Lindsey Moore hit teammate Hailie Sample on a zip pass under the basket for a layup with 44 seconds left to help No. 20 Nebraska to a 55-53 win against Wisconsin on Thursday night at Madison, Wis.
With No. 7 Penn State losing 89-81 to Minnesota on Thursday, Nebraska (22-6, 12-3) has a chance to earn a share of the Big Ten Conference regular-season title if the Huskers can beat the Lady Lions on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the final game at the Devaney Sports Center.
The NU team plane stayed on the runway 45 minutes so that the Huskers could learn the result of the Penn State-Minnesota game.
“Sunday is a very big game, maybe the biggest ever at Devaney,” Husker coach Connie Yori said on her postgame radio show. “Senior Day for Lindsey and Meghin Williams, the last game in Devaney and a shot at the Big Ten title."
None of that would have happened without the final heroics from Moore and Sample against Wisconsin.
“I came down on the shot before the last one and (Cassie) Rochel got a piece of my shot. So I thought the next time down, she’d be all over me, and I saw Hailie and she got it down,” said Moore, who scored 13 points to lead the Huskers to their 10th consecutive win, including six road games.
Win or lose that game, Nebraska most likely will play in the 11:30 a.m. game next Friday in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament near Chicago.
Wisconsin made Thursday's game a very big one, too.
The Badgers (11-17, 3-12) have lost 10 games in which they either had the lead or were within five points in the final five minutes. They took a 39-37 lead on a basket by Tiera Stephen with 14:35 left and eventually expanded it to 47-42 on a basket by Jacki Gulczynski with 9:55 remaining.
Nebraska struggled to cut the margin, hitting just five of its first 19 second-half shots. But freshman Rachel Theriot scored on a reverse layup with 8:43 left, Moore scored on an assist from Emily Cady at the 7:51 mark, and Cady hit a pair of free throws to cut the Wisconsin lead to 49-48. Stephen, who scored 15 points, hit a layup. But Theriot, who finished with 11 points, hit a jumper with 3:11 left to pull NU to 51-50.
Theriot then scored on a layup with 1:47 left to put NU ahead before Morgan Paige, who scored 14 points, scored to give the Badgers their final lead at 53-52 with 1:14 left.
Moore then missed a shot, partially blocked by Rochel, but NU got the rebound, setting up the winning play.
“The pass to Sample was a play called, where I go to the hoop or get the ball to (Jordan) Hooper,” said Moore, who had six rebounds and four assists.
Yori said she expected a close game.
“We made plays and got a reasonable number of stops and did a better job rebounding in the second half,” she said. “The Lindsey-to-Hailie pass to win, well, it’s nice to have a point guard who can do those things.”
The Huskers hit just 37 percent from the field and a woeful 2-of-17 on three-pointers in the game.
“There was not a three that we shouldn’t have taken,” Yori said. “I thought we took good shots, they just didn’t go down.”
The Nebraska defense, solid through the 10-game winning streak, held Wisconsin to 39 percent shooting and helped create a 15-7 edge in points off turnovers.