NU dials up the defense in a 64-49 win over Minnesota
Lincoln. — Jordan Hooper notched her 10th 20-point scoring performance of the season with 23 points to lead three Huskers in double figures, as the No. 20 Nebraska women's basketball rolled to a 64-49 win over Minnesota at the Devaney Center on Sunday evening.
Freshman forward Emily Cady added 13 points, including a career-best three three-pointers, while pitching in seven rebounds. Fellow freshman forward Hailie Sample contributed a career-high 10 points to go along with seven rebounds for the Huskers. Hooper, a 6-2 sophomore forward, knocked down four three-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds for NU, while matching her career high with two first-half assists.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 16-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota slipped to 11-10 overall and 3-4 in the conference.
While Nebraska's young trio of forwards provided the offense, the Huskers used a stifling defense and terrific rebounding to fuel a 20-0 run that spanned the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half.
Nebraska led 27-23 after Rachel Banham scored for the Gophers with 4:45 left in the first half. Hooper then scored the last seven of 12 straight points for NU to push the Huskers' lead to 34-23 with just over a minute left in the half. Lindsey Moore, who finished with five points and eight assists while playing a season-low 21 minutes, then hit Tear'a Laudermill for a layup with 17 seconds left. Nebraska ended the half on a 9-0 run and took a 36-23 margin to the locker room at the half.
The Huskers continued the surge to open the second half, scoring 11 straight points in just over five minutes to extend their margin to 47-23. Cady, Sample and the rest of the Nebraska freshmen did the damage during the start of the second half, scoring all 11 of NU's points during the surge.
"We decided to play some defense and rebound today," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "It's amazing what you can do when you do those two things. I thought our defense was really good today, and we challenged our kids to rebound in the first half and they answered the call."
Minnesota led 8-3 on the glass in the first five minutes and had outscored Nebraska 5-0 on second-chance points. But the Huskers finished with a 49-21 edge on the boards, including a 22-15 advantage on the offensive glass for the game.
Nebraska maintained a 20-point advantage for much of the rest of the way, until Minnesota closed the margin in the final minutes. NU won despite shooting just 35.3 percent (24-68) from the field and just 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) from three-point range. The Huskers also hit just 57.1 percent (8-14) of their free throws. In addition to winning the battle of the boards, Nebraska also won the turnover battle, 19-16.
The Huskers held Minnesota to just 33.9 percent (19-56) shooting from the floor, including just 1-of-4 three-pointers. The Golden Gophers outscored Nebraska at the free throw line by hitting 10-of-18 attempts (55.6 percent).
Banham led Minnesota with 13 points, while Leah Cotton was the only other Gopher in double figures with 10 points. Kiara Buford managed nine points, while Katie Loberg contributed seven points and eight rebounds. Loberg had seven points and five boards for the Gophers in the game's first eight minutes.
Nebraska returns to Big Ten home action on Thursday when NU takes on Iowa. Tip-off between the Huskers and Hawkeyes at the Devaney Center is set for 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available now at Huskers.com. Fans can also call the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office during regular business hours beginning on Monday at 1-800-8-BIG-RED.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.