Michigan forced overtime on a controversial play with less than 1 second left in regulation, and went on to beat the Nebraska women’s basketball team 69-64 in overtime on Saturday evening at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
That left the Huskers very disappointed, as they were close to beating the 23rd-ranked Wolverines, which would have given Nebraska its first win against a ranked team this season
Nebraska (12-6, 3-2 Big Ten) had used an 11-0 run late in the fourth quarter to take its first lead of the game.
Nebraska tied the game at 56, after Taylor Kissinger came off the bench and made back-to-back three pointers. Then Kissinger passed to Jasmine Cincore for a layup to put NU up 58-56, giving the Huskers their first lead with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. Kate Cain made one free throw to stretch the lead to 59-56.
Hailey Brown made a three-pointer for Michigan to end its scoring drought of more than seven minutes and tie the game at 59.
Hannah Whitish made two free throw with 21 seconds left to put the Huskers up 62-59.
After a timeout with 8 seconds left, Michigan needed three points to tie, and Deja Church took a three-point attempt just before the buzzer. Nebraska’s Nicea Eliely was called for a foul when she blocked Church’s shot with 0.7 seconds left in regulation. Church made all three free throws to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, Nebraska scored first with a basket by Grace Mitchell. But Michigan took a 66-64 lead with 1:05 left when Hailey Thome was fouled and made both free throws.
Nebraska had a costly turnover with 45 seconds left. Kissinger had a three-pointer attempt with 15 seconds to take the lead but just missed, and Michigan held on for the win. NU did not score for the final 4:11 of overtime.
Katelynn Flaherty led Michigan with 26 points. Thome added 13 points, including five when Michigan outscored the Huskers 7-2 in overtime.
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said Nebraska was much better than when the Wolverines easily beat the Huskers twice last season. She was also very proud of how Church made three pressure-packed free throws to send the game to overtime.
“I think my kid went to the free-throw line and made three free throws in front of (4,279) screaming fans, and she’s a freshman and I was really proud of the way she was locked-in and was able to make those free throws,” Barnes Arico said. “I know they might not be happy with the call, but there is a lot of calls that I haven’t been happy with throughout the game and throughout the season, but the fact that my kid still had to go to the free-throw line and make three free throws just says a lot about our team.”
After the game, Nebraska coach Amy Williams said she had not watched a replay of the play that resulted in Michigan getting three free throws to force overtime.
“I think Nicea just felt like that she was making a defensive play that was going to end the ball game,” Williams said. “We had discussed in our timeout huddle that if they moved the basketball away from the three-point line that we had two fouls to give and we could be aggressive and go for fouls, but if they got up to the three-point line it’s just too risky because if they got into their shooting motion we didn’t want to foul the three-point shooter, and don’t foul that. I think she felt like she was just going to make a play that was going to end the game.”
Amy Williams video. Disappointing loss: pic.twitter.com/Lg5DiXjqqN— Brent Wagner (@LJSSportsWagner) January 14, 2018
Whitish led Nebraska with 16 points. Cain finished with 13 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Eliely scored 10 points.
Kissinger was sick and only played eight minutes, but scored six points to give the Huskers a spark in the fourth-quarter rally.
The two halves were very different. Both teams were finding ways to score early, with the teams combining for 53 points in the first quarter. The third quarter was rough. The teams combined for more turnovers (17) than points (nine). Nebraska held Michigan to 14 points in the third and fourth quarters combined.
There were enough little breakdowns that added up for Nebraska. The Huskers would get a defensive stop, but then not get the rebound. Nebraska initially struggled when Michigan played full-court defense, with the Wolverines getting back-to-back layups off steals.
Nebraska missed seven free throws and was outrebounded by Michigan 43-22. Michigan was 15-of-19 on free throws.
The Huskers felt like they were on the verge of a big win, and took the loss hard.
“It was a very disappointed locker room,” Williams said. “We have been talking about how we’re proud of the fact we’ve been road warriors, but we want to be able to take care of this home court and we want to be able to protect, and we felt like we had a really good chance here tonight to be able to knock off a ranked opponent, and that’s kind of the next step for our team, and to fall short of that it’s disappointing.”