Huskers defeat their “nemesis” Purdue 69 – 59


On an uncharacteristically warm Winter night in Lincoln, the Nebraska women’s basketball team “climbed the mountain” to defeat the Purdue women’s basketball squad 69 – 59. The victory signaled the end of the Huskers 5-game losing streak to Purdue. The Huskers hoped to ride the momentum from their three-game win streak into this match up while Purdue hoped to bring an end to their three-game losing streak. Fans began to file into the Arena.

Husker Coach Connie Yori says before every game that EACH game is big for her squad. But this match-up has to be the BIGGEST. Despite what coaches say about never looking ahead on the schedule to the BIG games, you have to believe that both Nebraska and Purdue checked the schedule looking for this game. Catch up on their history in “Husker and Purdue rivalry“.

Connie Yori’s squad demonstrated the definition of “team” last night. Responsibility for both offense and defense was shared by all. During the first 6 minutes of the game, the lead changed hands a few times but Nebraska never trailed by more than 3.  A 10 -10 tie was broken by freshman Natalie Romeo coming off the bench to sink a 3-point bucket. From that point on, Nebraska never looked back.

6 different Huskers scored while forcing Purdue into 6 turnovers! Freshman Chandler Smith made the first basket of her collegiate career with 5:01 left in the first half. The always knowledgeable Husker crowd arose in recognition of it. This was just Smith’s third game after missing 14 games with injury. An energized Husker team then went to the locker room leading 33-24.

The second half saw Purdue attempt one of those comebacks. Boilermakers steadily shot their way back to a 41 -38 deficit with 11 minutes to go. Coach Yori, looking for a spark, sent in Chandler Smith who got an open look and scored her first career 3-pointer from the right corner to bring Nebraska’s lead back to 44-38 with 10:47 left.

Down the stretch, the Husker defense broke down a bit allowing Purdue to score some easy baskets. Even though Nebraska built up 12-point leads twice, the Boilermakers battled back but got no closer than 4 points the rest of the game. In the last 3 minutes, the Huskers made sure the ball was in Rachel Theriot’s hands. One of the nation’s leaders in free throw percentage, Coach Yori wanted her best shooter at the line as Purdue would be fouling in an attempt to get the ball back. Theriot went 7 – 7 at the line helping to secure the final score of Nebraska 69 – Purdue 59.

As Coach Yori headed across the floor for her post game interviews, she let out a HUGE sigh of relief and flashed a quick smile.  In her usual fashion Coach Yori boiled it down to facts with BTN’s Debbie Antonelli. Asked about the win, Yori said “we made shots and we made free throws.” Continuing with the Husker Sports Network, Coach commented further.  “Any win is a good win. Our kids were “tuff” – T U F F -“tuff.” As big as this win was for us, in this league you get to celebrate for a few minutes and then you get back to work.”

More from Husker Corner

A victory or a loss in this game was going to set the tone for the rest of the season. Purdue, B1G Ten regular season co-champions last year, left Lincoln with more questions than answers. Nebraska now moves forward with renewed confidence as they seek to repeat as Big Ten tournament champions.

Huskers go on the road Thursday taking on the Lady Badgers in Madison. The tip is scheduled for 7pm (CST).  Stay tuned for further updates and as always, GO BIG RED!!