No. 3 Nebraska overcame its largest second-half deficit of the season to turn a 53-48 deficit with eight minutes left into a 67-60 win at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
With the victory, Nebraska remained one of only two unbeaten teams in the nation at 22-0 while improving to 9-0 in the Big 12 Conference. The Huskers, who led 30-20 at halftime, watched Kansas hit its first 11 shots of the second half to surge to a lead. KU’s 43-41 lead with 13:30 left marked Nebraska’s first deficit in the second half since trailing No. 9 Baylor, 50-48, with 8:23 left in Waco, Texas, on Jan. 17.
“That is a great win for our team,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “I’m really excited about the way we won the game. We haven’t really had to win that way before. We haven’t really had to come back late game on the road and find a way to win the game. I’m excited for our players because they found a way to win against a team that made almost every shot in the second half.”
All-America candidate Kelsey Griffin overcame first-half foul trouble to produce her Big 12-leading 12th double-double of the year with 17 points and 13 rebounds in just 26 minutes. The 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, added a pair of steals and a block to help the Huskers extend the longest winning streak in school history while improving to 10-0 on the road this year, including 5-0 in the Big 12.
Senior guard Yvonne Turner continued her torrid league play with 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers, to go along with four rebounds, two steals and an assist. Junior guard Dominique Kelley added 14 points, including 11 in the second half, despite hit just 3-of-14 shots from the field on the night. She added seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. Cory Montgomery added eight points and four rebounds, along with a big steal late in the game, while Catheryn Redmon pitched in seven points, three boards, two blocks and a steal off the bench to help the Huskers.
Freshman point guard Lindsey Moore also made big plays down the stretch, recording all three of her career-high matching three steals in the final eight minutes, while adding four points and six assists on the night. The 5-9 native of Covington, Wash., increased her season assist total to 103, becoming the first Huskers with 100 assists in a since since 2005-06.
Trailing 53-49 coming out of the eight-minute media timeout in the second half, Nebraska got three straight defensive stops without allowing a shot to regain the lead. Turner got the first with her steal from LaChelda Jacobs and a layup to make it 53-51 with 7:45 left. Moments later, Montgomery came up with a steal and Redmon converted with a layup at the other end to tie the game at 53, before Moore came up with the first of her three steals and was fouled at the other end with 6:56 left. Moore made both free throws to give NU the lead back at 55-53 with 6:56 left.
Aishah Sutherland who finished 6-for-6 from the field for 12 points, then hit a baseline jumper to tie the game at 55, before Turner drained her second three of the night off an assist from Moore to give NU a 58-55 lead with 5:38 left, before Griffin converted on a fourth chance inside to give NU a 60-55.
With 1:09 left, Turner hit her final three of the night to push NU’s edge to 64-57, and Kelley hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win. In the final 7:56, Nebraska came up with seven steals to slow KU’s hot-shooting offense, including the final steal of the night by Moore.
The Huskers hit just 33.9 percent (21-62) of their shots from the field, including 4-of-17 three-pointers, while hitting 21-of-31 free throws. Nebraska matched a season high with a plus-10 turnover margin (19-9), while outrebounding the Jayhawks, 37-35.
Kansas, which hit just 26.1 percent of its first-half shots, finished with an opponent season-best 49 percent (24-49) for the game, including 69.2 percent (18-26) in the second half. KU was just 1-for-8 from three-point range, as Nebraska has held its Big 12 road foes to just 8-for-57 combined shooting from long range. The Jayhawks were also 11-for-14 at the line.
In a choppy first half, Nebraska used a strong defensive effort to surge to a 30-20 halftime lead while getting eight points and six rebounds from Griffin in just nine minutes after being forced to the bench with two early fouls.
LaChelda Jacobs gave KU its last lead at 13-12 with 11:38 left in the half, before Nebraska went on a 12-1 run by holding the Jayhawks without a field goal for 7:35. The Huskers took their first double-digit lead at 24-14 after a pair of Montgomery free throws with 4:21 left, while taking their largest lead at 30-19 after a steal and a layup from Turner with 1:06 remaining in the half. Turner finished with seven first-half points, including the lone three-pointer of the half by either team, while Montgomery added six points and three boards.
Nebraska outrebounded KU, 22-19, and won the first-half turnover battle, 10-5. The Huskers hit just 10-of-31 field goal attempts, including just 1-of-6 three-pointers, while knocking down 9-of-13 free throws. NU’s defense held the Jayhawks to just 6-of-23 shooting (26.1 percent), including 0-of-3 three-pointers, while connecting on 8-of-10 free throws. Carolyn Davis, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals, led all scorers with nine points, while adding five rebounds for KU. Davis scored all seven of KU’s points in the final 11:37 of the half, with five of those coming at the line.
Nebraska continues its two-game Big 12 North road swing by traveling to Columbia to take on Missouri on Saturday.