Huskers Run to 72-54 Win Over Hampton

By NU Athletic Communications
Kiera Hardy scored a career-high 31 points, including a career-best five three-pointers, in a 72-54 win over Hampton Saturday.
Kiera Hardy scored a career-high 31 points, including a career-best five three-pointers, in a 72-54 win over Hampton Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Sophomore Kiera Hardy scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Huskers to a 72-54 win over Hampton in the third-place game of the Paradise Jam in front of 2,097 fans at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center late Saturday night.

Hardy, who led the Huskers in both tournament games after scoring 16 points against North Carolina State, earned a spot on the all-tournament team by averaging a tournament-best 24.5 points per game.  She also hit a career-high five three-pointers against Hampton, who slipped to 0-3 on the season.

The Huskers, who opened the tournament with a 55-45 loss to North Carolina State on Friday, bounced back with an impressive effort against the Lady Pirates.

Hardy picked up where she left off on Friday night by scoring 17 first-half points, after scoring 16 points in the second half against North Carolina State.  She added 14 points in the second half for her career-best point total, which is the most points scored by a Husker individual since Nicole Kubik scored 32 points against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament on March 8, 2000.

The Huskers, who did not trail in the first half, took their biggest lead on Hardy’s third three-pointer with under a minute remaining in the opening stanza to push the lead to 32-22.  Hampton hit a jumper with six seconds left in the half to send the Huskers to the locker room with an eight-point edge.

NU continued to control the game in the second half, pushing the lead to 27 points at 65-38 on a pair of Hardy free throws with 5:36 left in the game.  For the game, Hardy hit 9-of-17 shots from the field, including 5-of-10 three-pointers and all eight of her free throw attempts.

Nebraska Coach Connie Yori, who earned her 200th NCAA Division I victory, said Hardy was a difference-maker for the Huskers against the Lady Pirates.

“She was pretty good tonight,” Yori said.  “She hit shots and she got us going offensively from the opening tip.  She had a great game.”

Hardy’s strong shooting night helped the Huskers hit 41.8 percent (23-55) of their shots from the field, including 7-of-21 three-point attempts.  The Huskers also hit a solid 76 percent (19-25) of their free throw attempts.  NU also outrebounded Hampton 38-29, while forcing 24 Hampton turnovers.  The Huskers committed 19 turnovers of their own against Hampton’s full-court pressure defense.

Hampton hit 43.1 percent (22-51) of its field goals, including 44.4 percent (4-9) of three-point attempts, but managed just 6-of-15 free throws on the night.

Chelsea Aubry added nine points and four rebounds for the Huskers, while Jessica Gerhart managed eight points and four boards of her own.  Senior guard Jina Johansen added a solid effort with a season-high eight assists, along with a team-high five rebounds and five points.

In the championship game, North Carolina State defeated Louisville, 54-49, to claim the Paradise Jam title.  Marquetta Dickens led the Wolfpack with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The Huskers return to Lincoln on Sunday and will be back on the Devaney Center floor for competition on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 7:05 p.m., when they take on Southeastern Louisiana.

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