ANN ARBOR, Mich. — More history for Hooper. More momentum for the Huskers.
The Nebraska women's basketball team extended its winning streak to five Thursday night with a 76-68 win at Michigan, and forward Jordan Hooper moved to No. 2 on NU's all-time scoring list, passing Maurtice Ivy with a 3-pointer in the second half.
The senior from Alliance, Neb., pushed her career total to 2,134 points, leaving her trailing only Karen Jennings' total of 2,405.
And Hooper did it with one of her best games this year: 23 points and nine rebounds on just 10 shots and four free throws.
“Hoop had a great game,” coach Connie Yori said on her postgame radio show. “Look at her offensive efficiency ... that's a senior playing well.”
Nebraska (18-5 overall and 8-3 in the Big Ten) had one of its most efficient nights of offense this year to hold off the Wolverines (15-10 and 6-6). NU shot 59 percent from floor — including 54.5 percent from 3-point range — while nailing 18 of 21 free throws. It offset 14 Husker turnovers and a big game from Michigan junior forward Cyesha Goree, who finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Hooper guarded the 6-foot-3 Goree most of the night.
“Ugh,” Hooper said. “she's very, very physical.”
Goree scored six of Michigan's first 11 points and 12 in the first half as Michigan kept the game much closer than the 84-51 blowout win Nebraska enjoyed in Lincoln. Yori said Michigan made sure Nebraska couldn't grab rebounds and run the length of the court for layups as it did two weeks ago. So the Huskers had to operate their half-court offense against the Wolverines' man-to-man defense. NU did well, shooting 66.7 percent in the first half for a 37-34 halftime lead.
“If you want to be a good team, you have to be able to score in multiple ways,” Yori said. “You can score in transition, but you also have to be able to execute in this kind of situation. And we did a pretty good job.”
Hooper said she purposefully played “weenie ball” against Goree in the first half to avoid foul trouble. In the second half, she said, she got more physical and NU employed more double teams with forwards Emily Cady and Allie Havers. Nebraska held Goree scoreless for the first 12:28 of the second half. By then, the Huskers had pushed their lead to 11. Michigan never got closer than six points down the stretch.
“We knew they were going to go inside,” Yori said. “The last two days, we worked a lot on what we wanted to do in the post. It may not have looked like that, but she probably would have had about 40 if we hadn't done that.”
All five Nebraska starters scored in double figures. Cady, from Seward, Neb., finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward Hailie Sample had as an efficient a night as Hooper. She made all four shots and all four free throws to finish with 12 points. The Wolverines were led by Goree and Nicole Elmblad, who scored 14 points.
As Michigan's faint hopes at an NCAA tournament berth grew dimmer, the Huskers' Big Ten title hopes remain alive, although they're still 1Ĺ games behind Penn State, which beat Indiana 71-63 Thursday night. The Hoosiers visit Pinnacle Bank Arena Sunday for a noon tipoff.
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Video: Highlights from Nebraska-Michigan