At one point in the first quarter on Sunday, the Indiana women’s basketball team missed nine of 10 field-goal attempts during its game against Nebraska, and the Hoosiers were just 4 of 16 shooting from the field in the first quarter.
But the Hoosiers started making a lot more shots after that and rallied for an 82-78 win in front of 3,893 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
In the second quarter Indiana was 11 of 15 from the field, which allowed the Hoosiers to rally from a seven-point deficit and lead 36-32 at halftime.
After Indiana took a 12-point lead in the third quarter, Nebraska fought back. The Huskers tied the game twice in the fourth quarter, the first time on a three-pointer by Maddie Simon with five minutes left in the game. And two other times the Huskers were within one point, but each time Indiana quickly hit a shot to hold off the Huskers.
Nebraska still had a chance to win with 20 seconds left but missed two three-pointers to tie from Ashtyn Veerbeek and Taylor Kissinger.
Indiana outscored the Huskers 70-61 over the final three quarters.
Guard Ali Patberg scored 22 points, and forward Kym Royster had her best game of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Hoosiers (17-6, 6-5 Big Ten) in a game that was as close as the team’s matching Big Ten records going into the game.
Indiana was also good on offense in the third quarter, shooting 10 of 19 on field goals. For the game, Indiana made 46 percent from the field.
Patberg said the Hoosiers didn’t panic when they weren’t making much to start the game.
“I kept telling our team, ‘We’re good, we’re good. We’re getting good shots. They’re going to fall,’” Patberg said. “And we believed it. And they started falling when we needed them to.”
Nebraska (10-12, 5-6) had another frustrating loss in a close game. The Huskers are now 1-5 in Big Ten games decided by six points or fewer.
“We played well down the stretch; it’s just hard when you dig yourself in that hole,” Simon said. “We’ve made some plays offensively to keep us in those close games, but I think it just comes down to defense and getting some stops. There is just a couple plays where Indiana connected and came in clutch with a couple of big shots."
Freshman guard Sam Haiby led Nebraska with 17 points. Hannah Whitish added 16, and Simon had 12. Kissinger scored eight points, including on some strong plays to the basket early in the game. Simon also led the Huskers with seven rebounds and two steals.
It was a combination of things that kept Nebraska from retaking the lead at the finish, Nebraska coach Amy Williams said.
“There was a time or two where we didn’t close all the way out and we give Jaelynn Penn, who is their great three-pointer shooter, a huge open three right there just closing out short to a shooter, which we can’t do,” Williams said. “I thought we executed offensively down the stretch; we just didn’t put the ball in the basket necessarily every time."
Nebraska shot 44.3 percent from the field, but was just 4-of-22 on threes. Nebraska was 20 of 29 on free throws.
The Huskers now have just a 2-4 record in Big Ten home games. Indiana coach Teri Moren was thrilled that the Hoosier could finish off the win.
“One of the things about the Big Ten is it’s really difficult to win on the road, but I have to say Nebraska is always one of the most difficult being that there crowd support is just tremendous for women’s basketball,” Moren said. “I take my hat off to the fans that they have, and the energy that they bring their players I think is second-to-none.”