The idea was to overload the Nebraska zone and see how the Huskers reacted. Surprise: They left Gadiva Hubbard all alone.
Sara Scalia, with the ball, drew two defenders. So she got it to Hubbard in the right corner. With 49 seconds left in a game in which points were sometimes hard to come by, she didn't hesitate.
That three broke a tie and put the Gophers women's basketball team ahead for good in a much-needed 76-71 victory at Nebraska on Tuesday, one that ended a three-game losing streak for the Gophers (3-7, 2-6 Big Ten).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HORvxELYVsE
"I did not know I would be that wide open," Hubbard said. She led the Gophers with 18 points, 12 of them coming in a fourth quarter during which she made three of four shots, all three-pointers.
Said the senior guard: "When I got to the corner, there was nobody within 2 or 3 feet of me. I got it, I shot it, and it was a huge play."
There were a lot of them.
After a slow start that had the Gophers down 10 points after one quarter, they won every quarter after that. They pulled within three at the half, within two after three. In the fourth quarter, they held Nebraska (7-5, 5-4) to 10 points and 3-for-21 shooting. Klarke Sconiers and Kayla Mershon — making her first return to Nebraska, where her college career started, controlled Nebraska center Kate Cain.
Afterward, Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said the game ball was shared by Hubbard and Mershon, who had six points and five rebounds.
But this was a team victory against a Cornhuskers team that lost for the first time at home and came into the game having won four of five games, all against teams ranked 15th or higher in the nation.
Four of five Gophers starters scored in double figures. Jasmine Powell had 15 with five assists. Scalia had 14 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six assists.
The Gophers had 18 assists on 24 baskets and only seven turnovers.
That was enough against a Nebraska team that struggled to score in the second half. Sam Haiby (Moorhead) scored 15 of her game-high 25 points in the second half for the Huskers but made only three of her final 14 shots.
But for all that, the Gophers wouldn't have won without Hubbard. Her three with 4:10 left put the Gophers up three.
Her three with 49 seconds left put the Gophers up for good.
"I told them this is our 10th game," Whalen said. "We've probably had five or six games with everyone able to play. We've spent a lot of time in the gym."
It was time to take that to the court. "We had to get this one," Hubbard said.
• The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.