Nebraska women’s basketball started 2023 off with a situation that’s been familiar this season — an overtime matchup against a quality opponent.
The Huskers, just four days removed from a loss against No. 14 Michigan, looked to give No. 4 Indiana a second straight loss against a conference opponent. They started well on that mission, leading at the end of the first and third quarters.
But the Hoosiers, led by 22 points from Mackenzie Holmes and a big-time free throw advantage, went back-and-forth with Nebraska throughout the game and final quarter. The last points of regulation were a Sydney Parrish layup with 1:54 left that tied the game at 62.
Unlike the 2022 wins over Mississippi State or triple overtime victory over No. 20 Kansas, the Huskers fell short to No. 4 Indiana in the extra period, failing to score a single point.
For such a close game, there were a number of statistical discrepancies to illustrate the stylistic differences of the overtime battle.
The most notable may have been the aforementioned free throw differential. The Hoosiers shot 30 times from the line, the 24 makes accounting for nearly a third of their points, while the Huskers had just nine free throw attempts and five makes.
Indiana was aggressive in attacking Nebraska’s frontcourt, putting players like Alexis Markowski, Maggie Mendelson and Isabelle Bourne in foul trouble at various points. The Hoosiers drew 21 foul calls, while only being whistled for 10 themselves.
That played a major part in sending the game to overtime. Of the regulation periods, Nebraska’s four fourth-quarter fouls were less than the five in each quarter before, but three came in a span of under 75 seconds. Down a single point, Indiana’s Chloe Moore-McNeil drew back-to-back shooting fouls on Jaz Shelley and Sam Haiby, making three of those four shots. The miss was on the last one, which ended up in a jump ball on the fight for the rebound. The possession went back to Indiana, which Holmes used to draw a third foul on Markowski and put the Hoosiers up three by splitting the free throws.
After that, the Huskers struck back with their advantage — the 3-point shot. Sam Haiby hit one from the corner to tie it back up, one of the final buckets prior to overtime. Nebraska shot 9-for-21 from deep in regulation, compared to Indiana’s mark of 2-for-14 in that time. This included a few more major shots, like Husker freshman guard Callin Hake’s stepback three to give her team the lead entering the last quarter.
Indiana’s advantages eventually won out, however. The lack of foul calls didn’t equate to less defensive aggressiveness, as the Hoosiers forced 21 turnovers and blocked seven shots. Holmes had five rejections, and Moore-McNeil had five of the team’s 12 steals.
They brought pressure in the post and trapped ballhandlers on the perimeter with double teams, sometimes forcing travels and sometimes just ripping the ball away. Husker guards threw errant passes out of bounds on multiple occasions, whether due to miscommunication or unfortunate aim.
The Hoosier defense reached its peak in the overtime period. The first six Husker possessions featured three turnovers and three shots that didn’t touch the rim. Meanwhile, Indiana slowly extended its lead throughout the final five minutes, hitting a three, a layup and four free throws to bring the advantage to nine. Nebraska didn’t foul on its final defensive possession, allowing the Hoosiers to take the clock down as much as they could before hitting one more three.
For the Huskers, Bourne led the way with 15 points, followed by 10 each from Haiby, Markowski and Hake. Jaz Shelley had her worst statistical showing since the loss to Virginia Tech, scoring five points on 11 shots and turning it over six times. Still, she collected seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Nebraska’s played six top 25 opponents now this season, with a record of 2-4 against them. After the past three consecutive games against ranked foes, the Huskers will have a relatively lighter matchup on Jan. 7 against Rutgers on the road.