Senior point guard Lindsey Moore produced game highs with 22 points and eight assists, but it wasn't enough to prevent No. 21 Nebraska from falling to Purdue, 77-64, in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals Saturday at the Sears Centre Arena.
With the loss, No. 2 seed Nebraska ends the regular season with a 23-8 overall record that included a 12-4 Big Ten mark and a conference runner-up finish. No. 3 seed Purdue, the defending Big Ten Tournament champions, improved to 23-8 overall including 10-6 in the Big Ten, and will face either top-seeded Penn State or No. 4 seed Michigan State in Sunday afternoon's championship game.
In addition to the 22 points and eight assists from Moore, the Huskers got 15 points and nine rebounds from junior All-Big Ten forward Jordan Hooper. But no other Husker was able to muster more than six points against the Boilermakers.
Emily Cady added six points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal, but was strapped with two first-half fouls. Hailie Sample and Tear'a Laudermill each pitched in six points, while Rachel Theriot and Meghin Williams each contributed four points.
Nebraska shot 41 percent (25-61) as a team, but went just 6-for-21 from three-point range with Moore and Hooper each knocking down a trio of threes. The Huskers also hit 8-of-12 free throws.
The Boilermakers played extremely well, at one point midway through the second half shooting nearly 60 percent from the field to build an 18-point lead. However, Purdue cooled off and Nebraska was able to cut the edge back to 10 points with the ball on three occasions. The Huskers got great looks at the basket on all three possessions but were unable to trim the margin to single digits, and the Boilermakers prevailed.
Purdue controlled the boards, 40-33, and won the turnover battle 14-10 on the day. Sam Ostarello led the Boilermakers with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Courtney Moses added 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. KK Houser pitched in 13 points, eight boards, five assists and six steals, while Taylor Manuel gave Purdue four players in double figures with 11 points.
For the game, Purdue hit 44.1 percent of its shots, including 5-of-11 three-pointers. The Boilermakers won the game at the line, where they went 20-of-22 (90.9 percent).
Nebraska trailed 42-31 at the half, despite hitting 48.1 percent (13-27) from the field, including 4-of-12 three-pointers. Purdue hit a sizzling 53.6 percent (15-28) from the floor, including 2-of-5 threes.
The Boilermakers also outscored NU 10-1 at the free throw line, while outrebounding the Huskers, 18-12. Purdue also won the turnover battle, 11-7.
Hooper led the Huskers with 11 points, while Moore added nine points, five assists and two steals in the opening half. Purdue got 10 points and seven rebounds in the half from Ostarello to go along with 10 points, four assists and five first-half steals from Houser. Moses and Manuel each added seven points.
Nebraska led 21-20 with just over nine minutes left in the half, before an 8-0 run by Purdue that included three-pointers by Moses and Houser to give the Boilermakers a 28-21 lead. NU got no closer than six the rest of the half.
Nebraska will return to Lincoln on Saturday night and wait until the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday, March 18, to learn their destination in the 2013 Big Dance.