LINCOLN — It was fitting Sunday that Lindsey Moore and Rachel Theriot sat side-by-side in the postgame press conference after Nebraska’s ninth straight win, a 66-46 smothering of Iowa.
The point guards — Moore the polished senior star, Theriot the shy, sheepish freshman heir apparent — had just finished methodically, yet entirely, breaking down the Hawkeyes.
Theriot played 33 minutes and scored a career and game-high 19 points. Moore played 39 minutes and had her usual buffet of a stat line — 10 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. They helped harass Iowa’s three starting guards into 11 turnovers and directed offensive traffic on a day when NU leading scorer Jordan Hooper missed 12 of 14 shots.
Both received a standing ovation from the season-high crowd of 7,374 at the Devaney Center when they left the game.
“It’s fun to play with another passing point,” Moore said. “I know if I cut, Rachel’s going to find me. We see a lot of the same things. We’re able to just feed off of that. Being out there both together, I think it opens up our passing lanes for each other.”
Said Theriot: “It’s a great experience to look up to Lindsey and watch her play and learn things from her game so I can build on mine. Patience. Just being calm with the ball. Just settling down and looking for the right thing.”
Sunday, the right thing was for Theriot to repeatedly nail open mid-range jumpers, keeping the Hawkeyes at bay until Nebraska (21-6, 11-3 Big Ten) broke the game open with a 19-4 run in the final eight minutes.
Though Nebraska’s defense and rebounding are the main storylines in the winning streak, Theriot’s development in league play — where she’s averaging eight points and 3.35 assists per game — is a key subplot. Two months ago, she missed many of the same shots in an overtime loss to Purdue. Against Iowa (17-11, 6-8) she hit 9 of 16.
“I didn’t know if there was ever going to be a day where she took 16 shots as a freshman,” coach Connie Yori said. “We always kind of have to beg her to shoot. Tonight she was aggressive.”
Especially in the second half — she scored 15 points. When Iowa cut a 29-20 halftime deficit to 41-38, Theriot scored nine of NU’s next 13 points. Her 3-pointer with 4:07 left gave the Huskers a 54-42 lead. Hawkeye coach Lisa Bluder called time out, but it didn’t help. Iowa scored four points the rest of the way.
The Hawkeyes have lost all five games to Nebraska since the Huskers entered the Big Ten.
“For Nebraska, it’s the Border War, but we have a lot of Border Wars,” Bluder said when asked if NU’s recent dominance in the series frustrated her. “So it’s not like maybe the intensity that Nebraska feels. And it’s not like we haven’t beaten Nebraska before. We have.”
True. Eight years ago.
The Huskers, meanwhile, kept alive a slim hope of sharing the Big Ten regular-season title. Penn State, two games ahead, clinched at least a half of it Sunday with a win against Michigan. The Nittany Lions travel to Minnesota Thursday. NU plays at Wisconsin one hour earlier that day.
Though the Huskers on Sunday clinched a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament, they had a preseason goal of winning the regular-season crown. They need Minnesota to pull an upset.
“We’re rooting for Nebraska first, OK?” Yori quipped when asked about rooting for the Golden Gophers. “And, yeah, maybe I’ll take a peek at that game.”
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