Indianapolis – Nebraska battled back from a 14-point second-half deficit to cut Purdue’s lead to one with just under two minutes left, but the Boilermakers held off the Huskers 75-71 in the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
With the loss, Nebraska ended its season with a 14-16 overall record after tying for sixth in the 14-team Big Ten Conference with a 9-9 record. Purdue improved to 19-14 overall and will advance to the tournament quarterfinals on Friday to play No. 3 seed Rutgers in the final game of the day.
Nebraska trailed 50-36 midway through the third quarter and 60-47 at the end of three quarters, before shooting their way back into the game with five three-pointers in the final period.
Sophomore Taylor Kissinger buried a pair of threes in the final period and five of Nebraska’s 11 threes in the game. Her final three cut Purdue’s lead to 69-65 with 2:42 left, before junior Hannah Whitish buried her third three of the game with 1:56 left to trim the margin to 69-68 – the closest it had been since the final minute of the first quarter.
But Purdue answered with back-to-back baskets from Dominique Oden and Ae’Rianna Harris to push the lead back to five at 73-68 with 47 seconds left to close out the win. Oden finished with a game-high 20 points, while adding six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Harris added 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks to help Purdue dominate the boards. Harris, who had five offensive rebounds, joined teammate Tamara Farquhar, who finished with a game-high 15 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end, to pair for 29 of Purdue’s 44 boards on the night. The Boilermakers finished with 19 offensive rebounds.
Karissa McLaughlin added 13 points, Kayana Traylor pitched in 12 and Lindsey Whilby contributed 11 big points off the bench.
Kissinger led Nebraska with 15 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting, while freshman Sam Haiby finished with 12 points, including NU’s first seven of the fourth quarter to spark the Husker rally. Fellow freshman Leigha Brown managed 11 points and three assists, while sophomore center Kate Cain contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Whitish finished with nine points and four assists.
For the game, Nebraska hit 38.5 percent (25-65) of its shots from the field, including 11-of-25 threes (.440). The Huskers also knocked down 10-of-14 free throws (.714). Nebraska also won the turnover battle, 10-8.
Purdue answered by hitting 44.6 percent (29-65) of its shots, including 7-of-17 threes (.412), and 10-of-15 free throws. Purdue won the battle of the boards 44-36.
The loss was Nebraska’s 10th of the season by two possessions or less, and capped a season in which Nebraska played a school-record 14 two-possession games among its 30 contests.
Nebraska got off to a solid start, taking a 13-9 lead after a Kissinger three-pointer with 3:17 left in the first quarter. But Purdue ended the quarter on a 9-0 run, then open the second period with back-to-back threes to complete a quick 15-0 run and take a 24-13 lead with 9:17 left.
The Huskers settled down after the quick Boilermaker burst and went to halftime trailing 40-30.
Brown led the Big Red in the half with nine points, including a three-pointer to end the half. Kissinger added a pair of threes to finish the half with six points. Cain, Nicea Eliely and Kayla Mershon each had four first-half points, while Whitish added a three late in the half.
Nebraska hit just 33.3 percent (10-30) of its first-half shots, but did knockdown 4-of-10 threes, including three threes in the final four minutes to end the half. The Huskers were 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the half, but were out-rebounded 23-15 in the half.
Purdue hit 14-of-32 first-half shots, including a sizzling 6-for-9 from three-point range. The Boilermakers were also 6-for-7 from the free throw line, but lost the turnover battle 5-4.
Oden led the Boilermakers with 10 first-half points, while McLaughlin pitched in nine points on three threes, while Traylor contributed eight points.