Nebraska (9-3) vs. Grambling State (1-9)
Saturday, Dec. 29, 7:05 p.m. (central)
Bob Devaney Sports Center (Lincoln, Neb.)
Live Internet Video: HuskersNside (premium subscribers of Huskers.com)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
(Matt Coatney-PBP; Jeff Griesch-Analyst)
(B107.3 FM-Lincoln; The Wolf 93.3 FM-Omaha; 94.1 FM-KNEB, Scottsbluff; 1400 AM-KCOW, Alliance)
Internet: Free live audio on Huskers.com
At one time or another, I think all of us have been in a 'zone'. Everything you do works, you always have fresh ideas and you go about your business with an extreme air of confidence.
Nebraska women's basketball junior forward Jordan Hooper seems to be in her own personal 'zone' as she has fashioned three terrific games in a row to help lead the Huskers to a 9-3 record. In last Thursday night's 80-67 win over Oral Roberts, Hooper scored the first seven points of the game and torched the Golden Eagles for 33 points and nine rebounds. Before she made her only two free throws attempts of the game late in the contest, my tremendous analyst and broadcast partner Jeff Griesch astutely pointed out how rare it was for a player to reach the 30-point plateau in a game without going to the free throw line.
Hooper put up an incredible flurry of points in just 25 minutes prior to that. J-Hoop was 13-of-23 from the floor and knocked down 5-of-10 three-pointers. Her efforts gained recognition as Big Ten Conference Player of the Week, her fourth such honor of her career. Hooper became the ninth player in school history to score 1,300 points and grab 600 rebounds.
In her last three games, she's averaging a blistering 31.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.7 three-pointers per game. She's climbed to 14th on the all-time Husker scoring list and is only 39 rebounds away from cracking the top 10 all-time NU career list. Hooper is also quickly climbing the school career three-pointer list, only 17 away from Vonnie Turner's 183 career triples for second place.
Speaking of climbing the career charts, fellow National Player of the Year candidate Lindsey Moore scaled several rungs on the Nebraska career assist chart against ORU. Moore's eight assists gave her 568 for her career and moved her past Nicole Kubik and Jina Johansen into second place. Zeroes now only has Meggan Yedsena ahead of her and needs to average around six assists per game to get to her school record of 696. Moore also added 15 points and is 32 points away from tying Cory Montgomery for 12th place on the school scoring list.
Moore needs to play just 20 minutes to tie Johansen for fifth on the all-time minutes played list. Moore is also only three games away from tying Amy Stephens for seventh-most starts in Husker history, and Lindsey's streak of 110 consecutive starts is the third-longest in the nation.
Hooper, Moore and the rest of the Huskers will look to close out 2012 on a good note as they finish the calendar year and the non-conference schedule Saturday night by playing host the Grambling State Lady Tigers at 7:05 p.m. (central) at the Devaney Center in Lincoln.
Grambling State has just five players returning on this year's roster from a team that finished 15-15 overall and a very respectable 10-8 in the SWAC in 2011-12. Head coach Donnita Rogers was dismissed after four seasons and now the Lady Tigers are a team in transition. Their roster features six transfers, one freshman and 12 upper classmen. GSU has had 10 players start at least one game this year, but only one (Jessica Watkins) has started every game.
Grambling State is 1-9, with their lone victory coming over Stephen F. Austin in their home opener. The Lady Tigers have faced a formidable non-conference schedule, including losses to traditional powers Kansas, Florida State and LSU. The transition has certainly been tough and it's reflected in GSU's place in various national statistics. Out of 343 Division I teams, Grambling State ranked last (through nine games) in the nation in scoring margin (-27.7) and rebound margin (-16.7) and among the bottom seven teams nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.4), field goal percentage defense (.476) and team free throw percentage (.581).
Sophomore Cierra Ceazer is the only current Lady Tiger player who was a regular starter last season. Ceazer made 21 starts last year and averaged 7.4 points. This season, she has increased her offensive production and is second on the team in scoring with 11.3 points. In last Saturday's 75-62 loss to Tulsa, Ceazer had a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds. She posted a season-high 19 points in a loss to Liberty earlier in the season.
Junior guard JoAnna Miller paces the team's scoring (13.8 points). She started her career at North Carolina Central where she was named the Division I All-Independent Newcomer of the Year in 2010. Her 19.1 point scoring average led the team and was the most points ever scored by a freshman in school history. She had a career-high 32 points against Maryland-Eastern Shore as a freshman and led NCCU in rebounding, steals and free throw percentage. Miller transferred to UC-Irvine after her freshman season, but did not compete for the Anteaters. She has played in seven games this season, starting six. Miller also leads the Lady Tigers in assists and steals this year.
Junior guard Kamiya Burwell transferred to GSU after playing her sophomore season at Georgia Perimeter College. Last spring in the NJCAA Division I Tournament, she helped her team overcome a 23-point second-half deficit by scoring 15 points, all in the second half, to take a two-point lead over Shelton State, before eventually falling 66-60. She helped GPC win their sixth conference championship in eight years, scoring 24 points in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Championship game in an 83-47 win over South Georgia Technical College. Burwell was named tournament MVP as she had four-of-five three-pointers, was eight-of-nine from the field and added six assists, five rebounds and six assists in the championship game. As a freshman, Burwell averaged 8.9 points at Tallahassee (Fla) Community College. She has started four games this season and averages 8.9 points. In GSU's only win this year, Burwell hit a key three-pointer with 4:38 left to tie the game and won it 64-63 over Stephen F. Austin on a layup with two seconds left. She has scored in double figures three times, including a season-high 17 in the Lady Tigers' victory over SFA.
Senior forward Bianca McCowan leads the team in rebounding (4.2) and has started two games, including last Saturday's loss to Tulsa. McCowan tied her season-high with 11 points against Tulsa and averages 4.5 points for the season. Junior forward Victoya Ricks has started seven games and leads the team in blocked shots. She averaged 9.3 points last season at Patrick Henry (VA) Community College. Ricks averaged 4.2 points during her freshman campaign at Monroe (NY) Community College.
Junior forward Jessica Watkins has started every game. Watkins played last season at PHCC with Ricks, where she averaged 9.5 points. She had the same scoring average in 32 games during her freshman season at Guilford Technical (NC) Community College. Watkins produced a season-high 14 points in GSU's loss at LSU earlier this year. She averages 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds. Juniors Tyler Anderson and Lucretia Richard have each started three games this season. Anderson and Richard were teammates last year at Southern University- Shreveport (LA) Community College. Junior forward Briana Gibson has also started three games, including a season-best eight points against Fresno State. Gibson averaged 9.6 points and 9.4 rebounds last year for College of Central Florida. Senior forward Alexis Andrews started seven games last year for the Lady Tigers and has drawn one start this season. She transferred two seasons ago from Kilgore (TX) Junior College.
Patricia Cage-Bibbs has returned to her alma mater for her second tenure as head coach of Grambling State. She is the only women's basketball coach to record 500 career wins exclusively at a Division I historically black college or university. Cage-Bibbs' teams have appeared in the post-season eight times, won 17 conference championships and ten conference tournament titles, including three in the past four years at North Carolina A&T. In addition to her seven years coaching the Aggies, she coached Hampton for seven years after leading GSU for 13 seasons. In her first coaching stint, she led the Lady Tigers to 244 victories. In 1997, Cage-Bibbs became the first coach in SWAC history to lead a team to an undefeated season (15-0) throughout conference play. Recently the SWAC honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Nebraska has a 3-0 lead in the all-time series with Grambling State. All three games have been in Lincoln, with the Huskers winning the last meeting in 2005 69-40.
I cordially invite you to join Jeff Griesch and me for Nebraska women's basketball on the Husker Sports Network. Our radio broadcast Saturday evening beings with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on the Husker Sports Network, including Lincoln affiliate KBBK 107.3 FM (B107.3), KTWI 93.3 FM (The Wolf) in Omaha, KCOW 1400 in Alliance, KNEB 94.1 in Scottsbluff and available to our entire twenty-five network stations. All Husker women's basketball broadcasts are also available for free worldwide on the internet at www.huskers.com. I hope you can join us.
There are a number of ways to get enhanced information about our broadcast and Husker women's basketball via social media. You can learn more about the team on the Nebraska Women's Basketball Facebook page or follow the team on their official Twitter page @huskerswbb. I also invite you to friend me on Facebook (Matt Coatney) or follow me on Twitter @coatman1.
Go Big Red!