Hooper and Theriot have big nights
Indianapolis - Big Ten Player of the Year Jordan Hooper erupted for 33 points and 12 rebounds, while Rachel Theriot set a Big Ten Tournament record with 18 assists to go along with 14 points to power the No. 16 Nebraska women's basketball team to an 80-67 win over Minnesota on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 23-6 on the season while advancing to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the third consecutive season. The third-seeded Big Red will face the No. 2 seed and Big Ten Conference co-regular-season champion Michigan State on Saturday at approximately 5 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network and available on radio on the Husker Sports Network.
Hooper, a 6-2 senior forward from Alliance, Neb., notched her 10th career 30-point performance to go along with her 38th career double-double. It was her 12th double-double of the season. She hit 14-of-22 shots from the floor, including 3-of-6 threes and both of her free throws. Hooper did more than score and rebound, she added two assists, two blocks and two steals for the Huskers.
Somehow, Hooper's performance was overshadowed by the unbelievable floor game of Theriot. The 6-0 point guard from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, dished out a career-high 18 assists, shattering the previous Big Ten Tournament record of 12 held by Penn State's Helen Darling in 2000. Theriot's total is also the most ever by a Big Ten player against a conference foe in any game, surpassing 16 by Maggie Acuna of Illinois in 2016.
Theriot's 18 assists marked the second-highest assist total in any game in Nebraska history, trailing only 19 assists by Kathy Hawkins against Nebraska-Kearney on Feb. 17, 1976. It was the first time since 1976 that any Husker had produced 15 or more assists in a game.
Theriot also became the first player in Nebraska history to dish out 200 assists in a season, pushing her season total to 201 to break the previous school record of 195 set by Meggan Yedsena in 1991-92 and matched by Lindsey Moore in 2012-13.
It was Theriot's third double-double of the season and her fourth double-digit assist total. Her previous career high came with 12 against Michigan State on Feb. 8 in Lincoln.
Junior forward Emily Cady added 15 big points, four rebounds and three assists for the Big Red. She scored 11 after halftime. Fellow junior Hailie Sample added six points and eight rebounds, while helping to shut down Minnesota's All-Big Ten guard Rachel Banham. Sample, Tear'a Laudermill and Brandi Jeffery, held the Big Ten's leading scorer to just four points in the second half and 12 for the game. Laudermill scored all eight of her points in the second half, including two big threes.
Banham finished with 12 points, while Stabresa McDaniel led Minnesota with 14 points on 7-of-19 shooting. McDaniel added seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in a big effort off the bench for the Golden Gophers.
Kayla Hirt contributed 10 points and seven boards, including eight points in the first half. NU also held Big Ten Freshman of the Year Amanda Zahui to just 11 points and nine rebounds. Zahui entered the game averaging better than 15 points and 11 boards per contest.
Minnesota finishes the regular season with a 20-12 record that included an 8-8 Big Ten regular-season mark and a 1-1 stay in the conference tournament. The Golden Gophers will await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on March 17, to see if they earned a trip to the Big Dance.
The Huskers took a 37-35 lead to halftime thanks to huge first halves from Hooper and Theriot. Hooper pumped in 17 points and grabbed five rebounds while dishing out two assists. Theriot nearly notched a first-half double-double with 10 points and nine assists to go along with four first-half rebounds.
Minnesota took its first lead of the game early in the second half on a layup by Zahui with 17:43 left to give the Gophers a 42-41 edge. Hirt scored her final points of the night 43 seconds later to extend the margin to 44-41, before Hooper answered with a three to tie the game at 44.
The Gophers took their biggest lead of the night at 50-46 after six straight points by McDaniel to make it 50-46 with 13:42 left.
However, Laudermill and Cady answered with back-to-back threes to give the Huskers the lead back at 52-50 before a pair of Banham free throws tied the game for the last time at 52 with 12:14 left.
Hooper then scored five straight points before Cady hit another jumper to cap a 7-0 run that gave the Big Red a 59-52 lead.
Minnesota trimmed the margin back to 61-59 on Mikayla Bailey's third three of the night with 6:50 left, but Nebraska answered with a decisive 11-0 run over the next 3:23 that included single buckets by each of the starting five, including a three by Laudermill that put the Big Red up by double digits for the first time in the game.
Nebraska finished the night 50 percent (32-64) from the floor, including 58.6 percent (17-29) in the second half. The Huskers went 8-for-20 (.400) from three-point range and 8-for-9 at the line. NU outrebounded Minnesota, 36-32, and won the turnover battle 11-10.
Minnesota closed at 46 percent (29-63), including 6-for-14 from long range, and 3-for-4 at the free throw line.
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