OSU dominates early, but Nebraska wins

March, 3, 2012
03/03/12
7:22
PM ET
Rebecca Woodberry, Darryce MooreCal Sport Media/AP ImagesAfter trailing 21-8, Rebecca Woodberry and the Huskers turned the tables on OSU.

INDIANAPOLIS -- No one could have predicted that in the final minutes of Saturday's Big Ten semifinal, Nebraska coach Connie Yori would be emptying her bench, resting her starters for the next night's final.

But that's what happened inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Yori's Cornhuskers, who needed Saturday's victory over Ohio State to stay on the minds of the NCAA's selection committee, dominated the Buckeyes 77-62.

No one saw it coming.

For the first 10 minutes of Saturday's game, it looked like Nebraska would be the team flying home soon from Indianapolis. Everything looked right with Ohio State. The favored Buckeyes, the Big Ten's No. 2 seed, were stockpiling buckets, swarming on defense, and looked to be on their way to a lopsided victory over the sixth-seeded Cornhuskers.

Midway through the first, Ohio State had more than twice as many points as Nebraska, leading 21-8. But by the time the Buckeyes headed back to their halftime locker room, Nebraska had flipped the numbers on the scoreboard. The Cornhuskers ended the half on a 28-9 run to take a 36-30 lead.

Nebraska came out of the break playing the same way. The Cornhuskers, who made nine 3-pointers and got 21 points from star forward Jordan Hooper, had the victory in hand for nearly all of the second half.

Except for those first few minutes, Ohio State's offense looked like little more than a series of random dribbles around the perimeter. The Buckeyes finished 2-for-16 from behind the 3-point line. On the other end, the Cornhuskers were knocking down 3-pointers and grabbing offensive rebounds. Nebraska was running its offense as if on train tracks (15 assists on 26 field goals), putting together a crushing run of 38-11 across the halves.

With 6 minutes, 24 seconds left in the game, Nebraska forward Hailie Sample grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds, finally spinning the ball off the glass to put the Cornhuskers ahead 66-47.

Ohio State, which drops to 25-6, would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

Nebraska, now 24-7, will play in Sunday's final (ESPN2, 4 p.m. ET), facing the winner of Saturday's second semifinal between Penn State and Purdue.

Kate Fagan

Columnist, espnW.com

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