The Nebraska women’s basketball team battled with Iowa on Thursday night, but the No. 19 Hawkeyes prevailed 77-71 in Iowa City, Iowa.
Nebraska trailed by 10 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds remaining, but clawed back to within two points on Leigha Brown's jumper with 25 seconds remaining.
Iowa's Tania Davis pushed the lead to 74-71 on her first free throw, but she missed the second attempt. An offensive rebound on the miss by the Hawkeyes' Hannah Stewart kept the ball away from the Huskers, who were forced to foul again.
"I'm glad that we continued to fight because that's part of the culture that we're working so hard to establish," NU coach Amy Williams said on her postgame radio show. "We went on a lull, we dug ourselves a 10-, 12-point deficit right there and you can't do that against a really good team like this, but I thought we did a lot of things right to dig ourselves (out) and put ourselves in a position to be a possession (away) down the stretch.
"I like the fight, we just got to keep learning from these situations."
Both teams jumped out to great starts offensively, but NU (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten) trailed the Hawkeyes 22-20 after the first 10 minutes of action.
To start the second quarter, Maddie Simon and Brown drilled three-pointers in an 8-0 Husker run. At the halftime break, the Huskers had made five three-pointers and picked up seven assists on 13 baskets.
Nebraska finished the game with nine three-pointers made on 21 attempts (43 percent).
Megan Gustafson, who entered Thursday averaging 26.8 points per game, kick-started the Iowa offense just before halftime and went into the break with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Iowa (10-3, 1-1) led by 37-34 at the break.
As they’d done in the first two Big Ten games of the season, the Huskers fought back in the second half.
A Simon three-pointer gave NU the momentum right out of the break and propelled a 9-2 run that gave the Huskers a 43-39 lead. But a 5:08 scoring drought that followed doomed Nebraska, as Iowa went on a 16-4 run to take a commanding lead into the fourth quarter.
Gustafson scored 12 points in the third, including the final 10 for Iowa. The senior scored 29 and 26 points in the two contests against Nebraska a season ago. On Thursday, she finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds to pace Iowa.
"We were hoping that by getting her some different looks and by throwing some different players at her -- Kayla (Mershon) and Kate (Cain) and Ashtyn (Veerbeek) -- and kind of different people, different times, different looks, that that could kind of help mix it up a little, but she's such a great player," Williams said. "She's got counters to everything."
In the first two games of conference play, the Huskers used dominant fourth quarters to take the lead and secure the win.
The Hawkeyes forced Nebraska into another long scoring drought in the final period. NU went 4:32 without hitting a field goal as Iowa sealed its first win in Big Ten play.
Iowa entered the game averaging 84 points per game.
"In my mind I kind of had us wanting to keep them under 70 if we could," Williams said.
Brown continued to be a bright spot for Amy Williams’ offense, leading the Huskers with 20 points and three three-pointers. Hannah Whitish joined Brown as the only other Husker in double figures with 14 points.
— Alec McChesney