Rachel Theriot scored 20 of her game-high 27 points in the second half Sunday as the Nebraska women’s basketball team rallied to beat Illinois 58-53 in Champaign, Illinois.
Nebraska (12-3, 2-2 Big Ten) has rallied to win back-to-back road games. The 19th-ranked Huskers came from six points down late to beat Michigan State on Thursday.
After playing three of its first four Big Ten games on the road, Nebraska returns home Thursday to play Penn State.
Nebraska’s offense wasn’t great again, but Theriot got on a roll in the second half.
The junior guard scored seven points in the first half on just 2-of-9 shooting from the field. In the second half, she made eight of the Huskers’ 12 field goals.
“You just keep shooting and don’t lose confidence in yourself,” Theriot said in a postgame radio interview. “That’s what the coaches say all the time. They’re going to fall eventually.”
Nebraska trailed 49-43 with 6:42 left after a layup by Illinois freshman center Chatrice White, a Shelby native. Theriot responded by scoring eight straight points for the Huskers over the next 2 minutes to tie the game at 51 with 4:41 to play. After nearly 1:30 of scoreless basketball for both teams, Theriot scored again to give Nebraska the lead for good, 53-51, with 3:06 remaining.
“(Theriot) got aggressive, and she was scoring over some guards that she had some size advantage on,” NU coach Connie Yori said on the postgame radio show. “I always like it when Rachel’s aggressive. When do we ever say, ‘Rachel, you’re taking too many shots’? I haven’t ever said that.”
Nebraska closed the game with a 15-4 run. Amarah Coleman accounted for all four of the Illini's points in the final 6:40.
Theriot was the only Husker to score in double figures, but Nebraska got six points and 12 rebounds from Emily Cady, and seven points and nine rebounds from Hailie Sample.
Brandi Jeffery added five points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Tear'a Laudermill scored nine points, had a team-high three assists and two steals. Theriot was held without an assist.
Coleman led Illinois with 18 points. The Illini (11-5, 2-2) were without leading scorer Ivory Crawford, who injured a knee in last week's upset of No. 17 Iowa.
White had nine points and nine rebounds for the Illini, including making 1 of 2 three-point attempts. It was her second-lowest point total of the season.
“Emily guarded (White) the majority of the game, and Hailie some,” Yori said. “Emily played her tendencies well, and I thought that was positive. (White) didn’t really get a lot.”
Minden native Brooke Kissinger scored two points in 6 minutes for Illinois.
Big Ten road wins aren’t easy, especially when you trail by nine points, like NU did late in the first half. Its group of experienced starters helps.
“We’re in a timeout and I’m like, ‘Hey, we can win this game,’ and they’re all like, ‘Yeah, we can,’” Yori said. “You don’t have to sell them on it. You look at them and they’re confident.”
Nebraska shot 36 percent from field, including just 2-for-11 on three-pointers. NU also missed eight free throws.
— Brent C. Wagner