Second half Hooper explosion carries Huskers to win
College Station, Texas - Jordan Hooper produced her ninth double-double of the year with 21 points and 12 rebounds to rally No. 24 Nebraska to a 73-59 win over Chattanooga in the NCAA Tournament at Reed Arena Saturday.
With the victory, No. 6 seed Nebraska improved to 24-8 overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round for the third time in the past six years. NU will face third-seeded Texas A&M (25-9) on Monday at 8:30 p.m. The Aggies advanced to the second round with a 71-45 win over No. 14 seed Wichita State in Saturday's first game.
The 11th-seed Lady Mocs, who were the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament champions, finished with a 29-4 overall record, as the Huskers snapped their 19-game winning streak.
Hooper, a 6-2 junior forward from Alliance, Neb., hit her final six shots of the game, including three consecutive three-pointers to shoot Nebraska to a double-digit lead at 71-59 with 2:28 left in the game. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in the second half alone.
Hooper was far from a one-woman show in the second half though, as Nebraska rallied from a 47-38 deficit with 15 minutes left against the hot-shooting Lady Mocs. After UTC's Alex Black hit her fourth three-pointer of the game with 15:45 left, the Lady Mocs were 9-for-19 from long range, including 3-of-4 in the first 4:15 of the second half.
But the Huskers responded with a 9-2 surge, including a three-point play from Emily Cady and a three-pointer from Rachel Theriot to trim the Lady Moc margin to 49-47 with 12:25 left.
Then Hooper happened.
Nebraska's long-range bomber buried her first three of the game with 10:23 left to give NU its first lead of the second half at 50-49. She added a layup 30 seconds later to put the Huskers up 52-49 and cap a 14-2 spurt.
For the next two minutes, the lead changed hands several times until Lindsey Moore scored on a drive to give Nebraska the lead for good at 58-57 with eight minutes left. Hooper added a pair of free throws to put NU back up three at 60-57 with 6:28 left, before another layup from Moore gave the Huskers their biggest lead of the game at five points (62-57) with 5:43 to go.
A layup from UTC's Tatianna Jackson cut NU's margin briefly back to three at 62-59 with just over five minutes remaining, before consecutive threes from Hooper at 4:17, 3:23 and 2:28, ended any upset hopes for Chattanooga.
Hooper finished 7-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range while knocking down 3-of-4 free throws on the night, after opening the game 1-of-8 from the floor.
Moore, a 5-9 senior point guard from Covington, Wash., added a terrific all-around game with 13 points, five rebounds, a game-high seven assists and two steals, while going 4-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 at the line.
Cady, a 6-2 sophomore forward from Seward, Neb., provided a strong complement to Hooper inside. Cady finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a block.
Theriot, a 6-0 freshman gurad from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, also played well from start to finish for the Big Red, finishing with 12 points, two assists and a steal. Theriot hit 4-of-7 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 three-pointers and both of her free throw attempts.
Sophomore Tear'a Laudermill gave the Huskers a huge spark off the bench, pumping in nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, including a first-half three. Fellow sophomore Hailie Sample added four points and four rebounds in her first collegiate game in her homestate of Texas, while Meghin Williams and Katie Simon each pitched in two points off the bench.
For the game, Nebraska hit 48 percent (24-50) of its shots from the field, including 53.8 percent (7-13) from three-point range. NU was 5-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half. The Huskers also dominated at the free throw line, outscoring UTC 18-1, while hitting 78.3 percent (18-23). UTC was 1-of-1. Nebraska committed just six fouls in the game, which tied for the Big Red's second-fewest fouls in school history, trailing only the five fouls they committed against Ohio State Feb. 14, while matching the six NU committed at Michigan Feb. 21. It is the sixth time this season NU has been whistled for single-digit fouls in a game.
The Huskers controlled the glass, outrebounding Chattanooga, 39-30, but lost the turnover battle 15-12. NU did hold UTC to just 36.4 percent shooting (24-66) for the game, but the Lady Mocs finished 10-of-28 from long range, despite hitting just one of their final nine three-point attempts.
Taylor Hall led UTC with 13 points, including 3-of-5 three-point shooting, and eight rebounds, while Black added 12 points and five assists. Kayla Christopher contributed 11 points in the loss. Hooper and the Huskers held UTC's Ashlen Dewart to just eight points, about half of her season average.
Nebraska went to the locker room tied at 32 with the Lady Mocs. Theriot led the Huskers with nine first-half points, while Moore added seven points and a pair of assists. Nebraska jumped to a quick 4-0 lead in the game's opening minute, but Chattanooga used hot three-point shooting in the first half to take four-point leads on several occasions, the last time coming at 30-26 with 4:45 left.
NU answered with a 6-0 run to take a 32-30 lead on a Moore layup with 1:25 left. The Lady Mocs answered with the last two points of the half from Faith Dupree to end the Husker run with just over a minute left. Dupree and Dewart each finished with six first-half points, while combining to go 6-of-9 from the field. Hall led the Lady Mocs with nine first-half points on a trio of three-pointers, while adding a team-best five rebounds and two assists. Black also had six points and a pair of three-pointers.
Chattanooga hit 6-of-15 threes in the half, while knocking down 13-of-33 shots (.394) overall. Nebraska won the first-half rebounding battle 18-15 and did not surrender a free throw attempt to the Lady Mocs.
The Huskers hit 41.7 percent (10-24) of its first-half field goal attempts, but just 2-of-7 three-pointers. NU did connect on 10-of-12 free throws in the opening period, but lost the first-half turnover battle, 11-7.
Nebraska will face the hosts from Texas A&M in Monday's second round game at Reed Arena. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. with live coverage provided by ESPN2.
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