Rachel Theriot and Tear’a Laudermill played nearly flawless second halves to lead No. 18 Nebraska to a 66-65 women’s basketball win over Northwestern at Pinnacle Bank Arena Thursday night.
The Huskers improved to 11-2 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, while the Wildcats slipped to 10-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
Theriot, a 6-0 sophomore point guard from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, produced game highs of 19 points and eight assists, while adding six rebounds, two steals and a block while playing the full 40 minutes.
She scored nine of Nebraska’s final 14 points in the game, including a pair of late-shot clock buzzer-beaters to power the Huskers to their fifth consecutive victory.
Her first buzzer-beater came with a long three from the left wing, which she described as a “floater” but looked a little like a hook shot from 27 feet. The shot with 8:28 left gave Nebraska a 55-52 lead. She hit another jump shot on the Huskers’ next possession to cap a 9-0 Big Red run that turned a 52-48 deficit into a 57-52 lead with 7:57 left in the game.
After Theriot gave Nebraska its biggest lead of the night at 61-54 with 6:13 left, the young Wildcats responded with the an 11-0 surge for the biggest run of the game to take a 65-61 lead with 2:48 left on a pair of Christen Inman free throws. Inman finished with a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats.
Then Laudermill, who led Nebraska with 10 second-half points, knocked down a huge three-pointer from the left wing to end the Wildcat run and trim the Northwestern lead to 65-64 with 2:19 left. Laudermill finished with 14 points while matching her career high with five assists.
After a Nebraska stop, Theriot hit the game’s final shot with 1:31 left to give the Huskers a 66-65 lead. The two defenses shut each other out the rest of the way, as Theriot grabbed the game’s final defensive rebound to seal the win.
Theriot and Laudermill had a hand in each of Nebraska’s 12 second-half field goals. The only points they didn’t directly contribute to were Jordan Hooper’s two free throws with 7:24 left. Hooper finished with her seventh double-double of the season and 33rd of her career with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Theriot and Laudermill combined for 19 points, seven assists and two steals on 7-of-14 shooting in the second half without committing a turnover. Emily Cady added four points, five rebounds and three assists in the second half, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds on the night.
Nebraska committed a season-best eight turnovers on the night against a Wildcat team who entered the game forcing 21.2 turnovers with 10.8 steals per game. The Huskers won the turnover battle 13-8, and the battle on the boards, 41-39.
The Big Red attempted 12 more field goals (71-59) in the game, but both teams hit 27, as Northwestern finished 45.8 percent from the field. Nebraska shot just 38 percent for the game, its worst mark in a win this season. Both teams struggled from long range, with Nebraska going 4-for-20 and Northwestern 4-for-21. The Huskers outscored the Wildcats 8-7 at the free throw line, providing the difference in the game.
Nia Coffey had 16 points and nine rebounds for Northwestern, while Lauren Douglas scored all 13 of her points in the second half off the bench for the Wildcats.
In an entertaining first half, the two teams were tied at 35. Northwestern jumped out to an early seven-point lead in the first eight minutes, before the Huskers rallied with five straight points from Hooper to regain a 23-21 lead with 6:35 left in the half. Hooper finished the half with 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting.
Northwestern answered to push its lead back to 31-27 lead on Christen Inman’s three-pointer from the quarter with 2:50 left. Inman led all scorers in the first half with 11.
Nebraska rallied again, as Theriot knocked down a leaner just inside the free throw line on the Huskers’ final possession to tie the game at 35. Theriot matched Hooper with 10 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, while adding four assists, three rebounds, a block and a steal.
The Big Red opened the game just 2-for-9 but rallied to hit 40.5 percent (15-37) of their first-half shots, including 1-of-6 threes. The Huskers also hit 4-of-6 free throws. Nebraska outrebounded the Wildcats 22-17, while winning the turnover battle 8-6.
Northwestern opened the game hot, hitting 5-of-8 shots before settling in to hit 15-of-31 shots (48.4 percent) for the half. The Cats also hit 3-of-12 three-pointers and 2-of-4 free throws.
Nebraska hits the road for the first time in Big Ten play by traveling to Michigan State on Thursday, Jan. 9. Tip-off at the Breslin Center is set for 6 p.m. (CT).