Sophomore guard Sam Haiby made a game-tying three-pointer with 4 seconds left in regulation to send the Nebraska women’s basketball game Sunday against Missouri to overtime, and the Huskers went on to win 90-85 in Columbia, Missouri.
Haiby led the Huskers with a career-high 28 points. Early in the game, she was aggressive getting layups, and scored Nebraska’s first eight points. Haiby finished with three three-pointers.
Leigha Brown added 24 points for Nebraska, which won both games in the first week of the season. It was a good win for the Huskers against a Missouri team that won 10 more games than Nebraska last season. The Tigers have made the NCAA Tournament four straight years.
Nebraska looked in trouble at the end of regulation when Missouri led 76-73 with 11 seconds left and was shooting free throws. But freshman Aijha Blackwell -- the No. 9 national recruit in the freshman class -- missed both.
Before that, it was free throws that helped Missouri keep the game close, with the Tigers outscoring the Huskers by 11 points on free throws.
After the second miss, Haiby got the important defensive rebound,and then quickly got up the floor. Haiby took a pass from Brown and made an open corner three-pointer with 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 76.
Haiby said the play wasn’t designed to go to her, but Brown did a great job of seeing that Haiby could get a good shot. Haiby had about 15 friends and family at the game.
“It was incredible,” said Haiby in a postgame radio interview. “Leigha made a great read off of that. She got double-teamed and saw me in the corner, and to be able to put that shot in in front of all of my friends and family was pretty awesome.”
Nebraska led for most of the game. A few times Missouri got its deficit cut to two points, but Nebraska quickly fought off the Tigers with a basket. Then Haiby’s three-pointer at the end of regulation helped Nebraska fend off Missouri one final time.
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The Huskers had a great start to overtime when senior forward Grace Mitchell scored on a layup. Nebraska never trailed in overtime, and got some big free throws from Ashtyn Veerbeek and Haiby in the final 25 seconds. Nebraska made all six free throws in overtime.
The win led to some fun moments in the locker room.
“It was crazy,” Haiby said. “A lot of energy, and Coach (Amy Williams) came in screaming. We were all super-excited after that big win.”
Nebraska led for most of the first 40 minutes of the game. Missouri didn’t have a lead in the game until 2:07 left in the fourth quarter on a basket and free throw by Amber Smith.
Missouri took its largest lead, 76-73, points during a stretch when Nebraska missed 9-of-11 shots from the field.
Depth is usually a strength of the Huskers, but Nebraska didn’t have five players available at the end of overtime. Taylor Kissinger and Trinity Brady are injured, and then Nebraska’s best defensive player, Nicea Eliely, fouled out with five minutes left in the fourth. Kayla Mershon and Hannah Whitish also fouled out.
“There was a lot of adverse things that we had to overcome in this situation, and just really, really proud of the contributions that we got from all over,” Williams said.
Whitish had a good all-around game with 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals. She also took a few offensive charges.
Blackwell led Missouri with 21 points.
This was a good early-season boost to the Huskers, after NU lost so many close games last season.
“The reason you schedule nonconference games like this is so that it can really help you grow, and I think that we’re seeing some growth out of our team,” Williams said.
-- Brent C. Wagner