Huskers Power Past Gorillas in Pinnacle Debut
Lincoln - All-American Jordan Hooper scored 21 points to lead six Huskers in double figures, as the Nebraska women's basketball team cruised to a 98-47 exhibition win over Pittsburg State on Sunday afternoon.
Playing in the first-ever game in the history of Pinnacle Bank Arena, a Nebraska home exhibition record crowd of 4,782 watched Hooper fuel a 16-0 NU run with 13 points in just three minutes in the first half.
"Everything was new today," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "In a lot of ways, it was like playing a road game in our own building because we did everything on game day for the first time. It was great to see such a great crowd though for an exhibition game. That was really exciting."
Hooper's eruption turned a 25-9 NU edge into a 41-9 lead with 4:30 left in the half. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten forward from Alliance, Neb., added nine rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 19 minutes of work.
Junior forward Hailie Sample (Flower Mound, Texas) added 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal, while going 5-of-6 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line for the Huskers. Fellow junior Emily Cady (Seward, Neb.) pitched in a double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, as Nebraska's starting front line combined for 47 points and 25 rebounds.
But the front court production didn't end there. Allie Havers, a 6-5 freshman from Paw Paw, Mich., contributed 14 points and six rebounds off the bench, while going 4-of-6 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. She also knocked down her lone three-point attempt. Junior forward Katie Simon (Roseville, Calif.) added four points and five boards in 13 effective minutes off the bench, giving NU's inside game 65 points and 36 boards on the afternoon.
The forwards flourished despite the Huskers being without the services of sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot (Middleburg Heights, Ohio), who missed the game with an ankle injury suffered during practice on Tuesday. Despite the absence of Theriot and the loss of 2013 WNBA first-round draft pick Lindsey Moore at the point guard spot, who combined for nearly 300 assists last year, the Huskers dished out 25 assists while committing just 11 turnovers against Pittsburg State.
Junior guard Brandi Jeffery (Vacherie, La.) distributed seven assists without a turnover, while adding nine rebounds to go along with four points in a starting role, despite an ankle sprain of her own. Fellow junior Tear'a Laudermill (Riverside, Calif.) came off the bench to dish out six assists without a turnover, while scoring 10 points on the strength of three three-pointers.
Freshman guard Hannah Tvrdy (Seward, Neb.) was equally as impressive, earning a start in her first career game and scoring 14 points to lead the Husker backcourt. She hit 6-of-9 shots from the field, including a three-pointer, while adding four rebounds, a steal and two assists without a turnover.
Overall, Nebraska's five guards combined for 18 assists while committing just one turnover.
"I was really pleased with a couple things, especially our assist-to-turnover and our rebounding effort today," Yori said. "We had a little bit of a height advantage, but I thought we played pretty hard, and I thought we took pretty good care of the ball for most of the game, so those are good places to start."
Nebraska produced a 58-39 advantage on the boards, while hitting 35-of-72 shots from the field for the game (48.6 percent). The Huskers hit 9-of-24 three-pointers (37.5 percent), while connecting on 19-of-28 free throws (67.9 percent).
Pittsburg State hit just 24.6 percent (16-65) of its shots from the floor, including just 2-of-23 three-pointers. The Gorillas also went just 13-of-26 at the free throw line. Antqunita Reed led PSU with 12 points, while NCAA Division II All-American Lizzy Jeronimus pitched in 11 points. No other Gorilla scored more than five points on the day.
Nebraska took a 53-18 lead into the locker room at halftime, thanks to 15 points and six first-half rebounds from Hooper. Cady finished with nine points and five rebounds in the half, while shutting down Jeronimus on the defensive end.
Sample contributed nine points of her own in the first half, while Tvrdy pitched in seven first-half points. Jeffery produced five assists and five rebounds along with two points in the opening period. She finished the game with what would have been a career-high nine boards.
Laudermill came off the bench to bury a pair of threes in the half, while Sadie Murren added five points off the bench, including a three.
"Pittsburg State is a pretty good Division II team that has had some success the past few years, and they are well-coached. We know the competition is just going to continue to get better for us throughout the season though, so we will have to get better, too."
The Huskers conclude exhibition action next week when they take on Nebraska-Kearney. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Lopers is set for Sunday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m.