Lincoln, Neb. — Sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot erupted for a career highs of 33 points and nine assists to carry the No. 18 Nebraska women's basketball team back from a 14-point second-half deficit to an 88-85 overtime win at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday night.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten, while improving to 11-1 at home. Minnesota slipped to 12-6 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
Theriot outdueled Minnesota first-team All-Big Ten guard Rachel Banham, who also had a huge night. Banham scored 33 points on 12-of-28 shooting while hitting 6-of-13 threes and all three of her free throws. She added eight assists.
Theriot, a 6-0 guard from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, produced her career bests on 11-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from long range, while knocking down all eight of her free throws. She did not commit a turnover and added a huge steal that eventually led to a go-ahead three-pointer by Emily Cady late in regulation.
Theriot's last two free throws came with 14.9 seconds left in overtime for the final points of the game to seal Nebraska's victory.
Theriot, who entered the game averaging 11.9 points and 5.9 assists, scored 12 in the first half. She was about the only Husker gun firing in the first half, as the Big Red hit just 28.1 percent of their shots but only trailed 32-29 at the break.
Minnesota came out of the halftime locker room on fire, connecting on its first five three-point attempts in the first six minutes of the half to build its biggest lead at 53-39 on a Banham three-pointer with 13:40 left in the game.
But Theriot scored 17 points in the final 14 minutes of regulation before adding four in the overtime period for the Huskers.
She was far from Nebraska's lone hero in the second half and overtime. Cady, who was straddled with early foul trouble and was held scoreless in the game's first 17-plus minutes, scored NU's final six points of the first half. Cady, who finished with her third straight double-double with 23 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, added 12 points, including a pair of huge threes in the final 12:35 of regulation.
Her first three cut Minnesota's lead to 67-63 with 5:12 left. Her second came with 1:39 left in regulation and gave Nebraska a 76-73 lead - the Big Red's first lead since 14-13 midway through the first half.
Junior guard Brandi Jeffery added three big three-pointers in the second half and scored all 10 of her points off the bench after halftime to help the Huskers.
Senior All-American Jordan Hooper added a double-double as well with 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Huskers. Hooper, who became just the fourth 2,000-point scorer in Nebraska history on a three-pointer early in the second half, struggled from the field. She hit just 7-of-24 shots, including 2-of-11 threes. She did score four points for the Huskers in the final 3:22 of regulation and NU's first two points of the overtime. She finished the night with 2,008 points and 978 career rebounds, after posting the 34th double-double of her career.
The Huskers hit 50 percent (17-34) of their second-half shots, including 7-of-13 threes. NU finished 40.3 percent (29-72) from the floor for the game, including 10-of-27 from long range. The Huskers also hit 20-of-23 free throws. Nebraska outrebounded Minnesota 45-40, and won the turnover battle 10-6. It was a season-best turnover mark for NU, including just two after halftime.
Despite the major contributions from four Huskers, Minnesota was in control for a majority of the game. The Golden Gophers outshot Nebraska from the field (45.2 percent) and three-point range (11-26, 42.3 percent).
Sari Noga hit three straight threes early in the second half to help Minnesota push the lead to double digits. She finished with 15 points and five rebounds, including 4-of-9 shooting from long range.
Micaella Riche added 11 points and eight rebounds, while going 5-of-6 from the field, and Shayne Mullaney put four Gophers in double figures with 10 points and five assists.
It looked like Nebraska was going to rally and win in regulation,but a three-pointer by Banham with six seconds left sent the game to NU's first overtime of the season tied at 78.
The Huskers return to home action at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon when they take on No. 22 Purdue. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Boilermakers is set for 4 p.m. with tickets available now on Huskers.com.
The Game will be televised nationally by BTN and available on radio on the Husker Sports Network, including a free audio stream on Huskers.com.
After Riche opened the extra period with a free throw, Hooper hit a jumper to put NU up 80-79. Minnesota redshirt freshman center Amanda Zahui answered with her third field goal of the night to put the Gophers back up with 3:38 to play, before Cady gave the Huskers the lead back at 82-81 with 2:22 left.
Theriot then pushed the lead to 84-81 with a jumper with 1:36 left before Banham immediately answered with a jumper of her own.
Cady hit the second of two free throws with 44.6 left, before Jeffery added the second of two free throws to make it 86-83 Nebraska with 27.1 to play.
Banham hit the last shot of the night for the Gophers with 16 seconds left to cut it to 86-85, before Theriot sealed the win her two free throws with 14.9 left.
After leading the game 14-10, the Huskers gave up an 11-0 Minnesota run to fall behind 21-14. NU trailed 23-16 before Theriot scored hit back-to-back shots, including a three-pointer with 4:13 left to trim the margin to 23-21.
The Gophers responded to push the lead back to five, but six straight points from Cady to end the half pulled the Huskers within three at the break.
Banham led Minnesota with 16 first-half points, including four three-pointers in the first half, while Riche added eight points on 4-of-4 shooting to go along with six rebounds. However, Riche picked up her third foul with 10 seconds left in the half. Minnesota hit 36.1 percent (13-36) of its first-half shots, including 5-of-15 three-pointers.
Nebraska won the first-half rebound battle, 25-23, and both teams committed just four turnovers.
---------------------------------------- 1st 2nd OT Total Minnesota 32 46 7 85 Nebraska (18) 29 49 10 88 ----------------------------------------