Published Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm / Updated at 1:15 am
basketball
Husker title hopes alive after comeback win

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Nebraska women's basketball team is still in the Big Ten title hunt after a 67-59 win at Ohio State, even if it took a big closing kick to beat the Buckeyes and keep pace with league-leading Penn State.

After sluggish play for 30 minutes, accented by three consecutive backcourt turnovers, the Huskers finished the game on a 26-9 run, including 17 straight points. OSU's Ameryst Alston, who scorched Nebraska for 31 points, went dormant just long enough for Huskers Rachel Theriot (26 points) and Jordan Hooper (24) to seize control.

“We grinded and our kids didn't give up,” coach Connie Yori said on her postgame radio show. “They were persistent. The game's not over until it's over.”

The league race isn't either. No. 17 Nebraska is now 20-5 overall and 10-3 in the Big Ten. Penn State — which beat Northwestern 82-73 Thursday night — is 21-5 and 12-2, but the No. 9 Nittany Lions visit Pinnacle Bank Arena Monday night for a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

Michigan State, at 9-3, also has a chance at the league crown. Yori, Hooper and Theriot did not field questions about the upcoming PSU game.

The Huskers' seven-game winning streak barely survived a cold-shooting night. Nebraska missed 18 of its first 20 shots, but still led 27-25 at halftime. NU extended that lead to 36-29 early in the second half.

Ohio State (14-15, 4-9) surged with a 21-5 run during which Alston hit several long 3-pointers and Nebraska couldn't get it out of its own backcourt, prompting Yori to call timeout.

“We kinda freaked out,” Hooper said. “After that happened, we sat down and settled down and went back to playing our game.”

With the Buckeyes leading 50-41, Hooper hit a 3-pointer at the 9:42 mark. She hit another with 7:06 to draw NU within 52-47. The Huskers took the lead for good at 54-52 on Tear'a Laudermill's 3-pointer with 3:46 left. As Nebraska scored 17 straight points, OSU missed six shots and committed five turnovers.

Yori credited Theriot, a Cleveland native playing in front of family and friends at Value City Arena, for keeping Nebraska afloat. Theriot played the entire 40 minutes.

“She made a ton of plays throughout the game,” Yori said. “When the shot clock's running down, we didn't have anything going, she just got to the basket.”

Nebraska outrebounded Ohio State 44-34 and forced 18 Buckeye turnovers. It's the third straight season in which the Huskers have won 20 games — the first such streak in school history.

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