Jan. 2, 2014
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Northwestern opened up the 2014 Big Ten slate Thursday, playing on the road at No. 18/15 Nebraska. The Wildcats went toe-to-toe with the preseason conference favorites but Nebraska took the narrow 66-65 victory.
NU freshman guard Christen Inman led the team with 19 points on a perfect 8-of-8 from the field. Fellow freshman Nia Coffey added 16 points while sophomore Lauren Douglas chipped in 13 points off the bench, all coming in the second half. Freshman point guard, 5-foot-4 Ashley Deary, grabbed a career-high nine rebounds to go along with seven assists.
Northwestern got out to a 10-5 lead before the first media timeout thanks to four points each by Alex Cohen and Christen Inman. Cohen scored on back-to-back NU possessions and Inman added another two to give the Wildcats the five-point cushion with 15:51 left in the first. Maggie Lyon, who entered Thursday's game draining 50 percent of her 3-pointers in the last five games, knocked down her lone shot of the game from long-distance to put the Wildcats ahead 17-10.
Nebraska struggled offensively in the early stages of the game, shooting just 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from the field while NU was at 50 percent (8-of-16). Despite the poor shooting, the Huskers pulled within one (19-18) off a baseline jumper by Rachel Theriot, but Inman gave the Wildcats a three-point lead with two on the other end.
Five straight points by reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, Jordan Hooper, put Nebraska back on top 23-21 but Nia Coffey tied things up once again. That would be the first of four ties to end the half as things were all knotted up at 35-35 heading into the break.
Inman led all players with 11 points in the first frame on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field, including one from long-distance. Coffey chipped in nine points as the Wildcats shot 48.4 percent from the field (15-of-31). Nebraska picked up offensively as Hooper and Theriot each had 10 points with the Huskers improving to 40.5 percent from the field.
The second half started much like the first. Nebraska had an early four-point lead but NU erased that right away and went back on top 40-39 with 17:22 left to play. The Wildcats continued to stay on top with a second-chance bucket by Inman and the first bucket of the game for Lauren Douglas putting them ahead 46-41 with 12:39 to play.
Two more by Douglas but NU ahead by six (50-44) but then Nebraska went on an 11-2 run, including a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down, to re-take the lead at 55-52. The Huskers continued their run, leading by seven (61-54) with 6:17 to play but NU once again went back on top at 63-61 following a Lauren Douglas 3-pointer. Two free throws by Inman gave NU a four-point cushion but Nebraska came back once again, draining a 3-pointer and Theriot added two more to go ahead 66-65 with 1:26 remaining.
After a Wildcat turnover, Nebraska missed a shot on the other end, giving Northwestern the ball back with 16.1 seconds to play. Lyon had a great look from 3-point range that just missed. NU fouled the Huskers quickly and Theriot missed the front end of the bonus, giving the Wildcats one last shot but Ashley Deary was unable to get her half-court heave off before time expired, giving Nebraska the narrow 66-65 win.
Northwestern returns to Welsh-Ryan Arena to host its Big Ten home-opener Monday, Jan. 6 vs. Illinois. This is the lone meeting of the year between the in-state rivals and tip-off is set for 6 p.m. in Evanston.
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