No. 16 Nebraska wins Big Ten tourney title

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm •  Published: March 9, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When Rachel Theriot saw her teammates struggling Sunday, the sophomore point guard went into championship mode.

She took open shots, passed when warranted and willed No. 16 Nebraska to victory.

Theriot opened the second half by scoring the Cornhuskers' first nine points and sealed it by accounting for six more in a decisive 8-3 run that helped the Cornhuskers outlast No. 23 Iowa 72-65 for the Big Ten tournament title — Nebraska's first conference tourney championship.

"She's just got a great feel for when to make plays, and that's a great attribute for someone that young," coach Connie Yori said. "She knew we were struggling (offensively) and she needed to take shots."

It was a remarkable three-day stretch for Theriot.

She finished with 14 points, 18 assists and five rebounds in Friday's quarterfinal win over Minnesota. She came back with 18 points and eight assists in Saturday's semifinal victory over Michigan State. Then Sunday, Theriot scored 19 of her 24 points in the second half and pushed her three-day assist total to a tourney record 30.

The only thing she didn't have a major hand in was Nebraska's 58-27 rebounding advantage. The Cornhuskers had three players with at least 10 rebounds, led by Hailie Sample's career-high 15, and finished with an astounding 58-27 advantage, including a 26-6 edge on the offensive end.

But Theriot was the obvious choice as the tourney's most outstanding player.

"She kept her calm. She kept her cool," Big Ten player of the year Jordan Hooper said after finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. "She did a great job passing the ball and a great job taking shots when she had them."

Without Theriot, the Huskers (25-6) probably would not have been standing in the confetti that streamed down from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse rafters and then was sprayed onto the victory stand by a blower. Nebraska now heads into NCAA tournament play with 12 wins in 13 games.

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