MADISON, Wis. – Despite taking No. 22 Nebraska into overtime, the Wisconsin women's basketball team came up just short on Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, falling to the Huskers 71-70.
"Obviously we're very disappointed in the game," said UW head coach Bobbie Kelsey. "I don't have much to say other than I'm proud of them. We let them hit some threes that we shouldn't have, but other than that, I thought we played a great game. It came down to one play and we didn't hit it, so there you go.
"But I don't want to take anything away from Nebraska. They're a great team, that's why they're ranked in the national rankings. It's well-deserved. They've got great players."
Following the loss, Wisconsin falls to 3-7 in Big Ten Conference play (10-12 overall) and Nebraska improves to 6-3 (16-5).
With 51 seconds left in regulation, Taylor Wurtz nailed two free throws to put the Badgers up 60-58, but Nebraska's Jordan Hooper followed with a big play, hitting a jumper to tie the game at 60-60 with 36 seconds remaining.
The Badgers had a chance to win the game, but Morgan Paige couldn't make a play while driving to the basket before slipping and turning it over. The Huskers couldn't get off a shot before time expired, sending the game in to overtime.
"Sometimes Morgan needs to realize if she's not there, to turn around and throw it out," said Kelsey. "But she's trying to make a play. You can't be mad at the kid. If she would've made it, I wouldn't be saying anything.
"So you just go with it. She lost her footing, and if she didn't, she probably would've had something."
Despite Michala Johnson's eight points in overtime, the Badgers couldn't capitalize on their final opportunity.
Johnson opened overtime with a layup to put the Badgers up 62-60 with 4:45 remaining, but the Huskers matched UW with a basket of their own.
With 1:22 to play in OT, Wurtz's lay-in tied the game at 70, but a foul at the other end by Johnson sent Nebraska's Emily Cady to the free throw line. Cady missed the first but made the second free throw to put the Huskers up by one (71-70) with 1:02 remaining.
Following Cady's free throw both teams missed opportunities, giving the Badgers 18 seconds to get off a last-second shot. But Cady picked up a steal with one second remaining, sealing the win for the Huskers.
The two teams battled through 10 tied scores and six lead changes and the statistics reflected the balance. Neither team led by more than six points in the game
The Badgers finished the game shooting 44.3 percent (27-of-61), including a season-best 7-for-9 (77.8 percent) performance beyond the arc. The Huskers shot 30-of-69 (43.5 percent) and hit 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) from 3-point range.
Wisconsin got to the line 14 times, making nine for 64.3 percent, while Nebraska went to the line just five times, making one for 20 percent.
The Badgers had three players score in double-digits behind a game-high 24 points from Johnson, with 22 points coming in the second half and overtime. Wurtz recorded her sixth double-double of the season and her second straight with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Paige rounded out UW's double-figure scoring with 11 points.
All five of Nebraska's starters finished the game in double figures led by Tear'a Laudermill's 21 points. The guard went 5-for-10 from 3-point range with four makes coming in the second half. Emily Cady recorded a double-double for the Huskers with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Rachel Theriot also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists.
The Badgers outrebounded Nebraska 40-38, but committed four more turnovers, finishing with 12.
Wisconsin led the Huskers 26-21 at the end of the first half, holding Nebraska to its lowest first-half point total of the season.
"We played tough like coach said, but we don't like moral victories," said Wurtz. "We just have to get back into the gym, watch the film, and correct the little mistakes. Now we know that we can play with anybody in this league, and we're going to make a statement towards the end of the season."
The Badgers battle Indiana when Wisconsin travels to Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday. Tip-off is set for noon. UW returns to the Kohl Center on Feb. 12 for a 7 p.m. game against Minnesota.
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