Jordan Hooper scored 16 of her team-high 20 points in the second half to lead the Nebraska women's basketball team back from a 16-point second-half deficit, but the Huskers fell 64-58 at Minnesota on Monday night.
No. 16 Nebraska suffered its second straight loss to fall to 8-4 in the Big Ten and 19-5 overall, while Minnesota improved to 13-14 overall and 5-8 in the conference.
Hooper, a 6-2 sophomore from Alliance, Neb., hit 4-of-7 three-pointers in the second half and grabbed six rebounds for the game. She also notched four steals and a block to lead NU's defensive efforts.
Junior point guard Lindsey Moore added 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals, while freshman Hailie Sample contributed eight points. Fellow freshman Brandi Jeffery added six points on a pair of threes, while adding three assists and three steals in a strong effort off the bench for the Huskers. Senior guard Kaitlyn Burke also contributed six points, including NU's first points of each half and the game-tying layup with just over three minutes left in the game.
Freshman guard Rachel Banham led Minnesota with a game-high 21 points, while senior guard Kiara Buford added 16 points for the Gophers, who notched their second win over a ranked Big Ten team at home this season, joining an 11-point win in late-January over Ohio State. Brianna Mastey added nine points and 11 rebounds, while Kionna Kellogg contributed six points and 11 boards of her own.
For the game, Minnesota outrebounded Nebraska, 42-31, including several key offensive rebounds down the stretch. With the score tied at 58 after Burke's game-tying layup from the left side with 3:17 left, NU forced a turnover.
The Huskers were unable to cash in on a Moore layup attempt, but got a defensive stop. Hooper then missed an open 12-foot look, that was rebounded by Emily Cady to give Burke an open look from 10 feet on the opposite side. However the Huskers were unable to capitalize on the offensive board.
After another defensive stop, Hooper missed a three that was rebounded by Jeffery at the free throw line. She was fouled on the play and went to the line for a one-and-one opportunity with 1:19 left.
She was unable to connect on the first, as the Huskers were again unable to take advantage of a second chance. NU was just 4-of-8 at the line for the game.
At the other end, Banham missed a jumper, but Kellogg pulled down the offensive board and scored to give Minnesota the lead at 60-58 with one minute left.
The Huskers missed a jumper at the other end, and after Mastey missed a baseline jumper for Minnesota with 19 seconds left, she got her own rebound and kicked out, where Banham was eventually fouled with 15 seconds left. She hit both free throws to put Minnesota up 62-58, as the Gophers again capitalized on the second chance. Minnesota went 13-of-19 at the line for the game.
"You've got to rebound at crunch time," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "They got a couple of huge offensive rebounds late in the game that they converted into points and they won the game because of it. It's not a defensive stop until you get the rebound. We didn't do that late and it cost us.
"I commend our team's effort though. There are a lot of teams that get down 16 points after a 20-0 run and they just go away. Not us. We just came right back, and in a lot of ways it took that run for us to get aggressive. I thought we played the first 25 minutes too passively, and I think that showed up at the free throw line. We're a young team and we're not very consistent. Minnesota made the plays late they needed to win the game."
Minnesota came out of the halftime locker room and took control with a 13-0 run that took just 3:01 to turn a 27-24 lead into a 40-24 edge with 16:59 left. The Golden Gopher scoring explosion to start the half capped a 20-0 run that took just 4:51 dating back to the late stages of the first half.
In a back-and-forth game, that control was short-lived, as Nebraska exploded on a 17-4 surge over the next five minutes to cut
Minnesota's lead back to just three at 44-41 with 11:35 left. Hooper and Moore combined for 13 straight points during the surge for NU, including three straight threes.
Minnesota recovered to rebuild its lead to 58-51 with 6:20, before the Huskers responded with seven straight points that included by five straight from Hooper and a game-tying layup from Burke with 3:17 left.
Nebraska hit 38.3 percent (23-60) of its shots for the game, including 34.8 percent (8-23) of its three-pointers. The Huskers also won the turnover battle, 19-15, outscoring Minnesota, 27-18 off the turnovers.
Minnesota hit 43.4 percent of its attempts (23-53), including 5-of-7 threes, with Banham and Buford going a combined 5-for-5.
Minnesota took a 27-24 lead to the locker room at halftime, although the Huskers led for most of the first half. Nebraska took its biggest lead of the half at 11-3 after Sample capped a 9-0 NU run with a layup following a Jeffery steal an assist with 15:28 left in the half.
The Golden Gophers battled back to take a 16-15 lead on a Banham basket with just over nine minutes left. NU responded to regain a 24-20 lead on a Moore three-pointer with 2:12 left. But Minnesota responded with a 7-0 run to close the half, including five straight
points by Banham to end the first period.
Nebraska hit just 34.5 percent (10-29) of its shots from the field in the first half, including just 2-of-10 three-pointers. NU also went just 2-for-2 at the free throw line. The Huskers won the turnover battle, 10-9 in the first, half, but were outrebounded 17-16, despite pulling down six offensive boards compared to just four for Minnesota.
Sample led the Huskers with six first-half points, while Moore added five shots and Hooper four for NU. Seven different Huskers found the scoring column in the first half.
Minnesota connected on 36.4 percent (8-22) of its first-half shots, including 2-of-3 three-pointers. The Golden Gophers were also 9-of-10 at the free throw line. Buford led Minnesota with nine first-half points, while Banham and Mastey each added seven first-half points.
The Huskers return home to open a two-game Big Ten home stand on Thursday night when they take on Northwestern. Tip-off between the Huskers and Wildcats is set for 7:05 p.m.. Thursday's game will feature Pepsi Pack the House with $1 general admission tickets available right now at Huskers.com. Fans can also enjoy 24-ounce Pepsi fountain products for just $1, or Pepsi souvenir cups for just $2 on the night of the game