Connie Yori knew No. 22 California would be a tough matchup for her Nebraska women's basketball team. It turns out she was right, but the Huskers made it interesting, sending Saturday's game in Berkeley, California, to overtime before losing 87-80.
"We competed hard," Yori said on her postgame radio show. "Give Cal credit, but we made too many errors. In a lot of ways, we beat ourselves."
The Husker coach lamented wasted possessions. "We definitely had our chances. … We've got to learn from our mistakes; we foul too much."
The difference in fouls was the story of the game. The Huskers were called for 23 fouls, while the Bears were whistled just 12 times. Cal (7-2) hit 16 of 20 free throws, while NU was 8-of-11 from the foul line.
The first half was a game of runs, as NU used a 15-0 spurt to take a 22-18 lead after the first quarter. But the Bears rallied with their own run, taking a 10-point lead in the second quarter before NU closed to 44-38 at halftime.
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Sophomore guard Natalie Romeo, who grew up in nearby Martinez, led the Huskers (7-2) with 24 points, including six three-pointers.
Senior guard Rachel Theriot had 17 points and a season-high 15 assists for her seventh career double-double.
Nebraska junior Allie Havers had one of the best games of her career, scoring a career-high 18 points on 9-of-15 shooting. She saw extended action because freshman Jessica Shepard was hampered by foul trouble most the game. Shepard fouled out with 4:43 left in overtime. It was the first time in her short NU career that Shepard didn't score in double figures. She finished with six points in 24 minutes.
Cal 6-foot-4 freshman Kristine Anigwe scored a game-high 29 points, including 9 of 10 free throws. Courtney Range and Mikayla Cowling added 19 points apiece.
Theriot hit two free throws with 2:22 left in overtime to pull NU into a 76-76 tie and Havers added a basket to tie it at 78-78. But Cowling hit a three with 1:37 to play to give the Bears the lead for good. Cal then hit six of seven free throws to preserve the win.