Huskers’ comeback falls short against Hawkeyes

IOWA CITY — The Hawkeyes held serve, no thanks to a few double-faults along the way.

The Iowa women’s basketball team went scoreless over the final 2 minutes, 4 seconds, but managed to hold off Nebraska 75-72 in Saturday’s Big Ten Conference tilt inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Megan Gustafson’s final bucket in the lane gave Iowa (10-5, 1-1) its largest lead of the game, 75-63, but the Hawkeyes did not score again. The visiting Cornhuskers outscored Iowa 9-0 over the final two minutes, but Hannah Whitish’s last-second 3-point attempt was off the mark.

Iowa went 0-for-6 from the free-throw line inside the final 35 seconds to help fuel the comeback attempt by the Cornhuskers (4-10, 0-2).

“We made it as hard as possible to end this game,” said Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder. “Ironically, we had the people we wanted [in] there. Thankfully we had built up enough of a lead that we could handle it. But we know we can’t do that in close contests.”

Gustafson was a huge part of the Hawkeye victory, leading her team with 22 points and nine rebounds. The 6-foot-3 sophomore has scored 20 points or more seven times this season.

Yet six consecutive free-throw misses — two each for Kathleen Doyle, Tania Davis and Chase Coley — kept Nebraska in the game.

Jessica Shepard’s 3-pointer with :59 seconds left got the Huskers back to within six, 75-69, and Whitish made 1-of-2 free throws after Doyle’s back-to-back misses at the charity stripe. Nebraska followed up Davis’s misses with an Allie Havers layup with 9 seconds remaining, and Coley came up empty at the line on the other end with the opportunity to seal the victory.

Instead, Nebraska got one last chance, but Whitish was unable to add to her career-high 14-point night.

“We’re never going to be satisfied with a loss, but I really loved the fight of our team in the final minutes to come back from 12 points down to have a shot to send it to overtime,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said. “We could have made so many plays to put us in a better position, but I think our players see that and will continue to get better and learn from it.”

Behind Gustafson, the Hawkeyes got 16 points from Ally Disterhoft. Davis finished with 11 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals, while Doyle ended with 10 points and six assists.

Iowa was a dismal 11-for-21 from the free-throw line as a team and got outrebounded by Nebraska 46-38.

Shepard’s 28 points led the Cornhuskers, who lost for the eighth time in their last nine games. Whitish added 14, Havers had 12 and Nicea Eliely had 11. Nebraska got just four points from its bench.

Iowa returns to action Tuesday, facing Penn State at 7 p.m. in University Park, Pa. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

Iowa 75, Nebraska 72

NEBRASKA (4-10, 0-2) — Shepard 11-22 4-5 28, Havers 6-12 0-0 12, Whitish 4-7 3-4 14, Eliely 5-11 0-1 11, Cincore 1-9 1-2 3, Jensen 0-2 0-0 0, Wood 0-1 0-0 0, Mitchell 1-1 0-0 2, Simon 0-3 0-0 0, Washington 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS 29-70 8-12 72.

IOWA (10-5, 1-1) — Buttenham 1-3 0-0 2, Gustafson 9-12 4-6 22, Disterhoft 6-15 0-0 16, Davis 5-11 0-2 11, Doyle 3-10 4-7 10, Kastanek 0-0 0-0 0, Meyer 1-3 3-4 6, Coley 3-7 0-2 6, Stewart 1-4 0-0 2. TOTALS 29-65 11-21 75.

NEBRASKA 11 25 18 18 — 72

IOWA 17 22 22 14 — 75

3-Point Goals–Nebraska 6-20 (Whitish 3-5, Shepard 2-4, Eliely 1-4, Wood 0-1, Cincore 0-2, Jensen 0-2, Simon 0-2), Iowa 6-21 (Disterhoft 4-9, Meyer 1-3, Davis 1-4, Buttenham 0-1, Doyle 0-4). Total Fouls–Nebraska 17, Iowa 11. Rebounds–Nebraska 46 (Cincore 11), Iowa 38 (Gustafson 9). Assists-Nebraska 13 (Whitish 4), Iowa 19 (Davis 8). Fouled out–none. A–6,750.