went to the rim for a layup, but Howard blocked the shot.
Now, Wisconsin had the opportunity to finally come back and tie the game. Beverly shot a three-pointer and missed, but Nebraska couldn’t come up with the rebound yet again as Howard grabbed it. She got the ball back to Beverly, who was fouled and sent to the line. She buried both free throws, tying the game with 1:01 left on the clock.
Nebraska turned the ball over again on its next possession, but Karlis lost the ball and picked up a foul for the Badgers to give the Huskers the ball again with 17 seconds left.
After using its final two timeouts, Nebraska got the ball into Whitish. With under 10 seconds left, Whitish went right and handed the ball off to Eliely, who came around to the top of the key. Eliely then drove in right away and finished at the basket with 0.7 seconds left for what looked like the game winner.
Out of their final timeout, the Badgers needed a miracle to win. Although they were down two, 0.7 seconds likely wasn’t enough time for Wisconsin to get inside and tie the game. Beverly was set to inbound from halfcourt, and Wisconsin was without a timeout if they weren’t able to find an open pass.
Beverly spent around three seconds frantically looking to find someone open before she passed to a well-guarded Karlis in the corner. Karlis launched a three-pointer over Eliely, which dropped in as the buzzer sounded to give Wisconsin the miracle victory.
Nebraska led for a majority of the game and held the lead for the entire third quarter and the majority of the fourth.
The Badgers ended the game on a 13-2 run during the last four minutes. Karlis only ended with eight points but had four steals and scored the most important basket of the game.
Howard and Lewis led the scoring charge for Wisconsin with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Kissinger led Nebraska in scoring with 15 points, while Cain, Whitish and Eliely also scored in double figures. Eliely also had five steals in the game.
Wisconsin shot 48.2 percent for the game and ended up winning the rebound battle 34-33. Nebraska shot 44.3 percent, including 30.4 percent from distance.
Nebraska will try to snap its two-game losing streak in its next game, as the Huskers will take on Purdue on the road on Thursday at 7 p.m.