Bad luck and Poor shooting leads to a loss in Vegas.
Las Vegas — Freshman Jordan Hooper matched her career high with 25 points and added a career-high 13 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Nebraska women's basketball team from falling, 79-70, to Houston in its first game of the Duel in the Desert Classic on Saturday night at the Cox Pavilion.
Nebraska slipped to 8-2 on the year, while Houston improved to 7-1.
Hooper finished the night by hitting 10-of-24 from the field, including a career-high five three-pointers (5-8), despite opening the game just 2-of-9 from the field. Hooper wasn't the only Husker shooter struggling in the first half.
Nebraska trailed 40-27 at halftime after the Huskers hit just 10-of-39 shots from the floor, including just 3-of-16 three-pointers. The Huskers' shooting woes allowed Houston to maintain control throughout the first half, as the Cougars built their largest lead at 40-24 before Hooper hit a three as time expired at the end of the half.
That shot salvaged a little momentum for NU heading into the locker room, and Hooper continued to fire early in the second half. The 6-2 forward from Alliance, Neb., drained her first three shots, including a pair of three-pointers to pull NU within 45-37 with 16:59 left.
She then missed her first shot of the half, but followed up the misfire with an explosive tip-in to cut the margin to 46-39, befort adding another jumper to trim the Cougar advantage to 46-41 with 15:49 left. She was fouled on the jumper, but missed the free throw.
However, senior Dominique Kelley, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, kept the NU surge rolling by pulling NU within 46-43 with 14:44 left.
It appeared NU had the momentum, before Cougar Porsche Landry responded with four quick points to push the margin back to seven. Landry finished with 21 points and five assists to lead Houston.
Husker sophomore Lindsey Moore, who finished with 14 points and five assists, answered with NU's fifth consecutive made three-pointer to cut the margin back to 50-46 with 13:57 left, but Houston answered with a 9-0 surge over the next two minutes to extend the margin back to 13 at 59-46 with 11:52 left.
The Huskers had a run of their own left, as Hooper, Kelley, Moore, Catheryn Redmon and Jessica Periago all contributed points in a 14-4 Nebraska surge that pulled NU within 63-60 with 8:17 left. Redmon finished with seven points and nine rebounds, while Periago pitched in five points and six boards off the bench.
Nebraska could get no closer the rest of the way, as Landry, defending Conference USA Player of the Year Courtney Taylor and Brittney Scott made enough plays down the stretch to seal the win for the Cougars.
Taylor, who entered the game averaging more than 17 points and 12 rebounds per game, finished with 11 points and 12 boards, while Scott finished with 16 points and six boards. Lesslee Mason added nine points and 10 boards along with a game-high three blocks.
Overall, Houston hit 41.5 percent (27-65) of its shots from the field, including 7-of-23 three-pointers. But the Cougars outscored NU 18-8 at the free throw line, while matching the Huskers on the glass with 51 caroms. UH was also plus-two in the turnover department (13-11).
Nebraska hit just 32.9 percent (26-79) from the field, including 10-of-29 three-pointers. NU did hit 7-of-13 threes in the second half. The Huskers went just 8-of-12 at the line.
Hooper led the Huskers with eight points and six rebounds in the first half, but hit just 3-of-10 shots from the field. Kelley added six points and six rebounds but hit just 2-of-10 first-half shots. Moore also pitched in eight points, but connected on just 3-of-11 shots.
Scott led Houston with 11 first-half points, including a trio of three-pointers, while Brittany Mason scored all of her seven points in the first half points. Roxana Button pitched in seven points off the bench in the opening 20 minutes.
Houston hit 13-of-37 first-half shots, including 5-of-17 three-pointers. UH also hit 9-of-13 free throws, while outrebounding NU, 31-26, at the half. The Cougars committed just five turnovers, while the Huskers turned the ball over seven times.
Nebraska returns to action tomorrow when the Huskers take on Marist on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 8:30 p.m. central. The Red Foxes, who have won four straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles and defeated Louisville, 74-68, in Saturday's first game.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.