LINCOLN — Jordan Hooper tried to flush it, erase it, maybe even tell the thing to get behind her.
But prolific scorers like the junior forward don't easily forget a goose egg against a rival. So when Hooper was held scoreless in Nebraska's 66-57 loss to Creighton, she was “a little bit mad” going into Saturday's tilt against No. 24 Florida State. As mad as a queen of sheepish shrugs could be, anyway.
Hooper started her pregame shootaround hot. And she didn't cool off until she'd scored a career-high 36 points in a white-knuckle, 78-77 win over the Seminoles. She swept behind screens for 3-pointers, ran the floor for layups and muscled for putbacks. She hit six 3-pointers and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“When I walked in the gym, it was a different day, different feel,” Hooper said.
“She hit a step-back 3 on a guard and I was like, 'Oh, Hoop's back,' ” senior guard Lindsey Moore said.
“She got busy,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said.
So did offensive-minded FSU in this fast-paced game with 17 lead changes.
The Seminoles shot 53.6 percent, hit 70 percent of their 3-pointers and repeatedly gashed No. 25 Nebraska's perimeter defense. Guards Leonor Rodriguez (24 points) and Alexis Deluzio (19) seemingly had an answer for every Husker run. The duo scored seven straight points to turn a 71-66 deficit into a 73-71 FSU lead with 2:29 remaining.
Hooper answered with an offensive rebound and a layup, and she set crucial screens on NU's final two possessions, both of which ended with two points.
FSU (7-1) had a chance to win with 1.3 seconds left after officials whistled Husker forward Emily Cady for her fifth foul while Seminole forward Natasha Howard was attempting a putback shot.
“I was so sad,” said Cady, who had 15 points.
During the five minutes referees took to figure out who fouled Howard and how much time remained on the clock — coach Connie Yori had several animated chats with them — the 3,864 fans at the Devaney Center booed and screamed.
“I'm not sure I've heard the Devaney Center any louder than that when the kid was shooting the free throws,” Yori said.
Said Hooper: “Our crowd got in her head a little bit.”
A 69-percent free-throw shooter, Howard clanged the first one off the rim. She airballed the second by several inches. Nebraska (7-3) ran out the rest of the clock. The normally reserved Hooper pumped her first at midcourt, delivered hard high-fives to her teammates and left the floor waving to the crowd. Though Florida State threw some “junk defenses” at Hooper, Yori said, she moved better without the ball and fought for more position.
“Jordan sometimes guards herself,” Yori said. “Today she didn't guard herself. She moved and she found opportunities in different ways. Wednesday night, Creighton did a good job on her, but she guarded herself. She didn't want to move. She didn't want to post. So it was good tonight to see her get going.”
>> NOTES: Nebraska takes off eight days for finals week before playing at South Florida on Dec. 16. ... NU has won its past 12 games against teams from Florida, including two over Florida State in the past two years. ... The Huskers won the rebounding battle 38-31 with 15 offensive boards.
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