Nebraska held one of the Big Ten’s leading scorers in check for 39:30 seconds on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, college basketball games are 40 minutes long.
With the game tied and less than 30 seconds to go, No. 19 Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam got to her spot, rose up and buried a mid-range jumper to give the Wildcats a 58-56 lead with 28 seconds to play.
It was her first field goal of the game; she had missed the previous 12.
Out of a Nebraska timeout, Northwestern used its foul to give with 17 seconds left, leading to a rest for Nebraska. The Huskers couldn’t get anything going after that and Ashtyn Veerbeek got called for an offensive foul while trying to make something happen with about 5 seconds to play.
Northwestern got the ball in to Pulliam and Nebraska put her at the line. She hit both to seal the 60-56 victory.
The Wildcats ended the game on a 9-0 run after Nebraska lead for nearly 30 minutes. A tough turn-around jumper from just inside the free-throw line gave the Huskers a 56-51 lead with just over three minutes to play, but Nebraska never scored again.
Northwestern got an easy look at the rim, then Nebraska missed twice on the following possession. Jordan Hamilton got lose for a 3-pointer to tie it up for Nebraska, then Sam Haiby’s attempt at an answer from the right wing wasn’t close.
Brown knocked the ball loose and Kate Cain secured it for a Northwestern turnover and Nebraska called timeout with just under 1 minute to play. Out of the break, the Huskers executed well and got Cain wide open under the basket, but instead of going up for the shot she tried to pass it across the lane to Veerbeek and a Northwestern defender picked it off, leading to Pulliam’s go-ahead jumper.
Nebraska held the Wildcats (22-3, 12-2 Big Ten) to 28.8% from the field. The Wildcats’ top three scorers — Puliam, Abi Scheid and Abbie Wolf — combined for 22 points on 7-of-36 shooting. But Veronica Burton went off for 21 points on 5-of-11 from the field (2-of-4 from 3) and 9-of-9 from the line.
After shooting 51.9% from the field in the first half, the Huskers (16-10, 6-9) went cold in the second and finished at 43.1% for the game with 15 turnovers.
Brown led Nebraska with 14 points on 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from the line but the turn-around jumper was her only bucket in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats bottled her up on the play that ended in Verbeek’s offensive foul.
Despite the late turnover, Cain was a force on both ends with 12 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks and four steals. With her fourth block, she surpassed her mother’s career total for blocks. Alison (Martinsky) Cain was a standout player at Fairfield where she ended her career second in school go story with 268 blocks. Kate has 272 career blocks with three regular season games to go in her junior season.
Veerbeek was Nebraska’s third-leading scorer but only two of her nine points came in the second half.
Northwestern used a 7-0 run to pull ahead 16-11 in the first quarter but the Huskers responded with nine straight spanning the first and second quarters to pull ahead 20-16, and the Huskers maintained their lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
Nebraska led 33-29 and opened the second half with a bucket by Cain and a three-point play by Nicea Eliely to take its largest lead of the game at 38-29. However, the Wildcats clawed back into it to make it a one-score game at 44-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Huskers scored the first four points of the final period but Northwestern used a 7-0 run to take its first lead since the first quarter at 49-48. The Huskers used an 8-2 run to take the 56-51 lead before letting it slip away.
Next up for Nebraska is a trip to Ohio State on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT on BTN+ and the Husker Sports Network.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.