Nebraska led 51-49 with four minutes left, but Michigan made enough plays down the stretch to escape with a 67-61 women's basketball win over the Huskers on Thursday night at Crisler Arena.
The loss dropped Nebraska to 5-7 in the Big Ten and 10-13 overall, while the Wolverines improved to 15-9 and 6-6 in the conference by splitting the season series with the Huskers.
In a low-scoring fourth quarter, Nebraska held Michigan without a field goal for the first 7:35 of the period, but trailed 53-51 after a pair of Hallie Thome free throws with 2:33 left. Thome finished with eight points, including four in the fourth quarter.
The Huskers then turned the ball over in the backcourt and Akienreh Johnson got the steal and an uncontested layup to push the Michigan margin to 55-51. Moments later another turnover by Nebraska led to a Naz Hillmon layup and-one free throw to extend the Wolverine lead to 58-51 with 1:59 left. Those were the only Michigan field goals in the quarter. The Wolverines hit nine free throws the rest of the way to seal the win.
The Huskers only got one field goal in the first 8:20 of the final quarter, which came from Kate Cain, before she got her second field goal to cut the margin to 58-53 with 1:37 left. Cain finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the Huskers.
Taylor Kissinger kept Nebraska's hopes alive with a pair of long three-pointers with 28.1 seconds and 21.2 seconds left to pull the Huskers within 63-59, but NU could get no closer the rest of the way. Kissinger finished with 12 points on 3-of-7 three-point shooting.
Hannah Whitish led the Huskers with 13 points in the game, including 3-of-7 threes. Nicea Eliely added four points, eight rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Sam Haiby managed eight points, while Leigha Brown contributed six points.
For the Huskers it was their ninth loss of the season in games decided by two possessions or less and the school-record-tying 11th game decided by six or fewer points. The Huskers are 1-6 in Big Ten play in games decided by two possessions.
Freshman Naz Hillmon led Michigan with a game-high 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Hillmon scored eight big points for the Wolverines in the fourth quarter but also committed six turnovers in the contest.
Akienreh Johnson added 14 points off the bench, as Michigan's bench outscored the Husker bench 37-20 - the first time the Nebraska bench has been outscored by an opposing bench this season.
The Huskers hit 41.7 percent (25-60) of their shots for the game, including 8-of-23 threes, while going 3-of-6 at the line. Nebraska was just 5-of-17 in the fourth quarter, helping Michigan win the battle of the boards 41-29, after Nebraska held a halftime lead on the glass.
Michigan hit 42.9 percent (24-56) but went just 2-for-10 from three-point range, including 0-for-4 in the second half. However, Michigan went 17-for-25 at the line, including 15-of-21 in the decisive fourth quarter.
Nebraska took a 49-48 lead to the fourth quarter after the Huskers outscored the Wolverines 13-5 during a key five-minute stretch late in the third period. Whitish and Kissinger each scored five points during the stretch to give Nebraska the lead.
Michigan took a 35-32 lead to the locker room at the half in a competitive first half that featured plenty of action. The Wolverines took a 10-8 lead after four straight points from freshman point guard Amy Dilk, but Dilk went out with a right knee injury while making the layup to give Michigan the lead with 3:37 left in the first quarter. Dilk went to the bench and did not return.
Nebraska took a one-point lead at 11-10 on a three-pointer from Brown with 2:55 left in the quarter, but the Wolverines answered with a 7-0 run to build their biggest lead of the quarter at 17-11.
Husker freshman Haiby hit a last-second shot to close the period and send Nebraska to the second quarter trailing 17-13.
Johnson scored the first five points of the second quarter for the Wolverines to push Michigan's lead to 22-13 and less than five minutes later, Michigan pushed the margin to 10 at 29-19 with a Nicole Munger three-pointer with 4:20 left in the half.
Whitish almost immediately answered with a three of her own to ignite a 13-4 surge by the Big Red to cut Michigan's lead to 33-32. The Huskers got the ball back with a dark shot clock but Whitish was called for an illegal screen to give Michigan the ball back with a few seconds left, and Johnson closed the half with a baseline buzzer-beater to give the Wolverines a three-point halftime lead.
Nebraska hit 46.4 percent (13-28) of its first-half shots, including 4-of-11 threes (.364), while going 2-for-4 at the free throw line. The Huskers also out-rebounded Michigan 16-14.
Michigan hit 53.3 percent (16-30) of its shots, including 2-of-6 threes (.333) in the half, while going 1-for-2 at the line. Michigan won the first-half turnover battle 8-7.
The Huskers return home to take on Purdue Sunday afternoon. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Boilermakers on Play4Kay Day is set for 2 p.m., and fans are encouraged to wear pink to promote cancer awareness. It will also be alumni weekend in Lincoln with more than 50 former Huskers scheduled to attend Sunday's game and be recognized at halftime.