LINCOLN — With All-American Jordan Hooper held to single-digit scoring, teammates Emily Cady and Rachel Theriot gave No. 15 Nebraska needed punch in a 62-48 win over Alabama Monday night at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“Jordan is not going to get 27 every night,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said, “so Emily and Rachel have to do more.”
Cady had 19 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 10 of 10 from the free throw line. Theriot, a 6-0 sophomore, was 7 for 14 from the field and hit both of her free throws for 17 points.
First-year Alabama coach Kristy Curry said attempts to shut down Hooper were predictably countered by other Husker players.
“She has a great supporting cast,” Curry said.
Even though Hooper had only eight points, compared with 28 in Nebraska’s opener against UCLA on Friday, she led all rebounders with 13. Curry said Hooper is “underappreciated” for other contributions she makes.
Cady, a junior from Seward, Neb., had her ninth career double-double, adding 11 rebounds to her 19 points.
The Huskers pushed the ball down the court against an athletic Alabama lineup, resulting in turnovers while at the same time giving Cady opportunities that resulted in free throws.
“Coach will send emails reminding us that we have to make 50 free throws before leaving practice,” she said. “Free throws are going to be really important.”
As a team, the Huskers were 20 for 24 Monday after going 18 for 23 against UCLA on Friday.
Nebraska ended with 19 turnovers to 15 for Alabama.
“It wasn’t super pretty,” Yori said, “but a 14-point win over an SEC team (isn’t bad).
“I believe Alabama is going to win some games this year in the SEC.”
A 15-point first half by Cady propelled the Huskers to a 29-24 halftime lead.
A combination of turnovers and cold shooting allowed the Crimson Tide to take a short-lived lead at 24-23 with 3:24 to go in the half. But two free throws by Theriot, two more by Cady and a timely steal and full-court drive by Cady gave NU the five-point halftime cushion.
Nebraska shot well early, making seven of its first 11 shots. But the Huskers could manage to hit only two of their next 14 shots.
Hooper hit only 1 of 6 in the first half, but she grabbed nine defensive rebounds in the first half as Nebraska built a 21-14 rebound advantage.
Nebraska gradually extended its lead in the second half, widening it to 18 at one point.
The Huskers scored 10 straight points midway in the second half on four free throws by Cady and baskets by Tear’a Laudermill, Theriot and Hannah Tvrdy to make it 49-33.
Hooper scored six of her eight points in the next minute and Nebraska had a 55-37 lead.
The attendance was 4,924, down from Friday afternoon’s total of 9,750.
The Huskers will play at Utah at 6:30 CST on Friday before returning to the Pinnacle Bank Arena Nov. 21 in 7 p.m. game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
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Video: Highlights from NU's win over Alabama