LINCOLN — CBS got its money’s worth. The Nebraska women’s basketball team didn’t quite.
NU and Purdue played their third straight overtime game in less than a calendar year Saturday. A game of 91 missed shots and probably as many floor burns again came down to a handful of desperate Husker heaves from beyond the 3-point line.
Jordan Hooper made one of them to send the game to overtime. Five minutes later, her next deep prayer fell short. The No. 14 Boilermakers escaped with a 69-66 win, rough and rugged, befitting the Big Ten conference that both teams call home.
“It’s a lot of Midwestern kids who’ve grown up to be tough,” Purdue guard Courtney Moses said.
“I think it’s like in a contract that we have to go into overtime with Purdue,” NU senior guard Lindsey Moore said.
“I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus,” said PU guard KK Houser, the Lincoln Southeast graduate who had her homecoming. “I’ll feel like this for five days after. ... It’s always a long and hard-fought battle.”
Saturday’s game initially resembled a blowout. No. 19 NU (11-4, 1-1 Big Ten) missed its first 16 shots — including 11 layups — falling behind 13-1.
“Our nerves got the best of us,” said Moore, referring to the opponent and likely the national television audience.
Sophomore guard Brandi Jeffery hit a 3-pointer to break the drought with 11:28 left in the first half. By the 8:49 mark, the Huskers had cut Purdue’s lead to 15-14. From there, the 6,606 fans at the Devaney Center spent much of the game out of their chairs, straining forward to watch the sloppy-but-intense prizefight.
“We fought really hard,” NU coach Connie Yori said.
In Purdue’s corner: senior Sam Ostarello — the Boilers’ No. 4 option on offense — scoring 17 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. She hit the game-winning jumper and splashed home several more from the perimeter, burning the zone defense Yori slipped into the game plan.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Ostarello, too — she’s from Fort Pierre, S.D. — and she spent it in a self-described zone.
“The one where you don’t see anybody but your team,” Ostarello said. “And it’s like 5-on-0. Especially when I was rebounding. I didn’t see anybody.”
Moore took over for the Huskers, scoring 22 points and dishing out eight assists. She could have had a half-dozen more if teammates had knocked down uncontested jumpers created by Moore’s penetration. NU hit just 30.8 percent of its shots for the game.
“I felt kind of bad for her,” Yori said. “She didn’t get a lot of help. They collapse on her, she kicks the ball and we get wide-open 15-footers that we’ve got to make.”
Hooper — the Big Ten’s No. 5 scorer — was among those Huskers in the deep freeze. But she scored 11 points in the last eight minutes of regulation, including a 3-pointer to tie the game at 59 and send it to overtime. Hooper described the shot as a “broken play” — three Boilermakers collapsed on Moore — that ended with her catching a pass, setting up quickly and nailing a 24-footer with 2.3 seconds left.
“Here we go again,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said.
Nebraska and Purdue played five overtimes over two games last season. This would be the sixth.
The Boilermakers (13-2, 2-0) carved out a 66-61 lead before Husker reserve guard Tear’a Laudermill tied the game with five straight points.
Ostarello hit a jumper at the elbow of the free-throw line with 43 seconds left. Hooper missed a 3-pointer on the other end. NU fouled Houser, who made one of two free throws. On the rebound, with 16 seconds left, Yori chose not to call timeout to set up a play. The one Nebraska ran, she said, players had just practiced two days before.
It did not look like it. Freshman guard Rachel Theriot held the ball as the clock ticked before finally passing to Moore, who got a split-second look at the hoop, but didn’t take the shot.
“I should’ve shot it,” Moore said. “I just didn’t. (Hooper) hit that one going into the first overtime, so I was confident in her.”
Hooper finally got the ball in the corner and pushed up an off-balance, leaning jumper that hit the wedge of the rim.
“Tough shot,” Hooper said. “Tough game.”
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