By Tommy Rezac
The Nebraska softball team pounded out 13 hits in an 11-1 five-inning victory over Creighton Wednesday night at Bowlin Stadium. The Huskers scored all 11 of their runs and collected 10 of their 13 hits with two outs, while scoring double-digit runs for the 17th time this season. Nebraska improved to 26-19 on the season with its 13th run-rule win of the season.
NU jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the first inning on back-to-back homers from junior Alicia Armstrong and senior Steph Pasquale. Nebraska then exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the second. Creighton got a run back with an unearned run in the top of the third before Nebraska kept up its two-out scoring in the bottom of the frame. A third Bluejay error allowed another run to score as Nebraska took an 11-1 lead.
Armstrong was 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs, while Pasquale also homered as part of a 2-for-3 day. Sydnee Eck (9-7) took the loss for the Creighton, which fell to 20-15 on the season.
Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue are the top four seeds in the 2015 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, the conference office announced on Sunday night. The 18th annual event will be contested from March 11-15 at the United Center in Chicago, and will feature a five-day format for the first time. The top-four seeds received first- and second-round byes into Friday’s quarterfinals.
The Huskers, the #12 seed, will face 13th seeded Penn State in the first game on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. CT.
After winning the outright Big Ten Championship for the first time since 2008 with a 16-2 conference record, Wisconsin is the tournament’s top seed and will open play at 11 a.m. CT in Friday’s quarterfinals. Second-seeded Maryland completed its first season in the Big Ten with a 14-4 record. The Terrapins will begin their first Big Ten Tournament on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue finished the year with matching 12-6 marks, but the Spartans posted a combined 2-0 record against the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers, and claimed the No. 3 seed. Purdue earned the fourth seed with a 1-1 record among the three teams, while Iowa is the No. 5 seed with an 0-2 mark in the group. Michigan State will open play in Friday’s quarterfinals at approximately 8 p.m., while Purdue will get underway at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Iowa will open play in Thursday’s second round beginning at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Ohio State earned the No. 6 seed with an 11-7 conference record, and will begin tournament play at approximately 8 p.m. in Thursday’s second round. Illinois and Indiana completed the Big Ten season with identical 9-9 records. The Hoosiers earned the No. 7 seed due their head-to-head win over the Illini in January, while Illinois claimed the No. 8 seed. Indiana will open play against No. 10 Northwestern on Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m., while Illinois will take on ninth-seeded Michigan at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Big Ten Tournament semifinal games will be played on Saturday beginning at Noon CT. The championship game tips off at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday. Every Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament game will be nationally televised with coverage from CBS Sports, ESPN or ESPN2 and BTN. Since the event’s inception in 1998, every tournament contest has been televised.
Six different programs have won the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State and Michigan State have each claimed four official titles. Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin have each won the championship twice, and Purdue has won the tournament once.
Ally Disterhoft led a balanced attack with 16 points and No. 14 Iowa, the second-seed, turned back seventh-seeded Nebraska 74-65 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday.
Tear’a Laudermill led the Cornhuskers with 16 points, Emily Cady added 15 and Natalie Romeo and Brandi Jeffery had 14 each.
Iowa led 36-33 at halftime and scored the first five points of the second half before Peschel scored the last five points in a 9-0 run for a 53-38 lead with 14:05 to play.
Nebraska (21-10) got within seven at the 7:30 mark and cut it to six and five in the final minute before Disterhoft and Melissa Dixon combined for four free throws to close it out.
No. 8 Penn State used a 33-10 run in an eight-minute stretch to beat the Nebraska women’s basketball team, 78-58 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Nebraska slipped to 12-5 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten. Emily Cady scored 17 points and nine rebounds, Jordan Hooper finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Lindsey Moore added 11 points and five assists. Nebraska hit just 31.4 percent (22-70) from the field for the game, including just 5-of-25 three-pointers.
Penn State was 8-for-18 from beyond the arc. The Lady Lions also hit 12-of-16 free throws. All-America candidates Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas each scored 19 points and combined for eight steals to lead Penn State’s pressure defense. Ariel Edwards added 15 points and six rebounds off the bench.
“There’s a reason why Penn State is top 10 team,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “They have five really good players at all five spots. Their defense was good today and they hit some shots. Alex Bentley was frankly Alex Bentley today. I thought she played great all over the floor and set the tone for them. But we have to play better and can’t make as many mistakes as we made today.”
The Huskers return home to take on Illinois on Thursday night at the Devaney Center. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Fighting Illini is set for 7:05 p.m.