Huskers defense helps sweep Iowa
Lincoln. — Jordan Hooper notched her ninth double-double with 22 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to lead the No. 19 Nebraska women's basketball team to a 60-53 win over Iowa at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Thursday night.
With the victory, which gave Nebraska a regular-season sweep of the Hawkeyes, the Huskers improved to 17-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten. Iowa slipped to 11-10 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten with all five of its losses to top-25 teams.
Hooper, a 6-2 sophomore forward from Alliance, Neb., hit 7-of-14 shots from the field, including 3-of-6 three-pointers, while connecting on 5-of-6 free throws.
She was the only Husker to have a solid shooting night, as Nebraska shot a season-low 32.1 percent (18-56) from the field, including a season-low 20 percent (6-30) from three-point range. NU also hit just 18-of-30 free throws and was outrebounded, 41-40 by the Hawkeyes.
Despite those less than flattering numbers, the Huskers won the game against a Hawkeye team that was picked to finish among the top three teams in the Big Ten preseason poll.
"We won the game," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "We didn't shoot well. We didn't hit a lot of shots. We didn't hit many free throws, and tonight we also got outrebounded, but we still won the game. We really got after it on defense and took away their driving lanes and didn't give them a lot of open looks. We also forced some turnovers. I think it says a lot for a team as young as us, to not let our struggles on offense carry over to our defense. That's why we won the game."
Junior point guard Lindsey Moore joined Hooper as the only Huskers in double figures with 15 points, while adding five rebounds, three assists and four steals, but Moore hit just 5-of-13 shots and went just 1-of-8 from three-point range.
Freshman forward Emily Cady provided strong contributions with nine points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 6-2 native of Seward, Neb., also played a key role in Iowa center Morgan Johnson fouling out of the game. Johnson, who scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds against NU in Iowa City, committed all five of her fouls in the second half, playing just six minutes after halftime. Johnson finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
Freshman forward Hailie Sample added four points, four rebounds, an assist, two steals and a block. Sample's defense late in the game on Iowa star Jaime Printy was also a key.
Printy hit four second-half three-pointers and finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists, but Sample shut Printy out for the game's final 7:39.
While Hooper and Moore accounted for most of the scoring, senior guard Kaitlyn Burke hit the game's biggest shot. With the Huskers holding a tenuous 54-51 lead, Burke buried a three from the right wing off an assist from Moore with one second on the shot clock and just 1:32 on the game clock. Burke's only basket of the game sealed Iowa's fate, as the Hawkeyes went without a field goal in the game's final four minutes. It was the 100th three-pointer of Burke's career.
Nebraska held Iowa to just 30.8 percent (16-52) shooting from the field, including 28.6 percent (8-28) from three-point range. However, the Hawkeyes hit 7-of-17 threes in the second half to shoot their way back into a game that they trailed by 13 at the half. Iowa cut NU's lead to one on three occasions in the second half, but the Huskers had an answer each time.
Iowa hit 13-of-15 free throws, but committed 20 turnovers, while the Huskers turned it over just 14 times. Nebraska turned Iowa's miscues into 20 points.
Nebraska led 30-17 at the half thanks to suffocating defense by the Huskers. Iowa led 14-10 with 12 minutes left in the first half after a three-pointer from Kelly Krei. It was the only three-pointer of the first half by the Hawkeyes, who went just 1-of-11 from long range.
Hooper nearly produced a double-double in the first half alone with 12 points and nine rebounds while knocking down 3-of-4 three-pointers. Hooper played a major role in Nebraska's 9-0 run in a 2:30 span late in the first half, as the Huskers took their first double-digit lead of the game.
Hooper pulled down a huge hustle rebound in the left short corner amongst three Hawkeyes, then threw a bullet pass to Sample on the opposite baseline. Sample swung it to Brandi Jeffery all alone on the right wing for a three to give the Huskers a 21-15 lead with 5:27 left.
After an Iowa timeout, Hooper then deflected the Iowa inbounds pass off a Hawkeye to give NU another quick possession. On the ensuing inbounds pass, the Huskers found Hooper for a long three at the top of the key to push the lead to nine at 24-15 with 5:18 left in the half.
Nebraska got another huge flurry in the closing seconds of the half, as Moore drove the length of the floor for a layup with three seconds left, before Jeffery stole the Iowa inbounds pass and threw it to Moore at the free throw line for a jumper as time expired to give the Huskers their biggest lead of the half.
Moore finished the half with nine points, while Jeffery and Cady each pitched in three points, while Sample added two first-half points and Meghin Williams one point.
Nebraska led by 13 despite shooting just 33 percent (11-33) in the first half, and being outrebounded 22-20 by the Hawkeyes. But the Huskers won the turnover battle 13-7, and held the Hawkeyes to just 20.8 percent (5-24) shooting from the field. Iowa did hit 6-of-8 free throws in the first half. Johnson led Iowa with six points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Nebraska opens the second half of the Big Ten season on Sunday, when the Huskers travel to Champaign to take on Illinois. Tip-off between the Huskers and Fighting Illini is set for Noon (central) with live radio coverage on the Husker Sports Network, including free live audio on Huskers.com.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.