Balanced Huskers blow out cold-shooting No. 5 Indiana 72-55
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Hundreds of fans waited in the seats behind press row while Amy Williams finished her postgame radio interview.
As the Nebraska coach began walking across the court toward the locker room, a round of cheers broke out. Beaming, she stopped and turned, raised both arms high and waved enthusiastically.
She soaked in the appreciation for the Cornhuskers’ second win of the season over a top-10 opponent, this time a 72-55 blowout of fifth-ranked Indiana Monday night.
“It’s rewarding, because this team has been working hard to be able to get over the hump against one of those teams that is really respected as one of the best in the country — and wanting to be able to prove we belong in that conversation,” Williams said.
Jazz Shelley and Sam Haiby scored 14 points apiece to lead five Nebraska players in double figures, and the Cornhuskers broke open a close game in the fourth quarter.
The Huskers (19-6, 8-6 Big Ten) capitalized as Indiana missed 18 straight shots, going on a 17-0 run that grew their lead to 21 points in the final three minutes.
Nebraska knocked off its highest-ranked opponent since beating a No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20, 2009, and continued to enhance its postseason profile. The Huskers went into the game No. 20 in the NET rankings.
“I think this is really something right now that people should take notice of,” Williams said. “Obviously, a couple wins over top-10 teams in the country is something I think will help anybody’s resume. We feel we are able to compete with the best teams in the country and we want to keep doing that.”
The conference-leading Hoosiers (18-4, 10-2) had won 13 of their last 14 before losing to an unranked opponent for the first time since losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament last year.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best. We just are,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “Nebraska is a difficult place to play even if you don’t have a number by your name. Even on a Monday night there was great energy in the building on their side, and it just wasn’t our night.”
The Huskers trailed for only five minutes and scored the most points of any team this season against Indiana.
“We’ve won a lot of games against good teams where we weren’t hitting shots, and we usually could rely on our defense,” Indiana’s Grace Burger said. “Our defense was a lot worse than our offense. For a team that takes pride in defense, that was disappointing.”
Reserve Allison Wiender had eight of her 11 points in the first half and Alexis Markowski and Isabelle Bourne had 10 apiece for the Huskers. Markowski matched her career high with 15 rebounds.
Berger led the Hoosiers with 20 points and Aleksa Gulbe and Nicole Cardano-Hillary had 10 apiece. Indiana shot just 32% from the field and was 2 of 23 on 3-pointers.
The Huskers were up double digits early in the second half, and Ashley Scoggins made it 42-30 with back-to-back 3s. But they couldn’t put away the Hoosiers until the coldest of their cold shooting set in after Cardano-Hillary’s 3 pulled her team within 50-44.
As the Hoosiers clanked or air-balled 18 straight shots, Nebraska extended its lead with Haiby leading the way with a snaking layup and in-close jumpers. Haiby had 10 of her points in the fourth quarter.
Bella Cravens’ putback restored the double-digit cushion. Shelley extended it to 19 points when she made both free throws after a technical foul was called on Moren, and Haiby made it 69-48 with another jumper.
“Tonight, collectively, they were in complete control most of the game,” Moren said. “We were playing from behind. You could sense that. The more they scored and good things were happening, the louder the crowd got. They were much better than we were tonight.”
Indiana: This goes down as one of the most miserable offensive nights of the season. Their 31.9% shooting was their worst of the season, they were just 7 of 13 from the line and had only four assists.
Nebraska: The Huskers beat their second top-10 opponent — they won over a No. 8 Michigan last month — and improved to 14-1 at home. They also won for the first time in eight games against Indiana.
Maurtice Ivy, the first 2,000-point scorer in Nebraska program history, received a standing ovation while being honored at midcourt between the first and second quarters. Ivy was the 1988 Big Eight player of the year and a three-time all-conference first-team pick. Her No. 30 jersey was retired in 2011.
Indiana: hosts Northwestern on Thursday.
Nebraska: visits Penn State on Thursday.
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