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OSU Athletics
Columbus Dispatch
The OZone
OSU Athletics
March. 3, 2012
Huskers advance to Big Ten final.

Indianapolis — Jordan Hooper notched her second straight double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Kaitlyn Burke tied her career high with 20 points to power the No. 24 Nebraska women's basketball team to a 77-62 win over No. 14 Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday.

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Brackets | Tourney Central
With the victory, Nebraska registered its fourth straight victory and its second over the Buckeyes in the past seven days to improve to 24-7 on the season. The Huskers played their way their first conference tournament championship game since the 1993 Big Eight Tournament in Salina, Kan., where NU fell 64-60 to Kansas. Nebraska has never won a conference postseason tournament title.

NU's 24 wins mark the second-highest total in school history, trailing only the Huskers' 32-2 season in 2009-10.

The sixth-seeded Huskers, who went 10-6 in Big Ten regular-season play, snapped Ohio State's 10-game Big Ten Tournament winning streak and sent the defending champions home with a 25-6 overall record and an 11-5 Big Ten mark.

The Huskers overcame a 13-point first-half deficit with a 16-0 run that started a 40-10 surge in a 10-minute span against the Buckeyes.

Hooper, a national player-of-the-year candidate and first-team All-Big Ten selection, produced her 20th 20-point game of the season and her Big Ten-leading 13th double-double against the Buckeyes. The 6-2 sophomore forward from Alliance, Neb., buried four three-pointers on the day and went 5-for-5 from the free throw line to lead the Huskers.

Hooper teamed with Burke and freshman guard Brandi Jeffery to ignite the Huskers after falling behind 24-11 with just over six minutes left in the first half. Burke's 20 points marked the highest scoring total of her career in a regulation game. Her previous career high came with 20 points in an overtime win as a junior against Kansas in Lincoln on Jan. 16, 2011.

Jeffery scored all eight of her points in the first half, after the Huskers fell behind 21-8. The 5-7 freshman from Vacherie, La., added five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 19 minutes off the bench.

After the Huskers opened 2-for-20 from the field and 0-for-8 from three-point range, Jeffery came off the bench and hit NU's first three of the game. Following Jeffery's shot, Burke began the the Huskers' 16-0 run with back-to-back baskets to cut OSU's lead to 24-15. Then Hooper struck with her first three to cut the margin to 24-18 with five minutes left. A Jeffery free throw was followed by a long two from Hooper, before Emily Cady connected on a three-pointer to tie the game for the first time at 24 with 3:21 left.

Cady finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and a career-high six steals for the Huskers in a strong effort.

Burke's first three-pointer game Nebraska its first lead at 27-24 with 2:42, before Samantha Prahalis, who led OSU with a game-high 23 points, stopped the bleeding with a layup to pull OSU back within one.

But Hooper added another three and Jeffery followed with a two to push the Husker margin to 32-26 with 1:07 left. Another Prahalis layup cut NU's lead to 32-28, but the Big Ten Player of the Year was issued a technical foul as she ran down the floor motioning to the crowd.

Lindsey Moore connected on both free throws before Jeffery scored again to give NU an eight-point edge at 34-26 and cap a 25-4 NU eruption. Prahalis scored again to the end half to send the Huskers to the locker room with a 36-30 edge. The Huskers closed the half by hitting 10 straight shots before a Hooper miss at the buzzer.

Prahalis hit a pair of free throws to start the second half and briefly get the Buckeyes back within four, but Hooper answered with a three-point play. Back-to-back baskets by Burke, Hailie Sample and a another three from Hooper pushed NU's lead to 46-32 with 17:12 left. Moore capped Nebraska's 12-0 run with two more free throws to give the Huskers a 16-point lead with 16:15 left.

Moore finished with eight points and seven assists while controlling the backcourt for the Huskers. The 5-9 junior point guard is averaging 14 points and 4.7 assists in tournament play.

Sample, who matched her career high with back-to-back 10-point performances to open the tournament, added eight points and six rebounds. The 6-1 freshman forward from Flower Mound, Texas, who entered the tournament averaging 3.4 points per game, moved her tournament average to 9.3 points per contest in three straight Husker wins.

The Buckeyes never mounted a serious threat the rest of the way, as the Husker lead grew as large to 19 points at 66-47. OSU got no closer than 12 points at 70-58 with two minutes left, before NU regained a 17-point edge with under a minute to play.

Nebraska shot just 39.4 percent (26-66) from the field for the game, but did hit 24-of-46 shots to end the game, after opening 2-for-20. The Huskers hit 36 percent (9-25) of their threes, going 8-for-16 in the final 27 minutes. NU also hit 84.2 percent (16-19) of its free throws, while outrebounding the Buckeyes, 44-37. The Huskers also matched OSU in the turnover department with 14.

Ohio State hit 41 percent (25-61) of its shots, but went just 2-of-16 from three-point range. The Buckeyes hit 10-of-14 free throws.

Tayler Hill, the Big Ten's leading scorer entering the tournament with nearly 21 points per game, joined Prahalis in double figures but was held to a season-low 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting, including an 0-for-6 effort from long range. Freshman Raven Ferguson added 13 points off the bench - all in the second half. No other Buckeye managed more than six points.

Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.