Huskers Collar Bulldogs in 2OT, 89-84
Des Moines, Iowa – Hannah Whitish tied her career high with 29 points for the second consecutive game, and the Nebraska women’s basketball team won a double-overtime thriller, 89-84 over Drake at the Knapp Center on Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 7-3 overall with its third consecutive victory and third straight win away from home. The Huskers handed the Bulldogs, who advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, just their second home loss in their last 24 games at the Knapp Center. The defending Missouri Valley Conference champion Bulldogs slipped to 5-5 on the season.
Nebraska appeared to have the game won in regulation as Nicea Eliely hit a jumper in the lane clearly before the backboard light and the clock expired after a tipped pass by Kate Cain to her. Eliely’s shot gave Nebraska a temporary 71-69 victory. But following an official review, Nebraska was told that Jasmine Cincore’s inbounds pass was deflected on the sideline and the clock failed to start properly.
The Huskers regrouped and went to their first overtime game of the season, while the Bulldogs went to overtime on their homecourt for the second time in the past three games after a 108-100 quadruple overtime loss to Creighton on Sunday.
Nebraska surged at the start, jumping to a 74-69 lead after back-to-back buckets by Maddie Simon, who finished with a career-high 17 points, and Cain, who notched her third double-double with career highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds to go along with four blocked shots.
Cincore, who gave Nebraska a fourth player in double figures with 12 points, added a free throw before Becca Jonas scored Drake’s first two points of the OT with just 1:49left in the period.
After two points from Whitish at the free throw line with 32.5 seconds left, the Huskers maintained a 76-71 lead. But a three-point play by Becca Hintner and a running, floater near the top of the key for Sammie Bachrodt as time expired sent the game to a second overtime. Bachrodt, who scored 18 points for the Bulldogs, hit buzzer-beating shots at the end of the first, second and third quarters, along with her shot to send it to a second OT.
The young Huskers refused to falter.
The second overtime began with four straight points by Cain to jump to an 80-76 lead, but Cain fouled out with three minutes left. Drake answered with five straight points, before Simon hit the biggest shot of her career with a bucket to give the Big Red an 82-81 lead with 1:30 left.
Nebraska got a stop and Eliely finished at the rim with 41 seconds left to give Nebraska an 84-81 lead. Nebraska got another stop and the Bulldogs were forced to foul. Whitish calmly stepped to the line and sank two free throws to give Nebraska an 86-81 lead with 31.5 left.
Drake drew a foul at the other end and Maddie Monahan made one of two free throws, before Whitish was fouled again with 15.8 left. The sophomore from Barneveld, Wis., calmly sank two more free throws to give Nebraska an 88-82 edge. Whitish, who scored six points in the overtime periods, added a game-high six assists, while adding two steals and a block. Whitish also tied her season high with five three-pointers.
Eliely hit a final free throw for the Big Red to finish with eight points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and two assists.
In the game, Nebraska hit 38.9 percent (35-90) of its shots from the field, including 8-of-31 threes (.258). The Huskers also connected on 11-of-20 free throws, including an 8-for-8 night from Whitish. Twelve of Nebraska’s 20 attempts came in overtime. The Big Red outrebounded the Bulldogs, 58-50, including 27 offensive boards that the Huskers turned into 23 points.
Nebraska dominated the turnover battle, 19-11, and outscored Drake in points off turnovers, 25-14.
The Huskers held Drake to 37.8 percent (28-74) shooting from the field, including 9-of-34 threes (.265). The Bulldogs did hit 19-of-27 free throws (.704), but shot just five free throws in the overtime periods after attempting 22 compared to just eight for Nebraska in regulation.
Brenni Rose led Drake with 20 points, while Hittner contributed a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards.
The Huskers scored the game’s first seven points and opened the first quarter with six consecutive defensive stops to help them to a 10-3 lead, highlighted by back-to-back threes from Whitish. Drake rallied to cut the margin to 16-14 at the end of the first quarter, capped by a last-second 10-foot putback by Bachrodt.
The Big Red again dominated early in the second quarter, surging to their biggest lead at 27-16 after four consecutive makes at the rim by Cain, Simon, Cincore and Eliely.
But Rose answered with a three-pointer to stop Nebraska’s 8-0 run, before Cain picked up her second foul with 5:27 left in the quarter. A flurry of Husker fouls followed and Drake took advantage by hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the final five minutes of the first half. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game at 35-34 with 1:27 left on a pair of Dean free throws, before Bachrodt scored on a layup as time expired to take a 37-34 lead to the locker room at the half.
The Huskers hit 38.5 percent (15-39) of their first-half shots, including 4-of-15 free throws (.267), while going 0-for-2 at the line. Nebraska was outrebounded, 21-20, but won the turnover battle, 10-5. NU outscored Drake, 11-5, in second-chance points and 13-7 in points off turnovers.
The Bulldogs hit 44 percent (11-25) of their shots, including 5-of-10 three-pointers, while going 10-for-14 at the line.
Drake quickly pushed its lead to 39-34 to open the third quarter, but Nebraska responded with a 10-2 surge to take a 44-41 lead. However, Drake rallied to end the quarter with a three-pointer at the buzzer by Bachrodt to take a 54-50 edge to the fourth quarter.
A three-pointer by Monahan to open the quarter gave the Bulldogs a 57-50 lead, but Nebraska responded with a 15-7 surge that included back-to-back three-pointers by Simon and Eliely and a jumper by Whitish to give the Big Red a 65-64 lead.
Drake regained the lead on a Rose three-pointer with 5:15 left, but the Huskers held the Bulldogs to just one field goal the rest of regulation. Nebraska got a jumper from Cincore to tie it at 3:58, before Cain gave the Big Red a 69-67 edge with 3:15 to play. Maddy Dean, who finished with 14 for the Bulldogs, tied the score at 69 with 1:33 left.
Prior to Eliely’s apparent regulation-ending heroics, Becca Jonas missed a pair of free throws for Drake with 2.3 seconds left that could have given the win to Drake.
Nebraska completes a three-game non-conference road swing by taking on San Jose State on Sunday, Dec. 17. Tip-off between the Huskers and Spartans is set for 2 p.m. (CT).