No. 15 Nebraska jumped to a 16-7 lead, but the hosts from No. 18 North Carolina used a 23-4 surge late in the first half to claim a 75-62 win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Carmichael Arena on Wednesday night.
The Huskers fell to 6-2 with their second straight loss, while the Tar Heels improved to 7-2 on the season.
Jordan Hooper, who led the Huskers with 18 points, shot Nebraska to the early lead by burying three three-pointers in the game’s first five minutes. Brandi Jeffery added an early three and so did Tear’a Laudermill, as Nebraska maintained a 21-13 edge with 11:29 left in the first half.
Xylina McDaniel, who pumped in 17 first-half points on 7-of-7 shooting, then fueled North Carolina’s comeback. She helped UNC cut Nebraska’s lead 23-20, before Stephanie Mavunga scored and forced the second foul on Hooper with 8:28 left in the half.
With Hooper out, the Tar Heels scored eight consecutive points before Hailie Sample stopped the run to cut the edge to 30-25 with 4:40 left in the half. UNC kept surging, running off six more points to push the Tar Heel lead to dougle digits for the first time at 36-25 after back-to-back baskets by Jessica Washington.
Hooper re-entered with 2:07 left and promptly hit her fourth three of the half with 1:47 left to get the margin back to eight points. McDaniel scored UNC’s final four points of the half, before Sample scored NU’s last two points with 47 seconds left to make it 40-30 UNC.
Hooper scored four of NU’s first six points early in the second half to help the Huskers trim UNC’s margin to six points, but Nebraska could get no closer.
McDaniel led all scorers with 25 points, finishing 11-for-15 from the field, while adding eight rebounds. Allisha Gray added 14 points and Diamond DeShields pitched in 11 points off the bench. Stephanie Mavunga also helped UNC inside with eight points and 11 rebounds.
North Carolina won the battle of the boards, 40-33, including 13 offensive rebounds. UNC outscored the Huskers, 12-4 in second-chance points.
Hooper led four Huskers in double figures with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Rachel Theriot added 12 points and five assists. Tear’a Laudermill added 11 points, while Hailie Sample pitched in 10 points and four boards.
Nebraska hit just 39.3 percent of its shots from the field, including 6-of-21 three-pointers. NU hit 4-of-5 threes to open the game, but went 2-of-16 the rest of the contest. NU was a perfect 12-for-12 at the free throw line, but committed 21 turnovers.
North Carolina hit 48.5 percent (32-66) from the field, including 6-of-20 from long range. UNC hit just 5-of-11 free throws, but committed just 15 turnovers.
Nebraska returns home to open a five-game home stand at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday, when the Huskers take on Utah State. Tip-off between the Huskers and 5-1 Aggies is set for 2 p.m.