COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As Chattanooga splashed home 10 3-pointers in Nebraska’s first-round NCAA tournament game, the temptation was surely there for NU to try to match those buckets. It’s a bait the Huskers took in last year’s 57-49 NCAA tournament loss to Kansas, when they missed 18 of 19 3-point attempts.
Not Saturday. Nebraska stuck to its game plan, attacking the Lady Mocs’ frontcourt with drives into the lanes and lobs over their post players. It helped NU build an 18-1 advantage at the foul line.
“If they weren’t going to front our post players, then we have quick post players who can get by them,” senior guard Lindsey Moore said. “We were trying to read how they were playing us. We have all the confidence in our posts. We wanted to take advantage with that and not go away from it even though they were hitting 3s from the outside.”
NU coach Connie Yori said she stressed attacking the Lady Mocs.
“Our kids are more patient this year,” she said. “I really felt like our players were trying to do the things offensively that we worked on and we talked about. We had 32 points in the paint. For us, that’s really good. We didn’t settle for 3s ... we got things going to the basket off the dribble.”
Cady performs efficiently
Of the four Huskers who scored in double digits — junior forward Jordan Hooper had 21 points, Moore scored 13, freshman guard Rachel Theriot had 12 — sophomore Emily Cady’s 10 points, on 4-of-10 shooting, perhaps looked the least efficient.
But Cady perhaps had the game’s best overall performance, adding nine rebounds, two assists and a block. She helped limit Chattanooga’s big frontcourt to 18 points in the paint. She also had only one turnover in the post, where she was often surrounded.
“Typical Emily Cady,” Yori said. “She does everything. She fills the stat line. She’s a competitor.”
NU uses different approach
Though it was two weeks ago, Nebraska’s Big Ten tournament loss to Purdue played a role in how the Huskers tried to defend Chattanooga for the first 30 minutes of the game. At the Big Ten tourney, the Boilermakers pounded the ball inside to forwards Sam Ostarello and Taylor Manuel, often getting easy jumpers and layups.
“(Purdue) hurt us in the Big Ten tournament — hence the fact that we played a lot of zone tonight,” Yori said. “We said after the Big Ten tournament, ‘Well, we can’t get beat that way. So we’ve got to figure something else out.’”
The zone did prevent Dewart and Dupree from touching the ball much. But it left Chattanooga’s various 3-point shooters open. Though NU locked down on UTC’s best bomber — Kayla Christopher made just 2 of 10 from beyond the arc — Alex Black and Taylor Hall made 7 of 10 against the Huskers. They entered the game as 31- and 27-percent 3-point shooters.
“They have some kids that made more shots than they normally do, so you have to give them credit,” Yori said. “That’s when we went to change the defense.”
In the final 10 minutes against NU’s man-to-man, the Lady Mocs missed four of their five 3-point attempts.
“They turned the pressure up, and it was hard for us to get looks,” Christopher said. “They definitely got to us.”
Texas A&M to face NU
Texas A&M’s 71-45 win over Wichita State wasn’t always pretty, but it did come with an added bonus: The Aggies’ best player barely broke a sweat. Junior 6-foot-4 center Kelsey Bone — an All-SEC player who normally averages 17 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game — played only seven first-half minutes and didn’t take a shot. The Aggies still led 35-22 at the break.
Bone, the nation’s No. 2 overall recruit in 2009, finished with 10 points — and four fouls.
“We did fine without her,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said.
Bone will be NU’s toughest matchup Monday — arguably the best post player the Huskers have faced since Danielle Adams, the A&M forward who scored 23 points against Nebraska in 2011, when the Huskers lost their last Big 12 regular-season game 84-49 in College Station.
— Sam McKewon