EVANSTON, Ill. — This a loss that could stick with the Nebraska women’s basketball team.
The No. 21 Huskers are in jeopardy of falling out of the ratings — and taking an RPI hit — after Sunday’s 63-59 setback at Northwestern. Nebraska led 55-52 with less than four minutes left before the Wildcats finished the game on an 11-4 run.
Northwestern took the lead for good at 59-57 when guard Maggie Lyon caught an airballed 3-pointer from teammate Ashley Deary and made a layup. But in her postgame radio show, coach Connie Yori focused on all the open shots the Huskers missed. They shot 27 percent in the second half, and she said that cost them a chance to put some distance between themselves and Northwestern’s young, athletic roster.
“We couldn’t buy a basket,” Yori said. “How many layups did we miss? We missed — I’d have to go back and count — but, my gosh, we had shots at the rim, shots at the rim, shots at the rim ... we were our own worst enemies.
“It wasn’t as if we didn’t have some really good looks in the second half, and we shoot 27 percent. That was the difference.”
For a third straight game, senior forward Jordan Hooper — whom Yori said last week looked “exhausted” in practice — struggled with her shooting. Hooper missed 13 shots (4 of 17 from the floor) and 3 of 4 free throws. Two of those came while Nebraska and Northwestern were tied 55-55. Sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot missed 11 shots.
“We wouldn’t even expect to be in the game if you’d told me that before the game,” Yori said. “We gotta get Hoop on track. Everybody guards her strong — and she’s got a lot of traffic to play through — but she shot four free throws today, and — I’ll just leave it at that.”
The Huskers (13-5, 3-3 Big Ten) got career games from junior guard Tear’a Laudermill (18 points and three steals) and freshman forward Allie Havers (eight points, 10 rebounds), who played 17 minutes because of foul trouble for junior forward Emily Cady.
“Allie earned playing time today,” Yori said. “She performed really well. She made shots ... she played really good basketball for us, and she’s going to need to.”
Northwestern (13-7, 3-4) was led by freshman forward Nia Coffey (22 points, 10 rebounds). The Wildcats lost to the Huskers 66-65 in their opening game of Big Ten play and were coming off a 90-65 loss to No. 22 Purdue Thursday.
Nebraska next hosts Michigan on Wednesday night when the Huskers will retire former All-American Kelsey Griffin’s number.