LINCOLN, Neb. - The Nebraska women's basketball team rallied from a 25-point second-quarter deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but No. 18 Indiana made two plays and two free throws in the final minute to escape with a 57-53 win over the Huskers in front of a season-high 6,160 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Nebraska slipped to 15-9 overall and 5-8 in the Big Ten, while Indiana improved to 19-6 overall and 9-4 in the conference.
Indiana bolted to a 12-0 lead in the game's first four minutes, led 26-6 at the end of one quarter, then pushed the margin to 36-11 with six minutes left in the first half. But the Huskers scratched their way back into it by outscoring the Hoosiers in the second (17-15), third (17-10) and fourth quarter (13-6).
After trailing 41-23 at the half, the Huskers went to the fourth trailing 51-40. The Big Red then shut out the Hoosiers for the first seven minutes of the final quarter, putting together an 11-0 run to tie the game for the first time at 51 on a jumper by Kate Cain with 3:18 left. Cain was the only Husker to produce double figures in the contest, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds and five blocked shots.
Indiana got a pair of Grace Berger free throws to end a nearly 10-minute scoring drought with 2:50 left and regain the lead, but Nicea Eliely answered with a putback of a Hannah Whitish miss with 1:45 left to tie the game again at 53. Eliely finished with six points and five rebounds.
Berger then made the game's final field goal on a driving layup with 30 seconds left to give the Hoosiers the lead for good at 55-53. Berger finished with nine points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Her fourth-quarter basket was the only field goal for IU in the game's final 14 minutes.
Nebraska was unable to answer, as Eliely was whistled for an offensive foul with 19 seconds left. Jaelyn Penn made two free throws with 18 seconds left to seal the victory for Indiana. Penn finished with a game-high 14 points for the Hoosiers. Ali Patberg had 10 points and four assists, while Brenna Wise, who drew the charge on Eliely in the closing seconds, put three Hoosiers in double figures with 10 points. Aleksa Gulbe and Mackenzie Holmes each added seven points to complete the scoring for Indiana.
Nebraska outscored Indiana 30-16 in the second half, holding the Hoosiers to just six points and one field goal in the final quarter. The 57 points allowed were the fewest surrendered to a Big Ten team by the Huskers this season. NU gave up just 21 points to the Hoosiers in the game's final 26 minutes, but Nebraska's 53 points scored also marked the lowest total of the season for the Big Red.
Freshman Isabelle Bourne finished with seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Huskers, while Leigha Brown added seven points, four boards, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
For the game, Nebraska out-shot the Hoosiers, connecting on 36.1 percent (22-61) of its field goals, including 27.8 percent (5-18) of its threes. Indiana connected on just 30.4 percent (21-69) of its shots, including 4-of-15 threes (.267). Indiana finished 11-for-16 (.688) at the line, while Nebraska went 4-for-8. The Hoosiers out-rebounded the Huskers, 49-43, but the two teams were tied at six in second-chance points. Indiana won the turnover battle, 16-10, outscoring NU 13-9 in points off turnovers.
Nebraska struggled through its worst opening quarter of the season, going the first four minutes without scoring as Indiana opened the game on a 12-0 run. The Hoosiers closed the quarter with a 26-6 lead. IU's lead grew as large as 25 points at 36-11 midway through the second quarter, before the Huskers got a spark from a lineup featuring freshmen Trinity Brady, Makenzie Helms and Bourne.
After a Cain basket with 5:33 left in the half got Nebraska started, Brady, an Indiana native, knocked down a three-pointer to cut the Hoosier lead to 36-16. Brady followed with a 15-foot jumper with 3:32 left, before Helms added a layup in transition and was fouled. Helms hit the free throw for the first three-point play of her collegiate career to cut Indiana's lead to 36-21 and cap a 10-0 Nebraska run. Helms, who had played just 22 minutes in six games this season including just one minute in Big Ten action, finished with career highs of three points and three assists in seven minutes against the Hoosiers.
Nebraska's defense held Indiana to just five points in the final six minutes of the half, but the Hoosiers still took a 41-23 lead to halftime.
After going 2-for-17 from the field in the first quarter, Nebraska hit 6-of-15 shots in the second quarter to cut into the Indiana lead. In the half, the Huskers hit just 25 percent (8-32) of their shots, including 3-of-12 threes, while connecting on 4-of-7 free throws. The Huskers were also out-rebounded 29-22 and lost the first-half turnover battle, 8-4.
Indiana hit 41 percent (16-39) of its first-half field goals, including 3-of-9 threes, while connecting on 6-of-10 free throws. Penn led Indiana with 10 first-half points and three rebounds, while Berger added three points and 10 rebounds.
Indiana maintained a 50-33 lead after a Patberg shot with 4:10 left, but the Huskers held the Hoosiers without a field goal for the final 4:09 of the quarter, outscoring the Hoosiers 7-1 down the stretch in the third, starting with a three-pointer by Whitish and back-to-back baskets by Bourne to close the period. The 7-1 surge to end the third was part of an 18-1 outburst over an 11-minute span that culminated with Cain's jumper to tie the game at 51 with 3:18 left.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten home action on Thursday night when the Huskers take on Penn State. Tip-off between the Big Red and the Nittany Lions is set for 7 p.m.