The Huskers, who improved to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten, notched their fourth consecutive victory while handing first-place Purdue its second straight loss. The Boilermakers slipped to 14-4 overall and 5-2 in the conference.
Freshman forward Jessica Shepard led the Huskers with 22 points against constant double and triple teams from Purdue. She scored 10 of Nebraska’s 14 points in the fourth quarter, including an 8-for-9 effort at the free throw line. Shepard had one Nebraska’s two field goals in the final quarter, coming on a layup that she was fouled on with 4:43 left.
She missed that free throw but Kyndal Clark got her third offensive rebound on free throw rebound in the game, and Shepard worked her way back to the line to hit two more free throws to take a 58-50 edge with 4:24 left. Shepard also hit two free throws with 1:48 left to account for the winning point. Shepard finished 7-of-16 from the field and 8-of-11 at the line. She added an assist and two blocks.
Natalie Romeo added 14 points and three rebounds, while hitting 5-of-9 shots, including 2-of-5 threes. Romeo also hit a pair of free throws with 2:21 left after Purdue had trimmed the lead to 58-57 with 2:47 remaining.
Rachel Theriot pitched in a strong effort with eight points and a game-high 12 assists. Allie Havers added eight points, four rebounds, a block and a steal. Havers also got a deflection to disrupt Purdue’s final possession and save the win for the Huskers. Havers’ 17-foot jumper as time expired in the third quarter sent the Big Red to the final period with a 48-36 lead.
Clark added five points and five rebounds, while Rachel Blackburn pitched in five points, including one of two Husker field goals in the fourth, three blocks and a game-high eight rebounds in just 15 minutes off the bench.
Purdue’s April Wilson led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. She added five steals, including four that resulted in breakaway layups to keep Purdue close in a game Nebraska led for more than 35 minutes.
Bridget Perry contributed 13 points and six rebounds for the Boilermakers, while Dominique McBryde added 12 big points and a game-high five blocks in 17 minutes off the bench for Purdue.
Nebraska hit 52.3 percent (23-44) of its shots from the field for the game, including 3-of-7 threes, while knocking down 13-of-17 free throws. The Huskers also outrebounded Purdue, 35-31, but had to overcome a season-high 27 turnovers. Purdue converted NU’s miscues into 25 points, and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 12 points.
Nebraska forced 14 turnovers by the Boilermakers and converted them to 16 points but did not get any points off turnovers in the fourth quarter, while Purdue got 15 in the final period.
Purdue hit just 36.9 percent (24-65) of its shots from the floor, including 3-of-10 threes. The Boilers also hit 10-of-13 free throws.
The Huskers, who led 15-12 at the end of the first quarter, took a 30-21 lead to the locker room at halftime. Nebraska led by as many as 13 points in the first half, opening the second quarter with a 10-0 run. Shepard scored six of the 10 in the first four minutes of the second quarter, and assisted on a Romeo layup that capped the run and put the Big Red up 25-12 with 5:51 left in the half.
Purdue finally found an answer with an 8-0 run of its own thanks to six points from Wilson to trim NU’s lead to 25-19, before a Havers jumper and a Clark three-pointer pushed Nebraska’s lead back to double digits at 30-19 with one minute left in the half.
The Huskers used balanced first-half scoring to take control, as Romeo scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting with one three-pointer. Shepard, Havers and Theriot, who scored Nebraska’s final six points of the first quarter, all had six first-half points.
Nebraska hit 53.8 percent (14-26) of its first-half shots, including 2-of-3 threes. The Huskers also outrebounded Purdue, 19-15 in the first half. The Boilermakers won the turnover battle in the first half, 14-8, but NU outscored Purdue 9-8 off turnovers in the half.
The Boilermakers hit just 29 percent (9-31) of their first-half shots, including 0-for-5 from three-point range. Purdue outscored the Huskers 3-0 at the free throw line in the half.
Nebraska’s lead grew to 12 points at the end of the third quarter after outscoring Purdue 18-15 in the quarter. The Big Red outscored the Boilers 7-1 in the final 3:10 of the quarter, holding Purdue without a field goal for the final 3:30 in the period. Shepard scored six in the third quarter, but Clark, Blackburn, Romeo and Havers combined on NU’s final seven points of the period to send the Big Red to the fourth with a 48-36 lead.
That margin evaporated quickly, as Tiara Murphy opened the quarter with a three before Wilson scored back-to-back layups in transition to cut NU’s edge to 48-43 with 8:41 left. Purdue got the margin to two at 50-48 with a three-pointer from Perry and a driving layup from Andreona Keys with 7:05 left.
But NU’s freshman posts Shepard and Blackburn combined for eight straight points in a 2:30 stretch to push the margin back to eight points at 58-50 with 4:24 play, and the Huskers had enough to hold on for their second ever win at Purdue and their second road win of the season.
Nebraska continues its two-game Big Ten road swing on Sunday when the Huskers travel to Ann Arbor to meet Michigan. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Wolverines is set for 1 p.m.