Women Snag First Conference Tourney Title
No.16 Huskers Battle Way to First Big Ten Title
BigRed Claim First Conference Tournament Title in Program History
Indianapolis - No. 16 Nebraska captured the firstconference tournament title in school history, outworking No. 23 Iowa on theboards in a 72-65 victory in the Big Ten Women's Basketball TournamentChampionship Game on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nebraska,which improved to 25-6 overall with a 3-0 performance at the tournament as theNo. 3 seed, won the battle of the boards with the leg-weary Hawkeyes, 58-27,including 26 offensive rebounds. Iowa, which moved to 26-8 on the season,finished 3-1 in the tournament after entering as the No. 5 seed.
Nebraskaput up 20 second-chance points and went 30-for-36 at the free throw to overcome31.3 percent (20-64) shooting, including a 2-for-17 effort from three-pointrange.
SophomoreRachel Theriot was the only gun firing from the field for the Big Red, scoringa game-high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, including 1-of-3threes. Theriot scored 19 points after halftime, while adding four assists forthe game. The 6-0 point guard from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, averaged 18.0points and 10.0 assists in three tournament games to earn MVP honors.
JordanHooper added her 13th double-double of the season and 39th of her career with18 points and 10 boards, despite going just 3-for-16 from the field and 0-for-3from long range. The 6-2 senior forward from Alliance, Neb., tied her careerhigh with 12 free throws on 12-of-14 shooting. She joined Theriot as Nebraska'srepresentatives on the all-tournament team.
JuniorHailie Sample added her second career double-double with 11 points and acareer-high 15 rebounds. The 6-0 forward from Flower Mound, Texas, led theHuskers on the glass and produced numerous hustle plays to give NU a chance towin. Sample's only other career double-double came in last year's NCAAsecond-round win at No. 9 Texas A&M to send the Big Red to the second Sweet16 in school history.
Fellowjunior forward Emily Cady just missed a double-double with eight pointsand 11 assists, while junior guard Tear'a Laudermill pitched in 11 points, fourrebounds and two assists.
AlthoughHooper, Laudermill and Cady combined for 37 points, they went just 8-for-48from the field.
"Wejust couldn't hit a shot," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said, "but youlook at those rebounding numbers, and oh my gosh, our kids showed that theyreally wanted to win this game."
Thejuniors and Hooper played in a game for a Big Ten title for the fourth time inthe last three years and finally came away with their first victory.
Iowaoutshot Nebraska in the game, hitting 37.7 percent (23-61), including 8-of-25threes, while going 11-for-14 from the line. The Hawkeyes also won the turnoverbattle, 16-11. Freshman Ally Disterhoft led Iowa with 20 points, while juniorpoint guard Samantha Logic managed 14 points, six assists and six rebounds.
MelissaDixon was the only other Hawkeye in double figures with 11 points, as Nebraskaimproved to 8-0 against Iowa as Big Ten foes, including 3-0 in Big TenTournament play.
Nebraskawas the aggressor in the first half, taking a 34-26 after carrying a 14-pointlead after a 16-0 run made it 18-4 with 11:03 left. From that point, theHuskers hit just four field goals in the final 11 minutes, as Iowa was able tokeep the lead at single digits to end the first.
AlthoughNU only had four field goals in the final 11 minutes, the Huskers got ninepoints at the free throw line during the stretch. The Big Red went 13-for-18 atthe line in the half, after forcing 13 fouls on the Hawkeyes. Nebraska won thefirst-half rebounding battle, 30-15, including 14-5 on the offensive glass. NUalso won the first-half turnover battle, 8-7.
Iowaoutshot the Huskers from the floor, but hit just 32.3 percent (10-31), whileNebraska went 10-for-32 (.313). Iowa hit four threes (4-15) to stay withinstriking distance, while NU wen just 1-for-5. While Iowa outscored the Huskersby nine from outside the arc, the Huskers outscored the Hawkeyes 13-2 at theline.
TheiarraTaylor and Dixon each went to the bench midway through the first half withthree fouls for the Hawkeyes, while Bethany Doolittle and reserves Claire Tilland Kali Peschel were all whistled for two fouls.
Hooperled all first-half scorers with 13 points, while adding four rebounds.Laudermill added nine points, but the two Huskers combined to go just 5-for-17from the floor, but 11-for-12 at the line, including a 9-for-10 effort fromHooper.
Sampleled Nebraska's board work in the first half with eight rebounds to go along withher five points. Theriot contributed five points and four assists.
Disterhoftkept the Hawkeyes within striking distance with 10 first-half points, while noother Hawkeye had more than five points.
TheHuskers rebuilt the lead to 13 points as Theriot scored nine straight pointsfor the Big Red to open the second half. But after pushing the lead to 41-28,Iowa began chipping away.
TheHawkeyes cut the margin to just one at 57-56 after three Disterhoft free throwswith 7:13 left, but Laudermill was fouled with 4:43 left. She hit thefirst free throw, before Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder was assessed a technical foul.Theriot hit two free throws, before Laudermill hit the second of her two topush the NU margin back to 61-56. Iowa got no closer than three the rest of theway as Nebraska made plays and free throws down the stretch.
The NCAASelection is set for Monday, March 17 at 6 p.m. (CT) with live nationaltelevision coverage of the announcement by ESPN.
Courtesy UNL Sports Information