Hooper scores 29 on Senior Night as Huskers squeak by Illinois

USA TODAY Sports

First Half

The Huskers got off to a pretty slow start missing some open looks, committing a couple turnovers and were trailing 15-11 going into the first timeout.  However, after a steal Brandi Jeffrey and a couple big baskets by Jordan Hooper put Nebraska up 19-17.  Neither team seemed to have a lot of momentum at this point.  Nebraska was missing passes and shots right under the rim while nothing seemed to be falling for Illinois.

However things started to open up for the Huskers when shots started falling from beyond the arc.  They finished the half 6-17 and went in with a 38-31 lead at the break.  Jordan Hooper led the way with 13 points and four rebounds for the Huskers while Emily Cady chalked up eight points and six rebounds.  The Illini did well from beyond the arc shooting 5-12 from beyond the arc and 14-34 overall (both better percentages than the Huskers) but were still behind in the game.  Taylor Gleason led Illini scoring with 10 points in the half.

Second Half

Illinois got out to a fantastic start in the second half opening with a 9-2 run, including five points from Amber Moore before head coach Connie Yori called a timeout to try settling the team down.  It seems to work as the set play coming out of the timeout with a quick to Jordan Hooper who drained a wide open look for three points.  The Huskers went on a 10-0 run with Hooper scoring all of those points.  She was a woman on a mission.

Illinois took a timeout and tried to scrap their way back into this game but the Huskers opened this up again after their timeout with good work inside the paint from Havers and Cady as well as a three from Laudermill to go up 57-46 with under eight minutes to go.  The Illini were still able to hang around hitting three big shots from beyond the arc in a four minute span to cut the lad 64-59 with 3:48 to go.  Illinois continued to hang and had a few chances to tie the game but miss six crucial free throws in a row down the stretch.

It turned into a foul fest near the end of the game and the Huskers were able to make their shots and finished the game 14-17 (82.4%) from the charity stripe.  Jordan Hooper was substituted out of the game with 4.2 seconds left and she received a loud cheer from the game as she hugged Connie Yori as the clock wound down.  The Huskers held on for 72-65 victory.

Post-Game Notes

The two things that separated Nebraska from Illinois in this game were foul shots made and second-chance points.  The Huskers only missed three foul shots (14-17) and the Illini only made three foul shots (3-10).  Nebraska also had 14 second-chance points compared to just three for Illinois.

Jordan Hooper led the way with 29 points and nine rebounds for the Huskers while Emily Cady collected her 12th double-double of the season with ten points and twelve rebounds in the game.  Rachel Theriot led the team with ten assists to go along with her eight points.

On the other side of the ball, Amber Moore led the Illini scoring with 19 points with 14 of them coming in the second half.  Junior guard Ivory Crawford had 13 points and 10 rebounds while freshman guard Taylor Gleason had an impressive game with 13 points and six assists.

Press conference tidbits:

Emily Cady on Jordan Hooper

We all really wanted to go out and play for her.

Tear'a Laudermill talking about Jordan Hooper

I've never met a person so good and so humble.

Jordan Hooper on what is was like to play for Nebraska

It's help me grow as a person and a player.

Nebraska coach Connie Yori about the game and Jordan Hooper

This game went about how I thought it would go.  We did just enough to win.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

Jordan did tonight what's she done for the past four years.

The Huskers wrap up the season against #19 Purdue on Sunday at 1:00 p.m in West Lafayette.  The game will be televised on ESPN2.

GO BIG RED!!!

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