Kelley free throws and 3's from Hooper get a win.
Lincoln. — Dominique Kelley celebrated her 22nd birthday with 22 points, including six free throws in the final 25 seconds, to power the Nebraska women's basketball team to a 64-63 victory over Saint Mary's at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 3-0 on the young season with all three victories over 2010 postseason qualifiers. NU also stretched its regular-season winning streak to 34 games, including 23 consecutive home victories. Saint Mary's, which did snap NU's streak of 19 straight double-digit home wins, slipped to 2-2 on the year.
Kelley, a 5-7 senior guard from Lincoln, produced the second-best free throw performance in Husker history, connecting on all 13 of her attempts on the afternoon. Her 13-for-13 effort at the line was just one shy of Laura Tietjen's 14-for-14 night against UNLV on Jan. 15, 1977.
Kelley, who hit 4-of-9 shots from the field, including her first three-pointer of the year, made her shots at the stripe when they counted most. After falling behind by 10 points at 12-2 early in the game, Nebraska rallied for a 32-27 halftime lead, then extended the margin to 10 points at 39-29 just two minutes into the second half.
But the Gaels rallied to tie the game at 43 with 11:52 left, then took a four-point lead at 55-51 after a pair of Louella Tomlinson free throws with 4:28 remaining. Saint Mary's maintained a two-point lead until Husker freshman Jordan Hooper knocked down her only three-pointer of the game with 2:35 left.
Hooper's shot gave the Huskers a 58-57 lead and ended an 0-for-7 shooting stretch from long range for the 6-2 forward to open the game.
After that, it was all Kelley. The NU defense shut down the Gaels for more than two-and-a-half minutes, before Kelley was fouled with 25 seconds left. She calmly sank both free throws to extend NU's margin to 60-57.
Alex Carbonel, who finished with 13 points, then ran the length of the floor and scored to cut the lead to one. Nebraska successfully inbounded the ball to Kelley, who was immediately fouled again. With 17 seconds left, Kelley sank both ends of a one-and-one to push the margin back to 62-59.
Jasmine Smith, who finished with 12 points, then ran the length of the floor to score and cut the NU margin again. After a timeout, the Huskers again found Kelley on the inbounds pass. She was fouled by Amber Coatney, and Kelley stuck two more free throws in the double-bonus to put NU up 64-61 with seven seconds left.
Smith got another layup with two seconds left, but time ran out before the Gaels could foul again.
Kelley was the lone Husker in double figures, finishing with 22 points and four rebounds. Hooper and Lindsey Moore both added seven points, but combined to go just 6-for-25 from the field, including just 2-for-13 from three-point range. Katya Leick added seven points and five boards off the bench for NU, but also hit just 3-of-9 shots.
Senior Jessica Periago gave the Huskers a huge lift off the bench as well, producing five points, five rebounds and an assist, while making several key defensive plays down the stretch.
Nebraska was victorious despite shooting just 36.1 percent (22-61) from the field, including just 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from three-point range. Thanks to Kelley, the Huskers did go 15-for-16 from the free throw line. NU outrebounded SMC, 39-37, and won the turnover battle, 18-17. NU entered the contest hitting 53.2 percent of their shots from the field and 53.2 percent of their three-point attempts through the first two games.
Kate Gaze led Saint Mary's with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Tomlinson, a Naismith National Player-of-the-Year candidate, added nine points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Nebraska hits the road for the first time on Monday when the Huskers travel to Pullman, Wash., to battle Washington State. Tip-off between the Huskers and Cougars is set for 9 p.m. (Central) time, with free live audio on Huskers.com provided by the Husker Sports Network.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.