MADISON, Wis. ≠— Throughout the second half, Wisconsin went to leading-scorer Michaela Johnson in hopes of pulling a Big Ten upset of No. 22 Nebraska.
Down 71-70 on their final possession, the Badgers again targeted the 6-foot-3 junior, who had scored eight points in overtime.
Nebraska’s Emily Cady, though, anticipated the entry pass and secured the steal with 1.3 seconds remaining as the Huskers escaped with the one-point win.
“Emily came around and got the deflection,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. “She made a great defensive play.”
Yori lauded her team’s perseverance, as the Huskers fought through foul trouble and poor shooting in the first half. Yori also noted the play of Husker guard T’eara Laudermill, who battled illness while scoring 21 points, including five 3-pointers.
“Any win is a great win in this league,” Yori said. “On the road, it’s even a better win.”
Neither team led by more than two possessions at any point in the game, but Wisconsin built a 48-42 edge before Laudermill caught fire in the second half. Laudermill’s second 3-pointer of the game cut the edge to 48-45, and her third trimmed the margin to 50-48 with 4:40 left. Wisconsin led 52-48, before a Hallie Sample layup and another Laudermill 3 put NU up 53-52 with 3:23 left.
Wisconsin then got back-to-back layups from Johnson to regain the lead at 56-53 with 2:10 left, before All-America candidate Jordan Hooper nailed a 3-pointer with 1:53 left to tie the game at 56.
Hooper’s turnaround jumper with 36 seconds left tied the game at 60, ultimately sending it to overtime.
Wisconsin took a 64-62 lead after a pair of Johnson layups to open the overtime, but Laudermill and Hooper hit back-to-back 3-pointers to match Nebraska’s biggest lead of the game at 68-64 with 2:29 left in overtime. After a Johnson layup, Laudermill answered with a highlight reel finger roll of her own to keep NU’s edge at 70-66 with 1:58 to play. But back-to-back buckets by Johnson and Taylor Wurtz tied the score at 70 with 1:16 remaining.
Cady was fouled with 1:01 left and gave NU its only point of the night at the foul line by hitting her second free throw. The two defenses held down the stretch, as Cady’s steal secured the final margin.
Nebraska next plays at 2 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Michigan State at Pinnacle Bank Arena.