Cory Montgomery erupted for a career-high 30 points, while Yvonne Turner added a career-best 26 points, as the Nebraska women's basketball team held off a furious second-half rally by Oklahoma State for an 82-74 win over the Cowgirls at Gallagher-Iba Arena Saturday night.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 15-14 overall while finishing Big 12 Conference play with a 6-10 record. The Huskers, who won five of their final seven league contests to finish in a tie for seventh in the final conference standings, head to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship in Oklahoma City next week as either the No. 9 and will play No. 8 seed Kansas.
The Huskers, who notched their first road win of the conference season, will play the Jayhawks in the 11 a.m. game on Thursday, March 12, at the Cox Convention Center. Nebraska also became postseason eligible for the sixth consecutive season by securing a .500 or better overall record.
"That was a great team win in a classic Big 12 Conference game," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "I am so proud of my players for the way they have continued to overcome adversity this season. They have kept battling and kept fighting and we have come back from a 1-8 league start to become postseason eligible. It is a real credit to the character of our players."
Montgomery, who notched her seventh double-double of the season by adding 11 rebounds, scored 16 points in the final 12 minutes of the game to become the first Husker since Kelsey Griffin to score 30 points in a game. Griffin, who will be a fifth-year senior for Nebraska next year after missing the entire 2008-09 season with an ankle injury, had 31 points in a win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Miami, Fla., on Nov. 27, 2005.
Montgomery, who hit 12-of-16 shots from the field and 5-of-6 free throws, had produced her previous career best was 24 points at Colorado on Jan. 31.
Turner added 15 of her career-best 26 in the second half, as she surpassed her previous career high of 23 points, which she scored at Maryland on March 25, 2008. Turner hit 9-of-14 shots from the field, including 4-of-8 three -pointers and all four of her free throw attempts. She also pulled down five rebounds and notched two steals.
Dominique Kelley added a third Husker in double figures with 10 points and a game-high five assists, while matching her career best with three steals.
Oklahoma State, which advanced to the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16, lost its seventh consecutive home game to end the regular season with a 15-14 overall mark and a 4-12 Big 12 record. The Cowgirls will be the No. 10 seed at next week's conference tournament. OSU played the game without Big 12 scoring leader Andrea Riley, after the junior was suspended by Coach Kurt Budke for a violation of team rules late Friday afternoon.
Tegan Cunningham led OSU with 21 points, while senior Shaunte' Smith added 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. OSU shot 42.9 percent from the field, including 6-of-13 from three-point range without Riley. The Cowgirls also tied their Big 12 season-best with 14 assists, as nine players found the scoring column.
Nebraska produced its second-highest scoring total of the season against OSU, trailing only 96 points in a season-opening win over Weber State. The Huskers also hit 51.7 percent (31-60) of their shots from the field marking just the second time this season they managed to hit more than 50 percent from the field, also joining the win over Weber State.
NU, which hit 7-of-21 three-pointers and 13-of-16 free throws (81.3 percent), outrebounded the Cowgirls, 34-31. NU did commit 18 turnovers, but forced 16 by OSU. The Cowgirls managed to outscore NU at the free throw line by hitting 20-of-26 chances at the stripe.
Oklahoma State opened the second half by scoring its first six possessions to trim an 11-point Husker lead to just one point with 16:19 remaining in the game, before Turner knocked down a three-pointer to slow the Cowgirl flurry.
The Cowgirls continued to challenge the NU lead, as Smith scored and was fouled to tie the game. Her chance at the line to give OSU its first lead was off the mark with 14:22 left in the game. But Dominique Kelley got a steal and was fouled on a layup attempt. She hit both free throws to stop the OSU surge before Jessica Periago knocked down a huge three-pointer from the top of the key to push NU's lead to three at 55-52.
Montgomery then hit a shot to cap a 7-0 run and extend NU's lead to five points. Turner then took over, scoring eight straight points, including back-to-back three-pointers, to push the Husker lead back to double digits at 65-55 with 7:48 to play.
Montgomery followed up Turner's flurry with six straight points to help NU extend its advantage to 12 points with 3:58 left.
Montgomery and Turner teamed up to get the Huskers off to a solid start in the first half. Montgomery scored 14 first-half points on 7-of-10 shooting while adding five rebounds, and Turner pitched in 11 points despite sitting out the final 3:37 after picking up her second foul. The Huskers led by as many as 12 in the first half and carried an 11-point halftime lead at 43-32 by scoring the final four points of the half on a jumper from Tay Hester and a steal and layup for Nicole Neals.
Neals finished with five first-half points and Hester added four, while Kelley also gave NU a big life with seven first-half points. Nebraska hit 51.4 percent (19-37) of its shots from the field, but just 2-for-10 from three-point range. The Huskers missed their final eight three-point attempts of the first half. NU outrebounded OSU, 18-12, in the first 20 minutes, while forcing 13 Cowgirl turnovers, compared to just seven for the Huskers.
Cunningham led OSU with 10 first-half points, while Smith added six points. OSU hit 52.4 percent (11-21) of its shots from the field, including 3-of-5 three-pointers. The Cowgirls also outscored NU, 7-3, at the free throw line in the first half.
Courtesy: NU Media Relations