One of the things that Nebraska women’s basketball coach Amy Williams is most passionate about is defending the home-court advantage.
That didn’t happen for the Huskers, however, in an 80-74 overtime loss Sunday against Ohio State at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska let a 15-point, third-quarter lead gradually slip away, but it looked the worst in two stretches — when Ohio State ended regulation on a 6-0 run, and when the Buckeyes ended overtime on an 8-0 run, after Nebraska had led in the extra period.
So Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament résumé took a hit this week, with losses against unranked teams in Minnesota and Ohio State. Nebraska (15-7, 5-6 Big Ten) has lost five of its last seven games, and now probably put itself in a spot where it needs to win some games against the four ranked teams it has remaining on its schedule.
Junior guard Braxtin Miller scored 17 points to lead the Buckeyes (12-9, 5-5).
Nebraska outscored Ohio State 39-17 over the final 14 minutes of the first half to lead 49-34 at halftime. The Huskers had success getting the ball inside to Kate Cain and Isabelle Bourne, and also shot 60% on three-pointers in the first half (6-for-10).
But Nebraska scored just 19 points in the second half, and then six in overtime.
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“It’s just such a tough, disappointing loss at home,” Williams said. “Just very difficult. It was probably one of the best halves of basketball that this team has played, and then one of the worst halves of basketball that this team has played. And we know that’s not good enough to win in the Big Ten.”
Ohio State dominated the Huskers on rebounding, 64-49, including pulling down 25 offensive rebounds. The Buckeyes scored 20 second-chance points, and Nebraska just three. Nebraska also had 18 turnovers in the game.
In the third and fourth quarters combined, Nebraska was just 4-for-28 from the field. For the game, Nebraska had 18 missed layups.
The misses in the second half weren't good, but were made worse by all the other ways Nebraska wasn’t playing well.
“I’m not mad about missed shots,” Williams said. “I think we know that if we’re getting layups or shots in the paint that we have to make those. Missed shots is nothing to get mad about. Turnovers are something to get mad about, missed box-outs are something to get mad about, missed defensive assignments where you’re trying to force them to use a ball screen, and you let them reject a ball screen. Those kind of mistakes are things to get mad about.”
Nebraska actually had the better start to overtime, and took a 73-72 lead on a three-pointer by Hannah Whitish with 3:08 remaining. Nebraska stretched its lead to 74-72, but then had a bad stretch.
Cain missed a jumpshot, which she probably could have gotten closer to the basket for. Then the Buckeyes got an offensive rebound off a missed three-pointer, a putback and were then fouled for a three-point play. Nebraska then gave up a turnover with 50 seconds left, and Miller made a jumper, capping a 6-0 run that took just 32 seconds.
Cain said Nebraska probably let the missed shots in the second half get to them, including herself in overtime.
“We definitely could have come out in overtime with more fire,” Cain said. “I know that last bunny I missed, I couldn’t miss that. It was one of those things I knew I couldn’t miss it, and when I was shooting I knew I couldn’t miss it, and then I missed it. Especially in close games like that, you know that these shots matter. I don’t know if that was what it was like for everybody, but for me at that moment I know it was.”
Whitish led Nebraska with 16 points. Cain had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while adding 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots. Bourne added career highs with 13 points, three blocks and two steals.