Jordan Hooper scored 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the No. 23 Nebraska women’s basketball team to a 71-63 comeback win at No. 16 Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center Friday night.
Hooper scored Nebraska’s last five points including a huge three-pointer with 16 seconds left to give the Huskers an insurmountable 69-63 lead. The 6-2 sophomore forward from Alliance, Neb., notched her third 30-point effort in the last four games and her third straight double-double to lead the Huskers to their first-ever Big Ten Conference victory. It was Hooper’s sixth double-double of the year and ninth of her career, and her fourth career 30-point performance.
Nebraska improved to 12-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Big Ten, while the preseason Big Ten favorites Penn State slipped to 10-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.
With the Huskers trailing 58-56 with 5:05 left, Hooper hit a big shot to tie the game and bring NU all the way back from a nine-point second-half deficit. After redshirt freshman Rebecca Woodberry hit her only basket of the night to give NU a 60-58 lead with 4:39 left, Hooper hit a pair of free throws to put NU back up 62-60 with 4:17 left.
Junior point guard Lindsey Moore, who finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, then scored four straight to give NU a 66-63 lead before Hooper sealed the win.
Nebraska finished the night at 43.1 percent (25-58) from the field, despite hitting just 36 percent of its shots (9-25) in the second half. The Huskers also hit 6-of-22 three-pointers, including 4-of-11 from Hooper. NU also hit 15-of-21 free throws, including six straight in the final five minutes. The Huskers won the rebounding battle, 53-46, including 10 rebounds from freshman Emily Cady, but lost the turnover battle, 26-14.
Alex Bentley, the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, led Penn State with 22 points and eight steals, while Maggie Lucas added 18 points and seven boards despite being bothered by leg cramps midway through the second half. Nikki Greene added nine points and a game-high 15 boards for PSU.
Penn State hit just 29.4 percent (25-85) of its shots from the field, including just 2-of-14 three-pointers. PSU was also 11-of-17 from the free throw line, as the Lady Lions suffered their first home loss of the season.
Nebraska fell behind by 11 points in the first five minutes, before the Huskers rallied to tie the score at 38 at the half. Hooper led the Huskers with 12 points, six rebounds and an assist in the first half. Hooper’s 7-0 run in a 30-second span, shot the Huskers to their first lead of the night at 30-27 with 4:30 left.
Junior forward Meghin Williams, who tied her career high with six first-half points, gave NU its biggest lead of the half at 35-31 with 2:32 left.
Moore added nine first-half points as seven different Huskers, including redshirt freshman forward Katie Simon, who scored two quick points to finish with four points on the night.
Nebraska won the first-half rebounding battle, 27-19, and converted nine offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points. PSU also crashed the boards hard with 11 offensive boards that the Lady Lions converted into 11 points.
Penn State also dominated the turnover battle, 16-7 in the first half, turning NU’s miscues into 19 points.
Nebraska hit 48.5 percent (16-33) of its first-half shots, including 4-of-14 three-pointers, while the Huskers hit both their free throws. PSU hit just 35.7 percent (15-42) from the field and just 1-of-7 from long range, but hit 7-of-10 free throws.
Lucas led PSU with 13 points, while Bentley added 12 in the first half.
Nebraska will have six days off from competition before making its Big Ten Conference home debut against Indiana on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7:05 p.m.