No. 20 Nebraska women lose 82-67 to 7th-ranked Penn St. in final appearance at Devaney Center
LINCOLN, Neb. – The largest crowd of the season showed up on Senior Night to see Nebraska play for a share of the Big Ten championship and send out the Devaney Sports Center in style.
Penn State's Maggie Lucas spoiled the party.
Lucas scored 34 points to lead seventh-ranked Penn State to an 82-67 victory over No. 20 Nebraska on Sunday, clinching the Lady Lions' second straight outright Big Ten title and ending the Cornhuskers' 10-game win streak.
Lucas made a career-high eight 3-pointers — the most in a women's game at Devaney. Four of them came in a bunch to help the Lady Lions stretch their lead in the first half and three more kept the Huskers at bay early in the second.
"I'm not sure I've ever coached a game in which someone has had more than six 3s made," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "We lost her a few times in the first half, but we did an OK job on her in the second half. I thought her shots in the second half were tougher than her first-half shots. Once a shooter gets going, the rim starts looking pretty big."
Penn State (24-4, 14-2) beat the Huskers for the second time this season in front of an energetic crowd of 10,832, which bid farewell to seniors Lindsey Moore and Meghin Williams.
The Huskers (22-7, 12-4) were playing their last game at the Devaney Center, their home for 37 seasons. They move into a new downtown arena next season. The Devaney will be renovated and house Nebraska's powerful volleyball team.
The Huskers won 75 percent of their games at the arena (388-130).
"It is kind of sad," said Emily Cady, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double. "I grew up in Nebraska, so I came to all the little kids' camps. But it'll be fun in the new arena."
Alex Bentley scored 13 points and Mia Nickson and Nikki Greene 10 apiece for Penn State. Lucas added nine rebounds.
Penn State shot 69.2 percent in the second half and 52.5 percent for the game.
Moore led the Huskers with 23 points and Jordan Hooper added 14 for Nebraska.
Lucas, Division I's active career leader in 3-point percentage, hit four 3s while scoring 14 points in an 18-7 spurt that put the Lady Lions up 24-15. The Huskers closed to 31-30 with 2 minutes left in the first half, but the Lady Lions scored seven of the next nine points and went ahead 38-32 after Lucas drilled a jumper in the lane just ahead of the buzzer.
Moore, the Huskers' star point guard who made her school record-tying 127th start, hit a couple early 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half, but she sat out most of the final 4:26 of the half after committing her third foul.
Moore finished 9 for 11 from the field but committed eight turnovers after having come into the game with a 2.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Hooper got the Huskers within 40-37 with a three-point play made possible by Rachel Theriot's zippy entry pass that Hooper converted into a layup with Greene hanging on her.
The Huskers could get no closer, thanks to Lucas.
The Lady Lions came in already having clinched the top seed in this week's Big Ten tournament. But Nebraska was given an opportunity to play for a share of the regular-season title after the Lady Lions were upset at Minnesota on Thursday.
Nebraska, which finished sixth last year in its inaugural Big Ten season, bounced back from a tough start in conference to put itself in position for a co-championship. The Huskers lost three of their first five Big Ten games and were in eighth place before taking off on the second-longest win streak in program history.
The Huskers had held opponents to an average of 52.8 points during the streak, but Lucas and the Lady Lions were too much for them Sunday.
Moore said it was disappointing that the Huskers couldn't win a piece of the regular-season title but that there is still plenty to play for this season.
"It's obviously hard because we wanted to win it at Devaney, which would have been an awesome way to send us out," Moore said. "It mattered, but it didn't because we already have the 2 seed (for the conference tournament). Now we have to focus and get ready for the postseason and know that any game you lose could be your last."