Champaign, Ill. — Jordan Hooper and Emily Cady combined for 41 points and 19 rebounds to power No. 16 Nebraska to a 75-56 road win over Illinois at the State Farm Center on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 12-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, while Illinois slipped to 7-9 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
In a low-scoring first half, the Huskers took a 26-22 lead into halftime, then took complete control in the second half. The Big Red shot 56.7 percent in the second half, including 6-of-13 from three-point range. Nebraska led by as many as 21 points late in the game before settling for the 19-point victory.
"I really liked our poise in the second half," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "We got rattled a little bit late in the first half, but in the second half we took great care of the basketball and hit some shots. Emily was great the whole game for us, and we got good contributions from a lot of people. That was a really good Big Ten road win."
Hooper, a 6-2 senior forward Alliance, Neb., led the Huskers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Cady, a 6-2 junior forward from Seward, Neb., added her sixth double-double of the season and second in Big Ten play with 19 points, 10 boards, three assists and a block. Cady went 6-for-9 from the field, including a three-pointer, while going 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
Hooper and Cady led four Huskers in double figures, including junior guard Tear'a Laudermill who scored eight of her 13 points early in the second half to help the Big Red pull away. Sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot added 11 points and six assists. Junior starter Hailie Sample added four of her five points in the second half, while adding seven rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals. Junior guard Brandi Jeffery also scored all five of her points in the second half to help the Huskers.
Nebraska's hot-shooting second half helped NU finish 47.2 percent (25-53) from the field, including 7-of-19 from three-point range. The Huskers also hit 18-of-20 free throws. NU outrebounded Illinois 37-34, but lost the turnover battle, 18-15. However, Nebraska outscored the Illini in points off turnovers, 18-13.
Ivory Crawford led Illinois with 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Jacqui Grant added 15 points and three blocks. No other Illini managed more than seven points, as Illinois went just 22-of-63 (.349) from the field, including a dismal 2-for-27 from three-point range. The Fighting Illini also hit just 10-of-16 free throws.
After surrendering nine points of a 13-point first-half lead late in the period, Cady got Nebraska off to a strong second-half start with a traditional three-point play to put NU's lead to 29-22.
Illinois' leading scorer, Amber Moore answered with only three of the game to cut it back to four, before Laudermill notched another three-point play. After an Alexis Smith basket by the Illini, Brandi Jeffery drained a three for NU.
The Big Red still led by just six before Hooper hit a three and Cady added another three-point play to push the NU margin to 12 points with 13:11 left. After a pair of Hooper free throws, Laudermill hit another three for NU then got a steal and a layup to match NU's biggest margin of the game at 50-37. Cady then hit a shot to give NU its biggest margin at that point in the game at 52-37 with 10:37 left, forcing an Illini timeout.
Nebraska returns to Lincoln to open a two-game Big Ten home stand this week. The Huskers open the stand by taking on Minnesota at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets are available now at Huskers.com.
The match will air on the Big Ten Network and Huskers.com.
Sample, Cady and Hooper continued the surge, extending the Nebraska margin to 59-40 with 8:32 left, and Illinois got not closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Nebraska jumped to a strong start, scoring the game's first seven points in the opening three minutes. The Huskers took a double-digit lead for the first time on a Theriot bucket with 10:10 left in the half made it 15-4 NU.
A minute later, the Big Red took their biggest lead of the half on a layup by Laudermill to go up 19-6 with 9:07 left.
But Crawford and Grant got going for Illinois in the final nine minutes, combining for the Illini's final 16 points. The duo combined on a 6-0 run to end the half to cut Nebraska's halftime edge to 26-22.
Hooper led the Huskers with eight points and five boards in the first half, while Cady added six points and seven rebounds. Theriot pitched in six first-half points of her own along with two assists, while Laudermill finished with five in the opening period.
The starters for both teams combined for all 48 points in the first half. Crawford and Grant each led the Illini with nine points.
The Huskers led at the half despite going just 8-for-23 (.348) from the field, including 1-for-6 from three-point range. NU did hit 9-of-10 free throws and outrebounded Illinois 21-16. However, the Big Red lost the first-half turnover battle, 12-7.
Illinois shot just 30 percent (9-30) in the first half, including 0-for-14 from three-point range. The Illini were just 4-of-8 at the free throw line.
---------------------------------------- 1st 2nd Total Illinois 22 34 56 Nebraska (16) 26 49 75 ----------------------------------------