February 11, 2024 

Big Ten notebook: Huskers stun Hawkeyes, Ohio State romps, big week for Indiana

Caitlin Clark's chase of Division I scoring record continues

A 27-10 fourth quarter propelled Nebraska to an upset of No. 2 Iowa in front of a sellout crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday. Also, Ohio State won its 11th game in a row, and a couple of Indiana Hoosiers had weeks to remember.

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Here’s your Week 14 roundup of Big Ten action.

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What everybody’s talking about: Down goes No. 2

At the end of the third quarter on Sunday, Nebraska (16-8, 8-5 Big Ten) trailed Iowa 69-55. With 6:30 left, the deficit was still 10. Then graduate guard Jaz Shelley put the Huskers on her back, scoring 10 of her 23 points in that final stretch to guide Nebraska to an 82-79 win.

Iowa senior guard Caitlin Clark finished the game with 31 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. She’s now eight points away from passing former Washington guard Kelsey Plum for the most points in Division I women’s basketball history.

For the Huskers, though, this was likely an NCAA Tournament bid-sealing win. They suffered an unfathomable 71-70 home loss to Rutgers — then winless in the Big Ten — on Feb. 3 but had otherwise held serve this season, including wins over Maryland and Michigan. Still, Nebraska didn’t have a “signature” win on its resume. That changed on Sunday.

In addition to Shelley’s performance, junior forward/center Alexis Markowski had a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double, and freshman forward Natalie Potts added 14 points and six rebounds.

The win was Nebraska’s first over Iowa since Dec. 28, 2019.

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This caught my attention: Buckeyes on a tear

Even after sophomore forward Cotie McMahon picked up three fouls in the first quarter on Sunday, nothing slowed Ohio State (21-3, 12-1 Big Ten) in an 86-71 demolition of Michigan State.

After nearly knocking off Indiana in Bloomington on Thursday — and having pushed the Buckeyes to the brink in their first meeting this season — this looked to be Michigan State’s prime opportunity to get a ranked win.

Ohio State had other ideas.

The Buckeyes’ full-court press locked down Michigan State’s usually lightning-quick offense. The Spartans (17-7, 7-6 Big Ten) entered Sunday averaging 11 turnovers per game, but they turned the ball over 16 times against the Buckeyes. 

Ohio State also made Michigan State pay on defense. Graduate guard Celeste Taylor led the way with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting, graduate guard Jacy Sheldon added 18 on 8-for-13 shooting as well, and graduate forward Rebeka Mikulasikova had 19.

The 15-point loss was surprising from the Spartans considering their competitiveness in three previous games against ranked opponents. Although they lost each of those games, their average margin of defeat was just under four points.

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Other notable headlines

Holmes sets IU record, Moore-McNeil turns in a triple-double

In the final stretch of her illustrious college career, Indiana graduate forward Mackenzie Holmes added another milestone to her list on Sunday. Facing Purdue at Assembly Hall, Holmes converted a layup with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter for her 2,365th career point. That put her atop the Hoosiers’ all-time scoring list, passing Tyra Buss

Overall, Holmes had 17 points and four rebounds in a 95-62 win for Indiana (20-3, 11-2 Big Ten).

A few days prior, it had been senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil who made the headlines with a 10-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist triple-double in Indiana’s 94-91 win over Michigan State.

When listing off Indiana’s top contributors, Holmes always leads the pack. Then it’s usually guards Sara Scalia and Sydney Parrish. But arguably no player has been more intricately involved in the Hoosiers’ success over the last few years than Moore-McNeil.

She’s fifth on the team in scoring, but she leads the team in assists (4.8) and steals (1.4) per game. She’s the do-it-all player whose contributions might not always translate onto the stat sheet. Last year, when Grace Berger missed an extended stretch with a knee injury, Moore-McNeil took over the point guard duties and continued steering the ship in the right direction.

If Indiana makes a Final Four run this year, Holmes’ play will likely receive much of the spotlight, but Moore-McNeil’s contributions will likely play just as large of a role. 

Stuelke’s 47-point performance

Iowa’s sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke is often overshadowed by Clark. But in the Hawkeyes’ 111-93 win over Penn State on Thursday, it was all Stuelke. She scored a career-high 47 points on 17-for-20 shooting. 

That game also featured double-doubles from Clark (27 points, 15 assists) and graduate guard Kate Martin (16 points, 16 rebounds), but Stuelke’s performance was the X factor. Before the loss to Nebraska on Sunday, the Hawkeyes had faced little turbulence this season. If Stuelke can produce strong offensive efforts down the stretch, Iowa (22-3, 11-2 Big Ten) should become that much harder to slow down come NCAA Tournament time.

Wisconsin’s up-and-down season hits a high

At times this season, Wisconsin (11-11, 4-8 Big Ten) has shown some progress under third-year head coach Marisa Moseley. For example, the Badgers have a road win over Illinois and a home win over Minnesota. But they’ve mixed in some head scratchers as well, such as losing to Northwestern twice.

On Sunday, they picked up arguably their most impressive win of the season, 69-64 against a Penn State (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) team that did not help its NCAA Tournament cause in the slightest. 

Wisconsin trailed 40-26 at halftime, but a 24-7 third quarter put the Badgers on their way to a win. Sophomore forward Serah Williams was spectacular, scoring 31 points and grabbing 15 rebounds for her ninth straight double-double. No other player scored more than eight points.

The Badgers’ lack of scoring from elsewhere on the floor has made it challenging for them to string together consistent performances. Sunday’s win was surely a confidence booster, but until Wisconsin can win games like this more regularly, the program will struggle to take that next step forward.

Notable games this week

  • Wednesday: Nebraska plays Ohio State at 7 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Illinois plays Penn State at 6 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Michigan plays Iowa at 8 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Michigan State plays Michigan at noon ET
  • Sunday: Penn State plays Maryland at 1 p.m. ET

Written by Eric Rynston-Lobel

Eric Rynston-Lobel has been a contributor to The Next since August 2022. He covered Northwestern women's basketball extensively in his four years as a student there for WNUR and now works as a sports reporter for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.

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