KU-NU women's box score ( .PDF )
Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska’s seniors made a pact not to cry when they were honored before their last game at the Devaney Sports Center.
Sure, there might have been a few tears after the third-ranked Cornhuskers sent out the most successful senior class in program history with a 77-52 victory over Kansas on Wednesday night. But mostly it was just a continuation of the celebration that this unprecedented season has become.
“We couldn’t have scripted it any better than this,” NU coach Connie Yori said. “We played really, really well on offense the first half and got off to a great start and great lead and were able to sub our seniors out in a well-deserving fashion. That’s not something that we had anticpated. We expected it to be a little closer game, but it turned out to be just as perfect as we could ask for.”
Kelsey Griffin, the Huskers’ national player-of-the-year candidate, scored 18 points to lead four Nebraska players in double figures.
Now the Huskers (28-0, 15-0 Big 12), who clinched the Big 12 regular-season championship a week ago, would become the first Big 12 team to make it through a regular season with a perfect record if they win at Kansas State on Saturday.
They would be the second team — joining the 2005-06 Oklahoma squad — to go unbeaten in league play in the Big 12’s 13-year history.
The Huskers led Kansas by 20 points in the first half and by 31 with nine minutes left. They posted their 11th win by 20 points or more and handed the Jayhawks (15-13, 5-10) their most lopsided loss of the season.
“There was so much emotion and we wanted to win this game and we wanted to play hard,” Cory Montgomery said. “The way we played on the court showed that.”
Griffin, Montgomery, Yvonne Turner, Kala Kuhlmann, Nicole Neals and Nikki Bober averaged 21 wins the past four seasons and will be leading the Huskers to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years, possibly as a No. 1 seed this time.
“It was bittersweet, as any senior will tell you,” Griffin said. “There’s been blood, sweat and tears that have gone on that Devaney court. I remind myself I’ll be practicing there, so that won’t be the last time I’ll be on it. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Yori said she wasn’t worried about her seniors possibly having difficulty maintaining their composure in their last home game.
“We hope that we still have a long ways to go in this season,” she said. “If you have a Senior Day and it might be the last game of the regular season, or you’re going into your tournament and maybe not expecting to go a long way, or you’re not an NCAA tournament team. ... Well, that’s a little different situation. With these guys, we hope we’ll be playing for a little while.”
Dominique Kelley added 16 points, Lindsey Moore 14 and Montgomery 12 for Nebraska.
Monica Engelman and Annette Davis scored nine points apiece to lead Kansas. Carolyn Davis, who had 17 against Nebraska in the team’s first meeting and has been the Jayhawks’ leading scorer in Big 12 games, was held scoreless. Davis played 13 minutes in the first half and just seven in the second.
“I wasn’t pleased with her effort,” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “I can’t play you if you’re going to jog up the floor and make it a layup drill. I thought it would be good for her to sit on the bench if she didn’t want to run.”
Nebraska scored the first nine points and used an 11-2 run to go up 30-12. The bulge grew to 20 points late in the first half, and the Huskers led 49-32 at the break.
Kansas, playing on the road for the fourth time in five games, has lost four straight and six of its last seven.
Nebraska got one of its toughest tests of the season when the teams played in Lawrence, Kan., three weeks ago. The Huskers trailed with eight minutes left before rallying for a 67-60 win.
Memories of that game kept Nebraska from getting overly emotional for Senior Night, Griffin said.
“No one cried in the locker room before the game,” she said. “After the game might not have been the same. Before the game, that’s what was important. Kansas is a good team. What they did to us in Lawrence, we didn’t want to have happen again. We didn’t want to be all emotional and get caught up in the moment. We wanted to play good, hard basketball.”