Hailie Sample's layup off an assist from Lindsey Moore with 43 seconds left brought No. 20 Nebraska all the way back from a five-point deficit in the closing minutes for a 55-53 win at the Kohl Center on Thursday night.
The late heroics by Sample, Moore and Rachel Theriot were enough to stretch Nebraska's winning streak to 10 straight games and improve to 22-6 overall and 12-3 in the Big Ten. NU's 12 league wins are the second most in school history.
Sample, who also teamed with Moore to secure another one-possession road win at Iowa (Feb. 11) during Nebraska's winning streak, finished with six points. Moore, who added the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 9.9 seconds left, led Nebraska with 13 points, while adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Theriot, a freshman from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, was also huge down the stretch for the Huskers. Theriot hit four of NU's nine field goals in the second half, including a shot with 3:00 left to pull the Huskers within 51-50 and another one with 1:36 left to give NU a 52-51 lead to set Sample's game-winning shot. Theriot finished with 11 points, two assists and a steal.
Sophomore Emily Cady added eight points, 11 rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots, while Jordan Hooper pitched in seven points and 11 boards of her own. The Huskers also got contributions off the bench, outscoring UW's reserves 10-0 in the game.
"We showed some real toughness to win that game," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "We couldn't hit a shot in the second half, we were down, and we still found a way to win. Our defense was good and Emily Cady and Jordan Hooper were really tough on the boards. We knew it was going to be hard to win, but our players found a way."
Jacki Gulczynski led Wisconsin with 19 points, while senior Tiera Stephen contributed 15 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals in her final home game as a Badger. However, Stephen's last-second shot was offline as NU escaped with its seventh Big Ten road win of the year. Morgan Paige added 14 points for the Badgers, who fell to 11-17 overall and 3-12 in the Big Ten. UW finished 3-5 at home in Big Ten play, including a 63-61 win over No. 7 Penn State.
Nebraska hit just 37.7 percent (23-61) of its shots for the game, including just 31 percent (9-29) in the second half. The Huskers went just 2-of-17 from three-point range in the game, including 0-for-8 in the second half. NU did go 7-of-9 at the free throw line, led by Moore's 5-of-7 effort. Wisconsin outrebounded Nebraska 40-34, but the Huskers won the turnover battle 13-9.
Wisconsin outshot NU, hitting 39.3 percent (22-56) of its shots, but just 2-of-11 three-pointers. UW was 7-of-10 at the free throw line.
The Huskers got contributions from everybody in the first half on their way to a 31-27 halftime lead. Eight Huskers scored in the opening period, including seven points from Moore who hit a double-pump layup at the buzzer after running the length of the floor to end the half. Moore added three rebounds, three assists and two first-half steals. Moore's steals pushed her to 200 for her career.
Hooper added five points and five rebounds, while Cady pitched in four points and seven big rebounds. Sample also contributed four first-half points, while Brandi Jeffery scored four quick points off the bench early in the half. Tear'a Laudermill and Katie Simon each added two points.
Senior Meghin Williams was the only Husker who did not score in the first half, and she made scrappy play on a loose ball in the first half before finding Theriot for an assist on a three-pointer.
NU jumped to a quick 5-0 lead before Wisconsin answered with a 7-0 run to take a brief 7-5 lead before Williams found Theriot to give the Huskers an 8-7 lead with 15:56 left in the half. NU led the rest of the half.
Nebraska hit just 2-of-9 threes in the first half, while hitting 43.8 percent (14-32) of its shots. NU was just 1-for-1 at the free throw line. The Huskers won the first-half turnover battle 7-6 and matched the Badgers on the boards at 17.
Paige and Stephen each led UW with nine first-half points, as the Badgers hit 41.7 percent (10-24) from the field, including 1-of-5 threes. UW went 6-for-8 at the line.
Nebraska pushed its lead back to six a Hooper jumper to open the second half but Wisconsin regained the lead at 39-37 off a Stephen jumper. UW's grew to five at 47-42 and 49-44, the last time on a Paige runner with 8:21 left.
The Huskers wrap up regular-season Big Ten Conference action on Sunday against No. 7 Penn State. The game, which is set for a 5 p.m. tip, will be the final women's basketball home game in the history of the Devaney Center. It will also be Senior Night for Huskers Meghin Williams and Lindsey Moore, with postgame festivities honoring NU's two four-year contributors.