Hannah Whitish led the way with 19 points, forward Maddie Simon added 16 points on a perfect shooting performance off the bench, and Nebraska (13-14, 8-8 Big Ten) held off a fourth-quarter Northwestern charge for a 71-64 win on the road.
Nebraska led 60-44 after three quarters and stretched the lead to as much as 17 points early in the fourth quarter, but a 13-0 run over a span of just 2:11 erased the Huskers cushion and changed the complexion of the game. With 6:51 to play, Nebraska’s lead was just four points.
The Wildcats added a free throw with 4:59 left to pull within one possession at 63-60.
But Whitish hit a jumper 15 seconds later to make it a two-possession game again. The two teams then went scoreless for the next 3:28 before a Sam Haiby layup made it 67-60. Northwestern went 4:07 without a point and hit one shot from the floor over the final 6:50 of the game.
That proved to be too much for the Wildcats to overcome.
Whitish, a junior point guard, led another hot shooting night from beyond the arc for the Huskers, connecting on 5-of-8 from deep. As a team, Nebraska drilled 10 triples (56 percent shooting) and shot 50 percent from the field.
Simon, a 6-2 senior forward from Lincoln, went a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor (2-for-2 from 3). Haiby, a freshman guard, added 11 to give NU three players in double figures scoring.
The Huskers were out-rebounded (34-30) and lost the turnover battle (13-10), but effectively stifled the Northwestern offense for most of the evening. The Wildcats shot just 38 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. Star forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while guard Lindsey Pulliam added 14 points on 21 shots (5-for-21 from the floor).
The win gets Nebraska back to .500 in conference play with two games left to play. Big news because Thursday was incredibly kind to the Huskers, who entered the day No. 10 in the Big Ten standings. Nebraska sat just two games back of Michigan for the No. 4 seed, with Minnesota, Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State all sitting at 8-7 and Michigan State at 7-7.
Minnesota (8-8), Purdue (8-8) Northwestern (8-8) and Michigan State (7-8) all lost Thursday. Ohio State won to move to 9-7. Nebraska owns head-to-head tiebreakers over Minnesota, Purdue and Michigan State while Thursday night’s win ensured a season series split with the Wildcats.
The Huskers stand at No. 6 in the conference currently.
Nebraska returns to Lincoln for its final regular-season home game on Monday night when the Huskers take on No. 10 Iowa (21-6, 12-4 Big Ten) on BTN. Tip on Senior Night is set for 7:30 p.m. CT. Nebraska will honor Simon, the lone senior, with an on-court ceremony at Pinnacle Bank Arena following the game.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.