Connect with us

Women's Hoops

Huskers Push No. 3 Iowa to Brink in Heartbreaking Big Ten Title Game Loss

If you weren’t convinced the Nebraska women’s basketball program is headed in the right direction under Amy Williams, the Huskers’ gritty performance in the Big Ten Tournament championship should eliminate any remaining doubts.

In front of over 18,000 fans and a national TV audience, fifth-seeded Nebraska took No. 3 Iowa to the absolute brink before falling 94-89 in an overtime thriller on Sunday in Minneapolis. The Hawkeyes, winners of three straight Big Ten Tournament titles, needed every ounce of star power from Caitlin Clark to fend off the determined Huskers.

“I’m just so proud of the fight and resolve this team showed all week,” said Williams. “We went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in America and had a real chance to pull off the upset. While it’s heartbreaking to come up just short, this team represented Nebraska in an incredibly impressive manner.”

Junior center Alexis Markowski was simply sensational, tying the school record with her 40th career double-double by erupting for 23 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. The first-team All-Big Ten pick was at her brilliant best, carrying the Huskers for long stretches.

Natalie Potts, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was also huge for NU, pouring in 21 points and grabbing 9 boards. Senior point guard Jaz Shelley flirted with a triple-double, posting 16 points, a career-high 13 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

As they’d done all week, the Huskers came out firing and landed the first punches against Iowa. They raced out to a 16-5 lead in the opening quarter behind a barrage of threes, and led 46-35 at halftime.

Nebraska maintained that working margin through the third quarter and led 75-67 with under three minutes remaining in regulation after a Shelley free throw. But Clark, as she’s done so often in her legendary career, found a way to will Iowa back.

Her driving layup with 29 seconds left knotted it at 77-77, and the Hawkeyes got a final stop to force the extra session. Clark scored 8 of her 34 points in overtime, while Kate Martin buried a trio of clutch threes for Iowa.

Freshman Logan Nissley gave NU fans one final thrill, drilling back-to-back threes to put the Huskers up 87-86 with a minute left in OT. But Clark and Iowa had the final answer, ending Nebraska’s remarkable run.

While the loss was gut-wrenching in the moment, Williams and her team have plenty to be proud of. After a solid regular season netted the program’s third 22-win campaign in the last three years, the Huskers proved over four days that they can go swing for swing with any team in the nation.

“The future is bright here,” said Markowski, who was named to the All-Tournament team along with Shelley. “We have a championship-caliber culture and enough talent coming back that I really believe we can take another big step forward next season.”

Big things are brewing for the Huskers. Getting to the Big Ten title game and playing Iowa to the bitter end should only add fuel to those lofty aspirations.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


Must See

Advertisement Enter ad code here



More in Women's Hoops