LINCOLN — Nebraska, stung by two straight losses, made a shambles of Michigan's conference-leading defenders and conference-leading rebounders Wednesday with an 84-51 victory before a crowd of 6,297 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
It was brutal treatment for a Wolverine team that had won all six of its previous true road games and was tied for second in Big Ten standings with a 5-2 league record and 14-6 overall.
“We all had this determination to get out of this slump,” said Husker All-American Jordan Hooper, who returned to form with 25 points and 10 rebounds after losses to Purdue and Northwestern.
Hooper shot 76.9 percent from the field and 76.6 percent on 3-pointers, easily blitzing her conference percentages of 30.8 percent shooting and 25.6 percent on 3-pointers.
But Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico attributed the shellacking to the performances of Nebraska's supporting cast, making it difficult for the Wolverines to concentrate on stopping Hooper.
“We tried to take Hooper out of it the first couple of minutes of the game, and Rachel (Theriot) came down and banged two 3-pointers,” Arico said. “They had multiple players who can score.”
Theriot, the Husker sophomore point guard, registered 11 of Nebraska's 27 assists. They included lob passes to Emily Cady under the basket for easy layups and a picture-perfect backdoor pass to Hooper to give NU an 18-point halftime margin. She also rifled cross-court passes to Tear'a Laudermill for 3-pointers.
“We really passed the ball well tonight,” Husker coach Connie Yori said.
The teamwork and intensity of the Huskers on offense shot holes in Michigan's normally stingy defense. The 84-point total was 26 more than the Wolverines' defensive average in seven league games.
For the second straight game, Laudermill scored 18 points. She hit Nebraska's first two shots of the second half, both 3-pointers. She lauded her teammates for finding her open for the shots.
“We are a very unselfish team,” she said.
Nebraska's rebounding margin (38-28) was the reverse of Michigan's league-leading margin of 9.5 per game.
Besides Hooper's 10 rebounds, 6-5 freshman Allie Havers came off the bench to snag eight. Cady had seven.
Arico also attributed Nebraska's intensity to the atmosphere at Pinnacle Bank Arena, where the Huskers honored former NU all-American Kelsey Griffin in a pregame ceremony to retire her jersey.
Yori said Griffin inspired the team by her example and by speaking to the group leading up to the game.
“It was a special night for a lot of reasons,” Yori said.
Nebraska surged into a double-digit lead midway through the first half and then built from there.
Two 3-pointers and a pair of free throws by Hooper created a 13-point margin with 4:11 left in the first half. But it was Laudermill's two 3s to start the second half, as well as an old-fashioned three-point play by Hooper that ran the lead to 53-31.
In the end, Nebraska shot 53.3 percent from the field to 36.4 percent for Michigan.
The Huskers, now 14-5 and 4-3 in league play, will play at Iowa at 2 p.m. Saturday in a game that will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.