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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern upset by Nebraska 65-63

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Not the outing Northwestern hoped for to close out 2020.

It wasn’t the Wildcats’ day.

No. 15 Northwestern (4-1, 2-1 B1G) fell to unranked Nebraska (4-3, 2-2 B1G) 65-63 due to a dismal offensive performance, bringing an end to its undefeated start.

Northwestern struggled from the field, shooting just 35%, including 31% from three and connecting on only 10-of-22 free throws. The Wildcats looked rusty on both ends of the floor, as they were outrebounded 47-to-35 by the Huskers, though they still forced 24 Nebraska turnovers.

Lindsey Pulliam led the Wildcats with 19 points, four assists and three rebounds while Veronica Burton, Jordan Hamilton Sydney Wood added 15, 12 and 12 points, respectively. Northwestern’s bench did not contribute a single score, but only seven players saw the court in the matchup.

Pulliam started the game hot, hitting her first two shots, but Nebraska nailed a pair of threes to take a 6-5 lead. NU went cold for three minutes, and Nebraska extended its lead to five halfway through the quarter as it seemingly held all the momentum. But right on cue, Burton started to heat up, creating back-to-back plays that sparked a 9-0 Northwestern run to retake a 19-15 lead.

While they played aggressively early on, crashing the boards and coming away with steals, the Wildcats struggled to convert shots on second-chance opportunities, allowing Nebraska to tie it back up with under a minute to play. However, Pulliam hit another jumper as the clock wound down to add to her nine first-quarter points and give NU the 21-19 lead at the break.

The Wildcats came out firing early in the second and extended their lead to 29-23 by the seven-minute mark. But the Huskers continued to dominate the boards, out-rebounding NU 26-to-15 in the half and converting 13 points on 11 offensive boards. Their hustle and sharp three-point shooting allowed them to erase NU’s lead and tie the game at 34. The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the half, but Northwestern was able to enter the break with a slight 38-36 advantage.

NU’s offensive performance just got worse in the third quarter as the Wildcats did not hit a field goal until nine second remained in the period. Nebraska regained the lead immediately as the quarter began, and Northwestern did not score for the first five minutes of the quarter until Pulliam hit a free throw. Nebraska continued to extend its lead all the way to seven until a free throw from Wood and Burton layup cut the Husker lead to 49-45 after three.

Nebraska continued to shine in the fourth quarter, extending its lead to nine early in the frame, but Northwestern refused to give up and slowly started chipping away at the Husker lead. With under five minutes to play, the Wildcats cut the lead to 56-52 thanks to a big corner three from Hamilton and Pulliam continuing to put the team on her back.

The Wildcats’ last-minute effort tied the game at 61 with 90 seconds remaining and again at 63 with under a minute to play thanks to a valiant effort from Hamilton, but a Sam Haiby hit a buzzer-beater layup off another offensive board to secure the Nebraska win.

Haiby led the Huskers with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Ashley Scoggin and Isabelle Bourne added 11 points each.

Northwestern will host No. 16 Michigan (6-0, 1-0 B1G) for a top-25 showdown to kick off 2021 on Sunday at 4 p.m. CST.