No comeback was necessary this time. Northwestern jumped out to a 25-6 lead against the 21st ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Wildcats held off the Huskers' second half comeback to win 59-51 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
In their last two outings, Northwestern got off to sloppy starts. At halftime, they were behind Purdue and Michigan by seven and ten points, respectively.
Against Nebraska Wednesday, Northwestern never trailed. The Wildcats started on an 8-0 run, and behind stellar defense, pushed all the way to a 43-19 lead six minutes into the second half.
That's when Nebraska turned it on. The Cornhuskers went on a 19-3 run to make it 46-38, forcing Joe McKeown to call a timeout with less than four minutes remaining.
Riding a five-game winning streak, Northwestern re-gained composure and finished strong. The Wildcats shot 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to secure an 8-point victory.
Nia Coffey recorded her sixth consecutive double-double, finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds. The sophomore forward also had four blocks in the win.
Christen Inman saw action for the first time since Feb. 5, playing eight minutes and grabbing one rebound. She certainly didn't look to be at 100 percent, but it's a good sign to see her back on the floor. Inman missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
A total of four Wildcats scored in double figures. Lauren Douglas poured in 15 points on 6-10 shooting in what was her best outing since returning from injury. Ashley Deary and Karly Roser each chipped in 10 points and five assists as well.
Northwestern's defensive efforts were what won this game though. Nebraska made just three of 28 field goal attempts in the first half. Senior guard Tear'a Laudermill accumulated 20 points, but it took 23 shots for her to do so.
Outside a lousy stretch in the middle of the second half, NU maintained the defensive intensity. The Cornhuskers finished 19-65 from the field and 5-23 on three pointers.
The victory moves Northwestern to 20-6 and 10-5 in conference. The Wildcats are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big Ten with Minnesota Ohio State. Rutgers sits just ahead of them at 11-4, and Nebraska drops to 8-7 and sixth in the conference.
Northwestern's tournament resume gets a huge boost by beating Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are the only team currently ranked in the AP top 25 that NU has defeated. The Wildcats' run at the big dance continues Sunday when they face Wisconsin (8-16, 4-10) in Madison.