No. 8 Penn State
Lincoln, Neb. — No. 16 Nebraska nailed a season-high 16 three-pointers, including a school-record-tying seven from Tear'a Laudermill, to knock off No. 8 Penn State, 94-74, Monday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Playing in front of more than 7,000 fans and a Big Monday national television audience on ESPN2, the Huskers came out on fire and never let up against the Big Ten-leading Lady Lions. Nebraska, which led by 22 at the half, built the lead to 32 points with 12 minutes left, before settling for a 20-point win.
Nebraska, which improved to 21-5 overall and 11-3 in the Big Ten with its eighth consecutive victory, hit 16-of-22 threes (.727) for the game, including 11-of-14 in the first half. Laudermill, who finished with a career-high 27 points, hit her first six three-pointers in the first half. She finished 7-of-10 from long range, tying the school record of seven threes hit five times previously, with the last coming from Jordan Hooper at Missouri on Feb. 2, 2011.
Hooper, who notched her 11th double-double of the year with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high-matching four assists, hit four three-pointers of her own, including NU's first two bombs of the game to set the tone for the Big Red. The 16 threes by the Huskers marked the second-best total in school history, trailing only a 17-for-33 effort against Vermont on Nov. 13, 2010.
The victory put Nebraska in the discussion along with Penn State and Michigan State in the Big Ten regular-season title hunt. Penn State slipped to 21-6 overall and 12-3 in the conference, as the Huskers snapped the Lady Lions' eight-game league road winning streak. Michigan State improved to 19-8 overall and 11-3 in the conference with a 74-61 win over Minnesota in East Lansing Monday night.
"We can't play much better than that offensively," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "That wasn't really coaching tonight. That was about players playing on the offensive end. Our players gave great effort and played extremely well."
Sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot added 17 points and eight assists to continue her impressive play, while junior forward Emily Cady gave Nebraska four players in double figures with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Huskers close out their home regular-season schedule on Thursday, when they play host to Illinois. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Fighting Illini is set for 7 p.m.
The match will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Junior forward Hailie Sample added six points, three rebounds and three assists while playing a primary role in shutting out Penn State All-American Maggie Lucas in the first half. Laudermill and reserve guard Brandi Jeffery also stepped up to shut down Lucas, after Sample was straddled with foul trouble.
Not only did the trio shut out Lucas in the first half, they combined to outscore her 33-0, with Sample (6) and Jeffery (5) doing all their scoring before halftime. Laudermill went to the locker room with 22 points at halftime.
Nebraska finished the game shooting 56.9 percent (33-58) from the field, but was still shooting close to 70 percent when NU took its biggest lead at 75-43. The Huskers added 12-of-18 shooting at the free throw line.
The Husker passing was also scintilating, as the Big Red notched 26 assists on 33 made baskets while committing just 13 turnovers against an aggressive, over-playing PSU defense. NU held Penn State to just 11 assists while forcing 16 turnovers.
Penn State hit 42.9 percent (27-63) of its shots for the game, including 7-of-18 threes (.389), while connecting on 13-of-19 free throws. Aerial Edwards led Penn State with 24 points, while Lucas added 17, which all came in the final 18:20. She did not hit her first field goal until 14:10 left in the contest.
In a spectacular first half, the Huskers raced to a double-digit lead with a barrage of three-pointers against the Lady Lions. Hooper hit two early threes before Laudermill caught fire. The Husker guard buried her first six threes to help the Huskers knock down 11 first-half threes.
Nebraska took its first double-digit lead on Laudermill's second three before pushing the margin to 21-7 on Laudermill's third three with 15 minutes left in the half. She hit three consecutive threes in a three-minute stretch from 8:20 to 5:37 to keep NU's lead at 35-23.
Penn State battled to keep NU within striking distance, trailing 41-30 with just over two minutes left, before Hooper scored to spark an 11-0 Big Red to end the half and take their biggest lead at 52-30.
Laudermill hit Nebraska's last shot with seconds left, a long two-pointer from just left of the top of the key. The Huskers hit 11-of-14 threes in the first half, closing the half 19-of-28 (.679) from the field. NU also went 3-for-5 at the free throw line.
Penn State was led by 16 points from Edwards, including four three-pointers. Penn State hit 13-of-28 shots (.464) in the first half, including 4-of-9 threes, but went 0-for-1 at the free throw line. Nebraska outrebounded Penn State 14-13 and won the first-half turnover battle 9-6.
Both teams started slow in the second half, before Cady ignited another Husker surge with 15:30 left. Cady scored seven straight points in less than a minute to push NU's margin to 25, before Laudermill's seventh three put NU up 67-41. After a bucket by Lucas with 13:23 left, Nebraska scored eight straight points to push the margin to 32 and end any hopes of a Penn State comeback.
---------------------------------------- 1st 2nd Total Penn State (8) 30 44 74 Nebraska (16) 52 42 94 ----------------------------------------