LINCOLN — Although Connie Yori’s team was playing in its home arena, Sunday’s exhibition opener had a different feel for the Nebraska women’s basketball coach.
“All daylong, I felt like this was a road game,” Yori said. “Every detail through the day is not quite set yet. It’s a little unusual to try and figure out where everything is.
“But it’s really cool to finally have an opportunity to play here.”
“Here” is the new Pinnacle Bank Arena. And Yori’s Huskers looked comfortable in their new home.
They shot 49 percent from the field, had six players in double figures and cruised to a 98-47 exhibition win against Division II Pittsburg State in the first game played at the downtown arena.
The Huskers went on runs of 15-0 and 16-0 during in the first 16 minutes and led 53-18 at halftime. Nebraska finished with 25 assists on its 35 field goals.
“I thought our shot selection overall was really good,” Yori said. “We took shots within what we’re trying to do.”
Senior forward Jordan Hooper liked the Huskers’ ball movement.
“For the most part,” she said, “I thought we did what we wanted to do.”
Hooper led the Huskers with 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 19 minutes. The two-time All-American from Alliance, Neb., scored 13 of her points during the three-minute 16-0 run that put the Huskers up 41-9 with 4:35 left in the half.
Hooper missed 5 of her first 6 attempts, but she was 5 of 5 during the run. That included three 3-pointers.
“They play team ball. They pass the ball very, very well,” said Pittsburg State coach Lane Lord, whose team was picked to finish fifth in the MIAA this season. “And they have a go-to player in Hooper who makes everyone else better.”
Hooper had plenty of help Sunday.
Hailie Sample had 15 points and six rebounds, while freshmen Hannah Tvrdy and Allie Havers each scored 14. Emily Cady added 11 points and a team-best 10 rebounds.
In their Husker debuts, Tvrdy and Havers combined to go 10 of 15 from the field. Havers, a 6-foot-5 center from Michigan, showed her versatility by hitting a 3-pointer in the second half.
Yori knew both freshmen would have first-game jitters, but she liked the way both played.
“Hannah played a really good floor game,” the coach said, “and Allie did some things that were pretty impressive.”
Tvrdy was in the starting lineup Sunday, filling in for sophomore Rachel Theriot. Theriot, who started 28 times at guard last season, sat out Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle. Yori said Theriot has dealt with the injury for about a week.
Even without Theriot, the Huskers committed only 11 turnovers. Guards Brandi Jeffery and Tear’a Laudermill were efficient as they combined for 13 assists and no turnovers.
“We did a lot of good things,” Yori said. “Our guard play was probably better than what we’d showed in practice to this point. I liked what we did in terms of taking care of the ball.
“Overall, I thought it was a really good start.”
Pittsburg State, meanwhile, was held to 24.6 percent shooting. The Gorillas missed their first 15 3-pointers and were 2 of 23 for the game.
“We’ll never be that bad again, I hope,” Lord said. “Their length is really what we struggled with.”
The Huskers will play their final exhibition game next Sunday against the University of Nebraska at Kearney. That game will tip at 2 p.m.
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Video: Nebraska-Pittsburg State women's basketball highlights: