Huskers Fly By Hawkeyes to Big Ten Semifinals
Lindsey Moore gave the No. 24 Nebraska women's basketball team a huge game, while Jordan Hooper and Emily Cady provided double-doubles to power the Huskers past Iowa, 80-68, in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon.
With the victory, the sixth-seeded Huskers rolled into the Big Ten Tournament semifinals in their first appearance at the event. Nebraska will face No. 2 seed Ohio State, which improved to 25-5 with a 57-48 win over seventh-seeded Michigan in Friday's first quarterfinal game. The game between the No. 24 Huskers and No. 14 Buckeyes will be the second in less than a week between the two schools, after Nebraska battled to a 71-57 win at the Devaney Center on Sunday, Feb. 26.
Tip time for Saturday's first semifinal game at the Big Ten Tournament is set for 4 p.m. (central) with live television coverage provided by the Big Ten Network. A live radio broadcast will also be available from the Husker Sports Network, including B107.3 FM in Lincoln and 93.3 FM The Wolf in Omaha, along with a free audio broadcast on Huskers.com.
Nebraska improved to 23-7 overall, matching the second-best victory total in school history, trailing only NU's 32-2 season in 2009-10. The Huskers, who finished 10-6 in Big Ten regular-season play, defeated the Hawkeyes for the third time this season.
Iowa slipped to 19-11 overall after going 11-5 in the Big Ten regular season, as Nebraska snapped Iowa's eight-game winning streak dating back to the Huskers' 60-53 win in Lincoln on Jan. 26.
“We showed we were a tough team today,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “We had to overcome some foul trouble from Jordan Hooper in the first half, and we had to dig in. I thought we did that. When we got down we just kept battling and Lindsey Moore played some great basketball, which was great to see. She controlled the game today. It was an exciting win, and I'm excited for our players.”
Moore, a Naismith National Player-of-the-Year candidate, fueled a second-half Nebraska comeback from a 48-40 deficit to roll to the 12-point win. The 5-9 junior point guard from Covington, Wash., poured in a game-high 26 points with six assists and five steals. She hit 10-of-15 shots, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Moore's long-range shooting played a huge role in the Husker comeback. NU fell behind by eight late in the first half, but her 35-foot buzzer-beater following a steal gave the Huskers momentum despite trailing 36-33 at the half.
Iowa took its biggest lead at 44-35 with 17:30 left and maintained a 48-40 edge with 15:38 left, before three straight threes spurred the Husker rally. Nebraska's long-range barrage began with the first career three-pointer from freshman Hailie Sample. The 6-1 forward from Flower Mound, Texas, matched her career high with 10 points for the second straight game, giving her three double-digit scoring efforts on the year.
Moore buried back-to-back threes in the next 1:25 to shoot NU to its first lead of the second half at 49-48. Iowa got a bucket from Melissa Dixon to stop the Huskers' 9-0 run, but Hooper answered with an inverted three-point play to push Nebraska's edge to 52-50.
Kamille Wahlin, who led Iowa with 17 points and five assists, tied the game at 52, before Hooper scored again to give Nebraska the lead for good at 54-52 with 12:22 left. Hooper scored 13 of her 15 points and grabbed nine of her 10 rebounds in the second half, after playing just two first-half minutes because of foul trouble.
Hooper, a first-team All-Big Ten pick and a Wade and Naismith National Player-of-the-Year candidate, produced her Big Ten-leading 12th double-double of the season. In two tournament games, Hooper has scored 33 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in just 37 total minutes.
Cady, an All-Big Ten Freshman pick added a basket to push the NU lead to two possessions at 56-52 with 11:53 left and force an Iowa timeouot. Cady finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for her second career double-double, marking the first time that she and Hooper both notched double-doubles in the same game.
Iowa's timeout did not slow the Husker flurry, as Moore buried her third three-pointer in three minutes to push NU's edge to three possessions at 59-52. Iowa would not get closer than three points the rest of the way, as Moore and Hooper combined for 13 straight points to push Nebraska's margin to 72-61 with 4:32 left.
Senior guard Kaitlyn Burke then drained Nebraska's fifth three of the second half to give the Huskers at 75-61 lead with 3:40 left. Moore added a traditonal three-point play, and Sample buried two free throws to give Nebraska its largest lead at 80-64 with 1:27 left.
The Huskers outscored Iowa 47-32 in the second half to produce their second straight 80-plus scoring effort at the Big Ten Tournament, after managing 80 points just once in Big Ten regular-season play – a 93-89 triple-overtime win at Purdue. The Huskers had not scored 80 points in regulation since closing non-conference play with an 80-71 win over South Dakota State on Dec. 21.
For the game, Nebraska shot 46 percent (29-63) from the field, including 36.8 percent (7-19) from three-point range. The Huskers also hit 75 percent (15-20) of their free throws. NU dominated the boards with a 44-34 edge, posting their second straight double-digit rebound margin at the tournament.
The Huskers opened the game with a 17-9 lead despite early foul trouble from Hooper, who was whistled for her second foul just 1:48 into the game. Iowa responded to take its biggest lead at 36-28, before the Huskers scored the final five points of the half, including Moore buzzer-beating three from about 15 feet behind the top of the key.
Nebraska trailed 36-33 at the half, but got eight points and six rebounds in the first half from Cady. Moore added seven points, two assists and three steals in the opening period. The Huskers made up for the absence of Hooper with seven other NU players scoring in the half after Hooper scored the first two points of the game.
The Huskers hit 42.9 percent (12-28) of their shots, including 2-of-7 first-half threes, while connecting on 7-of-10 free throws. NU won the rebounding battle, 18-15, but lost the turnover battle, 8-7.
Iowa shot 51.7 percent (15-29) in the half, including 5-of-12 threes, but hit just 1-of-3 free throws. Wahlin led the Hawkeyes with 13 points, including three long three-pointers, while Samantha Logic pitched in 12 first-half points before finishing with 17. She added eight rebounds and six assists, while Morgan Johnson managed 12 points, four boards and six blocks to help the Hawkeyes.
*Nebraska's win over Iowa to improve to 2-0 in the Big Ten Tournament marked the first time the Huskers have won two games in a conference tournament since beating Baylor and Kansas at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., in 2000.
*Nebraska's game with Ohio State Saturday will mark the Huskers first conference semifinal appearance since the 2010 Big 12 Tournament. NU's previous semifinal appearance also came in 2000.
* Lindsey Moore increased her career scoring total to 1,113 points to move into No. 17 on the Nebraska scoring list, passing Nafeesah Brown (1992-94), Ann Halsne (1988-91), Yvonne Turner (2006-10) and Dominique Kelley (2008-11). Moore's 26-point effort marked the seventh-highest scoring total by a Husker in Big 12/Big Ten Tournament play.
*Moore's four three-pointers tied the Nebraska Big 12/Big Ten tournament individual record, joining Amanda Went's four threes against Baylor in 2000.
*Moore is averaging 20 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals in two tournament games.
*Jordan Hooper notched her Big Ten-leading 12th double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in little more than a half against Iowa. Hooper is averaging 16.5 points and 8.0 boards per game in Big Ten Tournament play.
*Freshman Hailie Sample is averaging 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in Big Ten Tournament play. Sample entered the tournament averaging 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist.