College Station, Texas - No. 24 Nebraska played its most complete game of the season as the sixth-seeded Huskers knocked off the home-standing and No. 3 seed Texas A&M, 74-63, at Reed Arena on Monday night.
With the victory, Nebraska advanced to the second NCAA Sweet Sixteen in school history by upsetting the 2011 NCAA champion Aggies. The Huskers improved to 25-8 on the season, producing the second-best victory total in school history, trailing only the 32 wins from the 2010 Huskers who also advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Texas A&M ended its season with a 25-10 overall record as the SEC Tournament champions, losing all 10 of its games against teams that advanced to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The Huskers will advance in the Norfolk (Va.) Regional to take on the winner of Tuesday night's game between No. 2 seed Duke and Oklahoma State. NU will play on Sunday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion. Nebraska last played on the ODU campus in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
Senior point guard Lindsey Moore, who was a freshman starting point guard on NU's 2010 Sweet Sixteen squad, played a brilliant game with 20 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and a steal while playing the full 40 minutes. It was Moore's fifth career double-double and second against the Aggies on the court at Reed Arena. Moore hit 6-of-12 shots from the field, including 2-of-4 threes, while knocking down 6-of-7 free throws to seal the win.
Junior All-Big Ten forward Jordan Hooper led all scorers with 21 points, while adding eight rebounds, three steals and a block. Hooper hit 6-of-13 shots from the floor, including 3-of-7 threes, and all six of her free throws.
NU also got a giant lift from Texan Hailie Sample, who recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds. The 6-1 sophomore forward from Flower Mound, Texas, hit 4-of-8 shots and both of her free throws, scoring eight points in the closing minutes to punch the Huskers' ticket to the Sweet Sixteen.
Fellow sophomore forward Emily Cady added eight points, four rebounds and two assists, while freshman guard Rachel Theriot pitched in seven points, two rebounds and three assists. Brandi Jeffery added five points and Tear'a Laudermill knocked down a huge second-half three in a total team effort for the Huskers.
For the game, Nebraska hit 45.6 percent (26-57) of its shots, including 8-of-19 three-pointers (.421). NU was also 14-of-15 at the free throw line, outscoring its two NCAA Tournament opponents in College Station by a combined 32-2 at the line. The Huskers also dominated the glass against All-SEC center Kelsey Bone and the Aggies, 39-27, while winning the turnover battle, 14-13.
Senior point guard Adrienne Pratched led A&M with 17 points, while Bone added 13 points. Courtney Williams managed 11, but it was Jordan Jones who single-handedly kept the Aggies in the game in the second half.
Nebraska surged to a 64-48 lead after a Sample layup with 4:34 left. Jones then hit back-to-back threes and a traditional three-point play in a span of 1:25 to cut the Husker margin to 64-57 with 2:44 remaining. But Sample hit back-to-back layups after two huge rebounds to push the Husker lead to 68-59 with 1:31 left.
NU scored its last six points at the line, as Moore and Hooper each converted a pair, before Sample knocked down the final two with 34.1 left, giving her the first double-double of her career.
Texas A&M played at a high level, hitting 45.9 percent of its shots, including 6-of-14 threes (.429), but the Aggies went just 1-for-2 at the line against a Husker squad that committed just 10 fouls in the game and 16 fouls in 80 minutes of NCAA Tournament first and second-round action.
The Huskers rallied from an early 14-6 deficit to explode on a 19-2 surge and build a 25-16 lead with 7:06 left. Hooper (8), Brandi Jeffery (5) and Cady (4) combined for 17 of the 19 points for the Huskers during the surge. Moore added a shot with with 11:01 left to give the Huskers an 18-16 lead that they did not relinquish the rest of the half.
The Aggies battled back on the their homecourt, cutting NU's edge back to two at 27-25, 29-27 and 32-30, before Theriot fueled an 11-2 surge in the final three minutes to close the half and give the Huskers a 43-32 halftime lead. Theriot, a freshman from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, scored all seven of her first-half points in the final three minutes including an 18-foot turnaround just inside the top of the key at the first-half buzzer.
Nebraska hit 50 percent (18-36) of its first-half shots, including 5-of-12 three-pointers. The Huskers also went 2-for-2 at the free throw, the only free throws of the half for either team. NU outrebounded A&M, 18-16, and won the first-half turnover battle 7-2. Hooper led the Huskers with 12 points and five rebounds, while Moore pitched in nine points and six first-half assists. Cady managed eight points and three rebounds despite two first-half fouls, while Theriot scored all seven of her first-half points during NU's 11-2 surge to close the half.
Texas A&M also shot well in the first half, hitting 46.7 percent (14-30) of its shots, including 4-of-7 threes. Two of the Aggies' threes came as the shot clock expired, including a bank three from center Kelsey Bone that gave A&M a 9-6 lead. A&M did not get to the free throw line at all, as NU committed just four first-half fouls. Pratcher led A&M with 11 first-half points, while Bone added seven points on 3-of-5 shooting.