Huskers Topple No. 2 Bears, 103-99 in Triple OT

Kiera Hardy scored a career-high 37 points to lead four Huskers in double figures, as the Nebraska women's basketball team recorded its first-ever win against a top-five opponent, defeating second-ranked Baylor, 103-99, in triple overtime in front of a crowd of 3,192 at the Devaney Center.

In the longest game in school history, the Huskers improved to 11-4 overall and 3-0 in league play by erasing a 13-point second-half deficit to forge a 68-68 tie at the end of regulation against the visiting Bears, who slipped to 12-2 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play.  Nebraska's win also allowed the Huskers to open Big 12 play with a 3-0 record for the first time since 1991-92, while extending its overall winning streak to five games.  The Huskers also improved to a perfect 9-0 at the Devaney Center this season.  The win was also Nebraska's first over Baylor under Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, as NU snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bears.

 "Nebraska deserves all the credit," Mulkey-Robertson said. "They played hard.  They fought hard to the end.  They made the plays they needed to down the stretch.  We didn't.  We did not play smart late in the game, but Nebraska deserves the credit."

 Nebraska's win over the No. 2 Bears, whose only other loss came to No. 1 LSU, 71-70, in the season opener in Austin, Texas,  marked the first top-five opponent the Huskers had ever defeated, but the second win over a top-10 opponent in the last two seasons, joining an 81-63 win over then-No. 9 Kansas State in Lincoln last season.  Nebraska has recorded two of the four wins over top-10 opponents in school history under third-year coach Connie Yori. 

 "That was fun," Yori said.  "What a great basketball game.  There isn't anyone in this building who saw that game that wouldn't say that was fun to watch.  That was a landmark win for our program."

Prior to tonight, the longest game in school history was a pair of double overtime games, most recently an 83-75 victory over Colorado on Feb. 14, 1996, as the Huskers won tonight's game at the free throw line, converting a school-record 46 free throws in in a school-record 54 attempts, breaking the previous mark of 37 and 46 against Missouri on Feb. 18, 1996. Nebraska was 25-of-30 from the charity stripes in the overtime period, scoring 25 of its 35 overtime points at the foul line.

Jelena Spiric led the Huskers' charge at the free throw, connecting on 15-of-16 free throws after halftime, to finish with a career-high 19 points.  Spiric, who earned repeated trips to the free throw line in overtime with dribble penetration from the wing, scored NU's first eight points of the third overtime at the free throw to put the Huskers' in the driver seat down the stretch.  The reigning Big 12 Rookie of the Week, Spiric added a career-high nine rebounds while playing a career-high 44 minutes.  Spiric's 15 free throws made ranked as the second-highest total by an individual in school history, while her 16 attempts ranked fourth on the NU chart.

While Spiric sealed the win for the Huskers, it was Hardy who set the tone.  The 5-6 sophomore from Kansas City, Mo., connected on three long three-pointers in the first two minutes of the game and finished with a career-high six trifectas for the game.  Her six three-pointers tied for the second-highest total by an individual in school history, while her 37 points were the seventh-highest total in the Nebraska record book.

Hardy, who hit 10-of-25 shots from the field, including 6-of-10 three-pointers, also hit 11-of-13 free throws.  She produced her eighth 20-point scoring effort of the season and topped her previous high of 31 against Hampton on Nov. 27.  Hardy added seven rebounds in a while playing a career-high 52 minutes.

The Bears had opportunities to win the game at the end of the game and in the second overtime, but could not convert as Chelsea Whitaker, who went 1-for-6 from the field before fouling out in the third overtime, missed a lay-up with seven seconds left in regulation and missed a short jumper at the end of the second overtime.

The Huskers took the game over in the third overtime, converting 14-of-16 from the foul line, including a perfect 8-for-8 effort from Spiric. Behind the foul shooting of Spiric, the Huskers built a 95-90 lead with 1:50 remaining. Baylor came right back, scoring six of the next eight points to close to within 97-96 on an Angela Tisdale jumper with 30.8 seconds left. The Bears then fouled Elena Diaz, who split the pair to give NU a 98-96 lead. On BU's next possession, Chanelle Fox split a pair of foul shots to pull the Bears within one with 13.9 second left, but could get no closer, as Diaz, who finished with 11 points, made the first free throw, but missed the second which was tipped by Spiric to Danielle Page for the offensive rebound. Jina Johansen then gave NU an insurmountable 101-97 advantage with 9.4 seconds left.

Johansen scored 10 of her points after halftime and tied her season-high with eight assists while setting the school record for minutes played.  The 5-7 guard from Dannebrog, Neb., did not leave the floor in playing all 55 minutes in the win.  She produced her third double-figure scoring effort in the last four games.

The Huskers were fortunate to send the game to overtime, outscoring the Bears, 16-7 over the last eight minutes to overcome a 61-52 deficit. While the Huskers shined at the foul line, the Bears went into hibernation, hitting only 4-of-9 free throws in the final four minutes of regulation. Trailing 66-60 with two minutes left, Spiric started the rally with a pair of three throws before Hardy's two foul shots with 39 seconds remaining pulled the Huskers within 66-64. After a Whitaker free throw pushed the lead to three points, Spiric answered with a lay-up to make it 67-66. Whitaker then split a pair of foul shots with 28 seconds left, before Spiric sent the game into overtime with a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left.

The Huskers trailed nearly the entire first overtime period, using some more good fortune to nearly prevail in the first extra session. Trailing 78-76, Baylor's Steffanie Blackmon, who scored eight of Baylor's 12 points in the first overtime, was falling out of bounds and called timeout, but Baylor was out of timeouts. The resulting technical free throws by Johansen tied the score at 78, the first tie of the overtime period.

On the ensuing possession, Hardy gave the Huskers an 80-78 lead with a short jumper with 7.2 second left. The Bears raced down to get a final shot, when Sophia Young nailed a jumper with two tenths of a second remaining to force another five minutes.

Young scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Blackmon finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 1:49 remaining in the third overtime. Chanelle Fox added career highs with 14 points and 10 boards to give three Bears double-doubles on the night.

 In the second overtime, Nebraska took an 83-80 lead, but Baylor's Emily Niemann tied the game with a long three-pointer from the wing and eventually took an 87-84 lead on Young's baseline jumper with 40.3 seconds remaining. Hardy then drained a three-pointer from the wing – her sixth three-pointer of the game – knotting the score at 87-all with 29.5 seconds left before Whitaker's miss turned the game into the longest contest in school history.

 Nebraska returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 15, as the Huskers travel to Kansas State Tip-off from Manhattan is slated for 2 p.m. and the game will be carried on Froggy 98 (98.1 FM) in Lincoln and on the Internet at Huskers.com.


Big Red Report Top Stories