Hoffman Estates, Ill. - All-Big Ten forward Jordan Hooper erupted for 24 points in just 28 minutes to lead second-seeded Nebraska to a 76-61 win over Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals at Sears Centre Arena Friday.
With the victory, No. 21 Nebraska improved to 23-7 on the year after going 12-4 in Big Ten regular-season play. The seventh-seeded Hawkeyes slipped to 20-12 after finishing 8-8 in league play and defeating No. 10 seed Northwestern in Thursday's first round.
The Huskers will face No. 3 seed Purdue in Saturday's first tournament semifinal game at 4 p.m. The game will be televised live by the Big Ten Network.
The Boilermakers advanced to the semifinals with a 74-62 win over 11th-seeded Wisconsin on Friday. The Badgers advanced to the quarterfinals by knocking off No. 6 seed Illinois on Thursday in the first round.
Hooper, a 6-2 junior forward from Alliance, Neb., enjoyed an efficient day, going 10-of-20 from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point range while making her only free throw attempt. She added seven rebounds and an assist for the Huskers, who improved to 6-0 against Iowa in two seasons as Big Ten foes.
It was far from a one-woman show for the Huskers on Friday. Overall, eight Huskers produced five or more points on the day. Senior All-Big Ten point guard Lindsey Moore put up 13 points, four rebounds, six assists, a block and a steal in just 29 minutes of work, while going 6-of-10 from the field.
Sophomore forward Hailie Sample contributed eight points and five rebounds, including four offensive boards, while fellow sophomores Tear'a Laudermill and Brandi Jeffery both pitched in eight points off the bench. Laudermill frustrated the Hawkeye guards all day, adding three steals and an assist, while forcing numerous other fouls and turnovers. Jeffery buried a pair of big three-pointers, as Nebraska finished 7-of-20 (35 percent) from long range.
Sophomore Emily Cady also played a tremendous all-around game with five points, eight rebounds, including five offensive, and six assists. She also pitched in a block. Senior forward Meghin Williams added a strong inside presence with five points and three boards, while freshman Rachel Theriot managed five points, four assists and two steals.
Nebraska shot a solid 46 percent (29-63) from the field and added 73.3 percent (11-15) success at the line. The Huskers also dominated the boards, 44-30, while matching Iowa with 19 turnovers.
Theairra Taylor led Iowa with career highs of 22 points and four three-pointers to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in a fine game. Other than 18 points and four three-pointers from Melissa Dixon, the Hawkeyes struggled. Taylor and Dixon combined to go 14-of-28 from the field and 8-of-14 from three-point range, but the rest of the Hawkeyes went just 9-of-32 and 0-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Iowa hit 38.3 percent (23-60) of its shots from the field, including 30.8 percent (8-26) from long range. The Hawkeyes also hit 7-of-9 free throws.
Nebraska closed the first half on a 9-0 run capped by a Theriot three-pointer with four seconds left to take a 34-24 halftime lead. The Huskers held the Hawkeyes scoreless for the final five minutes to surge into the locker room.
NU jumped to an 11-4 lead in the game's first five minutes, but the Hawkeyes responded with a 10-0 run to take a 14-11 lead with 9:30 left in the half. The two teams, who were meeting for the sixth time in the last 14 months, went back and fourth for the next five minutes until the Huskers took control down the stretch in the half.
Hooper led the Huskers with 11 points and four rebounds in the half, while Moore added seven points, four assists and three first-half boards. Eight Huskers scored in the half, including five from Theriot, as NU hit 43.8 percent (14-32) of its first-half shots. The Huskers went 4-for-11 from long range and 2-of-4 at the free throw line. NU outrebounded Iowa, 20-15, in the half and won the turnover battle, 7-4.
Taylor led Iowa with seven points and five boards in the first half, while Morgan Johnson and Samantha Logic each added six points. Dixon rounded out Iowa's first half scoring with five points. The Hawkeyes hit 39.3 percent (11-28) of their first-half shots, but just 2-of-13 three-pointers and did not shoot a free throw, as Nebraska committed just two fouls.
The Huskers immediately extended their lead in the second half with four quick points from Sample and Hooper to push their edge to 38-24. Taylor and Dixon hit back-to-back shots in a 30-second span to cut NU's lead back to single digits at 38-29 with 17:54 left and end a nearly seven-minute scoreless streak for Iowa. But the Huskers answered in a big way, as Sample scored before Hooper hit back-to-back threes in a 33-second span to balloon Nebraska's edge to 17 points at 46-29 with 16:09 left.
Nebraska's lead grew to 20 points for the first time on a Jeffery three-pointer with just over 12 minutes left to make it 58-36 Huskers. The NU lead eventually grew as large as 27 at 72-45 after a pair of Laudermill free throws with 4:54 left.
The Huskers got valuable rest for their starters, as Moore sat out the game's final nine minutes and Hooper remained on the bench for the last six minutes of the contest.