Hooper's big game lifts Huskers past FSU
Lincoln - All-American Jordan Hooper erupted for 36 points and 12 rebounds to power No. 25 Nebraska past previously unbeaten No. 24 Florida State, 78-77, on Saturday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
With the win, Nebraska improved to 7-3 on the season, while the Seminoles slipped to 7-1. Florida State came to Lincoln undefeated with all seven wins by double digits, including wins over Vanderbilt, Iowa and Florida.
Hooper, a 6-2 junior forward from Alliance, Neb., served notice early that she would bounce back quickly from the worst offensive performance of her career on Wednesday. After being held scoreless in a loss at Creighton in the mid-week, Hooper produced her second straight huge home game.
Hooper had 22 points and six rebounds in the first half alone, before finishing with a career-high 36 while adding her fourth double-double of the season and 21st of her career. Hooper hit 6-of-11 three-pointers on the day while going 12-of-20 overall from the field. She also added one assist and one blocked shot. In her previous home game last Saturday against defending Big Sky Conference champion Idaho State, Hooper had 29 points and 10 boards.
"I knew I was on during shoot-around today," Hooper said. "I was just glad to come out and hit some shots. This was a big win for our team against a great Florida State team."
Sophomore forward Emily Cady added a season-high 15 points to go along with three rebounds by hitting 7-of-14 shots from the field, including 1-of-2 threes.
Senior Lindsey Moore may have played the best all-around game for the Huskers with 14 points, five rebounds, eight assists and five steals. She scored 11 in the second half, including two free throws with 22 seconds left to give the Huskers the win.
However, the final 22 seconds provided plenty of drama for the 3,864 raucous fans at the Devaney Center. Nebraska played 17 seconds of solid defense on the Seminoles before point guard Morgan Toles through up a tough running jumper with five ticks on the clock. Toles' shot was off the mark, before Chelsea Davis grabbed the board and threw up a wild shot with just over two seconds left. Natasha Howard went high for the board on the left side of the paint and missed again.
Cady was called for her fifth foul on the play and a long delay of several minutes ensued. The officials reviewed the play from all angles to make sure of the shooter, the foul and the time on the clock.
As Howard went to the line with 0.4 seconds on the clock, Nebraska Coach Connie Yori called her final timeout. As the two teams were at their respective benches, the officials continued to review the play. When the teams took to the paint and Howard stepped to the line, 1.3 seconds went up on the clock.
The Devaney Center crowd reached a fever pitch and Howard's first free throw rattled off the rim, keeping the Huskers in front at 78-77. Nebraska's crowd grew even louder for Howard's second attempt, which traveled only about 12 feet and fell harmlessly to the floor. After FSU took its final timeout, Nebraska inbounded the ball and the game was finally over.
"Our crowd was unbelievable throughout the game, but I'm not sure I've ever heard the Devaney Center louder than it was at the end," Yori said. "Our crowd was huge today. They gave us energy throughout the game, and they were definitely there for us at the end."
Nebraska finished the day 28-of-62 from the field (45.2 percent), while hitting 9-of-23 three-pointers (39.1 percent). The Huskers also hit 13-of-18 free throws. NU also won the possession battle against an FSU squad that entered the game at plus-9.4 on the boards and plus-2.9 in turnovers. The Huskers dominated the glass, 38-31, including 15 offensive boards. NU also won the turnover battle, 17-16.
Florida State, one of the nation's best shooting teams, made the most of its possessions, hitting 53.6 percent (30-56) from the field, including 77.8 percent (7-9) of its three-pointers. The Seminoles went 10-of-15 from the line, including Howard's 2-for-6.
Leonor Rodriguez led FSU with 24 points, including 21 in the second half. She hit 9-of-14 shots from the field, including 4-of-4 three-pointers. Alexis Deluzio added 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-4 three-pointers. Chasity Clayton added 14 points, while Howard finished with eight points and seven boards.
Nebraska trailed 30-23 with 7:37 left in the first half before Hooper carried the Huskers back to the lead. Hooper answered an FSU run with an 8-0 run of her own to give NU a 31-30 edge before Clayton scored four straight points for the Seminoles. After Hooper missed the second of a one-and-one free throw opportunity, Meghin Williams scrapped for a big offensive rebound and Hooper nailed her fifth three-pointer of the half to put NU back in front 35-34.
After Rachel Theriot, who finished with six points and four assists, and Deluzio traded layups, Nebraska got a gigantic three-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to head to the locker room with a 40-36 halftime edge.
NU shot 50 percent in the first half, including 16-of-32 field goals, 6-of-12 three-pointers and 2-of-4 free throws. The Huskers also outrebounded FSU, 18-15, and won the turnover battle, 9-8 in the first half.
Hooper led NU with 22 points and six rebounds in the half, while Cady and Theriot each added six points. Deluzio led FSU with 12 points, while Clayton contributed 10 points. FSU hit 15-of-28 first-half shots, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, while the 'Noles also hit 3-of-5 free throws.
Nebraska stretched its winning streak against Florida schools to 12 straight games, before heading to unbeaten South Florida on Sunday, Dec. 16. Tip-off between the Huskers and Bulls is set for 1 p.m.
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