Huskers power past Gophers
Lincoln - Jordan Hooper scored a game-high 27 points to lead Nebraska's most complete effort of the year in an 80-56 women's basketball win over Minnesota at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Sunday afternoon.
Playing in front of a season-high crowd of 6,935 on Super Bowl Sunday in Lincoln, the Huskers notched their fourth straight Big Ten win to improve to 16-6 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Minnesota slipped to 14-9 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten, as Nebraska completed a regular-season sweep of the Gophers.
Hooper, who hit 10-of-17 shots from the field, including 3-of-7 three-pointers, produced her third straight game with 25 or more points for the Huskers. The 6-2 junior forward from Alliance, Neb., moved within just three points of 1,500 in her career.
Sophomore guard Tear'a Laudermill tied her career high with 14 points off the bench, including three three-pointers, which helped put five Huskers in double figures on the day.
Freshman guard Rachel Theriot added a nearly flawless performance with 11 points, a career-high seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Theriot went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, including a three-pointer.
Senior point guard Lindsey Moore added 12 points, seven assists and one steal. Moore pulled within 11 points of 1,500 in her career and joined Nebraska's all-time top 10 in career steals with 190. She also tied a Nebraska record by making the 120th straight start dating to the first game of her NU career.
Sophomore forward Emily Cady added 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals in a tremendous all-around performance.
As a team, Nebraska hit 45.3 percent (29-64) of its shots from the floor, including 7-of-22 three-pointers (31.9 percent). The Huskers also hit 88.2 percent (15-17) of their free throws, while outrebounding Minnesota, 37-36.
Nebraska dominated the turnover battle, 19-9, converting Minnesota's miscues into 31 points and outscoring the Golden Gophers 31-7 in points off turnovers for the game. The Huskers dished out 18 assists while committing just nine turnovers, while Minnesota had just 12 assists against its 19 turnovers.
"That might be the best we have played all over the floor today," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "We were good on defense, we won the boards and we attacked them really aggressively in transition. We hit shots and we had five in double figures, with everybody contributing. We played really, really well today and it is exciting to see this time of year."
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead to open the game eager to avenge an 84-63 loss to the Huskers in Minneapolis just two weeks ago. But NU answered with six straight points from Cady and Hooper to take a 6-5 lead with 16 minutes left in the half.
The Gophers regained a 9-8 lead before Laudermill jumped off the bench and buried back-to-back threes to shoot NU to a 14-9 lead. The Huskers never trailed again, eventually building a 28-point margin with 3:37 left in the contest.
Micaella Riche led Minnesota with 12 points and seven rebounds. The Huskers held the Big Ten's leading scorer, Rachel Banham, to just 11 points. Banham entered the contest averaging 21.5 points per game, including 34.5 points in her last two games. It was her second-lowest scoring total of the year, trailing only the nine points she scored against Michigan State. NU held Banham to just 15 in Minneapolis on Jan. 20.
Minnesota hit 41.4 percent (24-58) of its shots for the game, but just 2-of-8 three-pointers and just 6-of-8 free throws.
Nebraska took a 38-30 lead to the locker room at halftime thanks to 15 points from Hooper. Moore and Laudermill each contributed six first-half points, while Theriot added five points, five rebounds and three assists.
Hooper, Moore and Theriot combined on an 11-2 surge midway through the first half to turn an 18-16 lead with 7:21 left into a 29-18 edge with 5:21 left in the half. NU built its biggest lead of the half at 36-22 on Brandi Jeffery's jumper with three minutes left, before Minnesota closed the half on an 8-2 surge.
Banham and Kayla Hirt combined for all eight Gopher points during the surge and both finished the half with six points apiece. Riche led Minnesota with seven first-half points, as she scored seven of Minnesota's first 12 points of the game.
Nebraska hit 45.2 percent (14-31) of its shots in the half, including 4-of-10 three-pointers and all six of its free throws. NU also won the first-half rebounding battle 18-14, and the turnover battle, 9-6. Minnesota hit 46.2 percent (12-26) but just 1-of-7 from long range. The Gophers were 5-of-6 at the free throw line in the half.
The Huskers return to Big Ten road action on Thursday when Nebraska travels to Evanston, Ill., to battle Northwestern. Tip-off between the Huskers and Wildcats is set for 7 p.m.
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