Posted by: Sports
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.
POSTGAME QUOTES – NEBRASKA
Connie Yori, Nebraska Head Coach:
"I thought the game was played at a pace early on that I expected. I thought for a while that the game was going to be played in the 80s or 90s. I thought our players did a really good job of facing adversity. We were down by nine and we could have easily folded up the tent and headed back to Lincoln, but our players did a really good job. We switched defenses at about the 11-minute mark, and they did a really good job of responding and playing the personnel. We started getting some things going on offense. Jordan had a huge second half, but we got good play from our other kids, too. We shot the ball well throughout the game. With Chattanooga, it is a little bit like choosing your poison. We tried to do a good job on their inside game. We had two Chattanooga kids go 8-for-10 from the three-point line. In particular, Alexis Black was shooting only about 25 percent from the three-point line for the season and went 4-for-5 tonight. That's a little unexpected, but they are competitors. We had played a lot of zone up until that point, then we went to man. I thought our kids did a really good job of responding."
On Jordan Hooper's performance:
"I've seen it a few times. This is not the first time we have seen Jordan make consecutive shots and make a number of consecutive shots. That's Jordan Hooper. When she has that going, you want to run some stuff for her and give her the opportunity to show it. She had a good matchup, too. They had (Ashlen) Dewart on her for a while there, so that was definitely to our advantage. I think what got Jordan going was that she got some inside touches."
On going to man-to-man defense:
"Man is our base defense. We work on man all the time. We didn't necessarily go into the game preparing to play a lot of man, but it just worked out that way. Like I said, pick your poison. Early on, they made a lot of three-pointers. They deserved that so we had to make some adjustments. Our kids know how to play man defense and maybe they weren't perfect but we weren't perfect in our zone either."
On Emily Cady's performance:
"I thought she was typical Emily Cady. She does everything. She fills the stat line. She is a player that can do a lot of things well. She's a competitor. Not only does she rebound, but her defense is good. She was disruptive at times, and she beat a kid off the dribble several times, whether she got to the basket or created something for somebody else."
On Chattanooga's 3-point shots:
"Like I said, we did a pretty good job on their leading 3-point shooter. Going into the game, we said that we were probably going to have to give something up because of their inside game and the fact that that's hard for us to match with. They have some kids that made more shots than they normally do, so you have to give them credit. That's when we went to change the defense."
On facing Texas A&M:
"We have a lot to learn between now and then. Besides our scout, I haven't looked at any A&M other than just watching the first half of their game. Blair's teams are known for their defense and their pressure. They obviously have Kelsey Bone, who is a great interior scorer. She also has some good guards to go around her. Typical Gary Blair team. There have been years where they have maybe been stronger at guard and not as good at the post. Right now, they've got good inside and outside game. Kelsey Bone is definitely a kid that is going to get our attention, and we have to figure out what we are going to do. This is like Big 12 reunion. Gary Blair is one of the great coaches and the great characters in our game. It will be interesting to go head-to-head against him again."
On playing aggressively:
"The fact that we played a lot of zone may be why they did not get to the line. That's why they shot as many threes at they did. We weren't pressuring them hard until later in the game. We are a team that does not foul that much. Historically, we have not fouled that much this year. When we went to our man, we didn't have many fouls up on the board so we could be kind of be aggressive. I thought that was good. I don't know what we had at that point. I think we only had one or two fouls, so we could be a bit more aggressive."
On team improvement:
"I think our kids are more patient this year. I felt like our players were trying to do the things offensively that we have worked on and talked about. We had 32 points in the paint. For us, that is really good. We didn't settle for threes, although we did turn it over too much, particularly in the first half. We got things going to the basket off the dribble and we got things in the paint off the post. You think, ‘They are bigger than us.' The way they played us, we had some opportunities there. We probably had a bit of a speed advantage inside."
On playing bigger players:
"There's a variety of kids in the Big 10. You have Morgan Johnson at Iowa. She is very different from Kelsey Bone, but she is second team all-conference. Jasmine Hines from Michigan State is a kid who comes off the bench and is a major force when she has her game going. Pretty much everybody is bigger than us. Purdue's got interior scorers, and they hurt us in the Big 10 tournament. That's why we played a lot of zone tonight. After the Big 10 tournament, we said, ‘We can't get beat that way.' We had to figure something else out. When you play against good teams, it's not just about taking away their inside game. It's also that, generally, if they are at this level, they have kids who can make plays from the perimeter as well as the post. We will definitely be challenged."
Lindsey Moore, Senior, Guard
On Nebraska's defense:
"Our defense was really effective for us. Our biggest thing was our defense was creating our offense. We were getting stops and getting steals. Anytime we can get a rebound and then get out and push the ball, we're going to be successful. That's Nebraska basketball. Just to be able to have our defense create our offense in the second half was a huge boost for us."
On the game plan:
"One of the things we wanted to focus on was our inside game with our post players. If they weren't going to front our post players then we have quick post players who can get by them. We were trying to read how they were playing us. We have all the confidence in our posts. We wanted to take advantage with that and not go away from it even though they were hitting 3s from the outside."
On Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair:
"One of the things with him is he has really good guard play and good post play. They are really balanced inside and out. He has them running their system very well. He gets his team motivated and ready to play for every game. It's going to be a tough matchup. We knew that coming in and playing on their home court. It's going to be a tough one for us. I have all the confidence in my team that we can battle with them. It's going to come down to who takes care of the ball and who gets rebounds."
Jordan Hooper, Junior, Forward
On the differences in the first and second halves:
"I don't know if anything was different. I think I just gained more confidence. My teammates and coaches definitely gave me a boost of confidence at halftime. I came out in the second half and they talked to me and got me going."
On when her confidence level rose:
"I don't know if it was a particular play. If I can get my inside game going then it makes it easier for me to get going on the outside. It's easier to get baskets closer to the hoop and that helps your confidence for the outside baskets."
On the play-calling:
"Coach just kept calling plays for me to run and so that gave me a lot of confidence knowing that she had confidence in me. If she's going to put me in that position then I'm going to shoot it."
LOCKER ROOM QUOTES – NEBRASKA
Emily Cady, Sophomore, Forward
On Nebraska's post play:
"We really tried to single Hooper on one of their guards, because I'm pretty sure there were guards mostly guarding her. So we were trying to throw it inside to Hooper and distract the other players so she could get an open layup. That was mainly our game plan from the beginning."
On what separated themselves in the second half:
"Meghin (Williams) brought a lot of energy and she helped us get refocused, pick up our energy, and then Hooper starting making her outside shots and that really picked us up."
Rachel Theriot, Freshman, Guard
On Nebraska's balanced scoring:
"I think it was just running the plays that we were supposed to and finding the open person. If someone was covered, knowing the other options.
On Jordan Hooper's trio of 3-pointer's:
"I honestly didn't even notice we were up by that much. The game was just going, but it definitely carried a lot of momentum for us and kept us going until the end.