Kearney, Neb. – Junior wing Shelby Zimmerman came up big in the clutch again and the Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team dominated overtime in a 54-45 victory over Sioux Falls Wednesday night at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers improve to 1-1 while the Cougars drop to 1-1. This was the first time UNK and USF have ever met in women’s basketball.
With a 1:17 left in regulation, Sioux Falls appeared to be in good shape as they led 42-38 after Melissa Greathouse made one of two free throws.
However, Zimmerman (Beatrice) sunk two freebies 11 seconds later. After the Cougars missed a shot, senior point guard Ivy Jones (Vallejo, Calif.) had a chance to tie things up with 15 seconds left but her baseline jumper was off the mark.
USF’s Alyssa Rushton went to the line for the subsequent free throws. She not only missed the first but also the second and the Lopers grabbed the rebound and raced up the floor.
With clock literally running down, UNK head coach Kevin Chaney called a timeout with 1.2 seconds left. Using back-to-back timeouts to setup the perfect play, junior guard Sarah Hix (Broomfield, Colo.) inbounded the ball from the left sideline about 25 feet from the basket.
Her lob pass found a wide open Zimmerman, who promptly sent the game into overtime with a buzzer beating layup.
Last year, the Tri-County graduate forced OT in a 75-70 win over Colorado Mesa with a last second three. A few games later, Zimmerman hit two free throws to force another extra session in a 99-89 double OT win against Colorado State-Pueblo.
Tonight in overtime, the Lopers never trailed as true freshman Laramey Lewis (Trenton) hit a three from the top of the key to make it 45-42. Zimmerman then added another bucket the next time UNK got possession of the ball.
Sioux Falls had plenty of chances in the final three minutes as Kearney was just 5 of 10 at the line in overtime. However, the Cougars went 1 of 7 from the field with a turnover in the extra session.
Zimmerman finished with a game-high 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting. She also had six rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes.
Next, sophomore post Melissa Norman (Elk Grove, Calif.) grabbed 10 of her 12 rebounds after the break with Lewis and sophomore reserve post Queen Ohamara (Lincoln North Star) each scoring seven.
This defensive battle saw both teams shoot below 30% but UNK scored 17 points off of 17 USF turnovers and won the battle on the glass, 39-36.
Sioux Falls was paced by freshman post Laura Johnson’s 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
Kearney heads to California this weekend to face San Francisco State and the Academy of Art (Calif.).