COLUMBUS, Ohio — For each game, Nebraska women’s basketball coach Connie Yori writes out a strategy card of plays she’d like to run against the opponent. Thursday night against Ohio State, Yori’s plays were designed to work against a man-to-man defense.
The Buckeyes almost exclusively played zone.
“I could have just cut my card up tonight,” Yori quipped on her postgame radio show.
Not that it mattered much in Nebraska’s 62-53 win in Columbus. Because Ohio State’s 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones also failed to do something else: Guard Husker Jordan Hooper.
NU’s leading scorer dropped 28 points on OSU, hitting five 3-pointers. While the Buckeyes tried hard to stop Nebraska senior guard Lindsey Moore’s penetration into the lane, Hooper stood lonely outside the 3-point line. Then she’d catch a pass. Then she’d nail a shot. Rinse and repeat.
“I kept running our plays and going where I usually go,” Hooper said on the Huskers’ postgame radio show, “and I guess they didn’t want to guard me tonight for some reason.”
Said Yori: “Our kids did a good job of finding Jordan and she’s doing a better job of moving without the ball against the zone.”
The junior from Alliance scored 10 points in a key 14-2 run at the end of the first half. NU (15-6 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten) led 34-24 at halftime. Ohio State (11-10 and 1-7) got within 42-36 at the 12:53 mark, but Moore hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pad the Huskers’ lead to 10. Then Hooper scored 12 of Nebraska next 14 points to keep the Buckeyes at bay.
Nebraska got a boost from freshman Rachel Theriot, a Cleveland native making her homecoming Thursday night. Theriot finished with nine points, six assists and five rebounds. Her defensive play down the stretch, Yori said, helped seal the win.
“Her awareness is very good,” Yori said. “She sees things happen.”
Moore scored 11 points, while sophomore Emily Cady scored 10.
Normally a stalwart in the Big Ten, OSU is tied for last in the league this year, so the Huskers expected to steal a game at Value City Arena. Afterward, Yori called the win “very big.” Indeed, it moved Nebraska from sixth in the conference to a five-way tie for third, just two games out of first place.
NU now tries to run its winning streak to four Sunday against Minnesota. The 2:05 p.m. game is NU’s Pepsi Pack The House promotion, featuring $1 general admission tickets.