LINCOLN — With five players benched for substandard behavior, No. 18 Nebraska rode honorable mention All-American Jordan Hooper’s 32 points to a 68-38 exhibition win against the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Sunday at the Devaney Center.
Husker coach Connie Yori stopped short of giving details on why six players carried the entire load.
“We have high standards here at Nebraska,” Yori said. She said the standards included behavior on and off the court, as well as effort on the court.
Yori indicated that the discipline related to standards of the basketball program and did not involve violations of law or university policy.
Players who did not play were freshman Rachel Theriot and sophomores Tear’a Laudermill, Hailie Sample, Brandi Jeffery and Emily Cady. Another Husker on the 12-player roster — senior Meghin Williams — sat out with an injury.
With the ranks thinned, freshmen Sadie Murren and Courtney Aitken played the entire 40 minutes against the Lopers. Hooper played 32 minutes and was in the game at the end.
Senior guard Lindsey Moore scored 19 points and played 35 minutes.
With NU’s two big guns — Hooper and Moore — playing extensively, the challenge for Division II UNK grew.
Though Loper coach Kevin Chaney was disappointed with his team’s scoring difficulty — UNK shot 22 percent from the field — the 30-point defeat had some positives.
It was 14 points less than the 78-34 loss the Huskers handed Pittsburg State a week ago.
Pittsburg State was picked second in the preseason Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association coaches poll while UNK was last out of 15 teams.
“They think we’re 15th,” Chaney said. “We don’t think we are.”
The Lopers are playing in the MIAA for the first year after going 8-19 last year, their final season in the RMAC.
UNK’s harassing zone defense caused trouble for the Huskers early. Midway through the first half, NU had missed 11 of 13 shots and all six of its 3-pointers. Hooper had yet to score.
It wasn’t until the second half, after leading by nine at the break, that the Huskers blew things open. Hooper, who had six first-half points, hit four 3-pointers on her way to 26 in the second half.
Yori said the Lopers were “scrappy.” UNK outrebounded the Huskers 47-44, led by nine for Melissa Norman. Laramey Lewis led the Lopers with nine points.
Nebraska opens regular-season play at 7:05 p.m. Friday against North Carolina A&T at the Devaney Center. UNK will next travel to UNO for an exhibition game at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.