NORFOLK, Va. — Nebraska forward Jordan Hooper’s left ankle wasn’t swollen in the minutes after NU’s 53-45 loss to Duke. But she limped in the locker room, having rolled it after making a jumper and landing on the foot of a Blue Devil.
“It’s hurts when people touch it,” said Hooper, who crashed to the floor in pain with 7:56 left in the second half. “I think that’s from hitting the floor.”
Hooper said she heard the ankle smack the ground, tried to get up, and knew she couldn’t walk. She missed the rest of the game.
“Jordan doesn’t feign injury,” coach Connie Yori said. “If she’s hurt, she’s hurt.”
Yori said she didn’t know the severity of the injury, but it’s the second left ankle sprain Hooper’s had in a week. She rolled the ankle in practice Wednesday.
“But it wasn’t as bad that time because it hadn’t been injured,” Hooper said. “And we healed it up and it felt really good this morning and really good in shootaround.”
Last year in the NCAA tournament, Hooper had a stress fracture in her right leg. She missed most of the summer with the injury.
Williams key on defense
Duke center Elizabeth Williams’ homecoming to the Virginia Beach-Norfolk area didn’t go as planned on offense. She missed 10 of 15 shots, many from just a foot away.
But the 6-foot-3 center’s seven blocks set the tone for the Blue Devils’ defense, and deterred the Huskers from attacking the paint and getting to the foul line.
“Early in the game, she got a couple blocks, and it kind of scared us,” Hooper said. “We shouldn’t have been, but we got scared away from the paint area because we knew that, if we went in there, she’d get a piece of it. But she’s a great athlete. She knew when to jump.”
And Williams wingspan was longer, Yori said, than perhaps any player NU had faced this year. Guard Lindsey Moore — normally a capable scorer around the rim — was stuffed in the first half by Williams with such force that Moore fell to the floor without being fouled.
“She covers more ground than you maybe think she can,” Yori said. “A couple of those blocks, she came from a long ways.”
Good scouting by Huskers
How did Nebraska’s defense hold one of the nation’s most explosive offenses 22 points below its season average?
For one, the Huskers watched TV.
The Blue Devils, Moore said, often called out their plays loud enough and clearly enough to see them on film. So when Duke called plays Sunday, Nebraska had a pretty good sense of what the Blue Devils were going to do.
“They always have a sign for whatever they’re running,” Moore said. “Picking that up was a huge part of why we were able to take away what they wanted to do.”
Hooper said Nebraska wanted to deny Williams — who came into the game averaging 15 points per game — easy looks while also keeping tabs on Duke’s two best 3-point shooters, Tricia Liston and Hayley Peters. Sunday, Duke shot 32.8 percent and missed 12 of 16 3-pointers.
“We fronted her and had a helper and stuff like that,” Hooper said of Williams, who finished with 11 points.
Duke’s playing without its starting point guard, Chelsea Gray, who dislocated her knee in mid-February. Blue Devil players said the shot selection Sunday wasn’t the best.
“We must learn to settle down and wait for the right shot, especially when some of our shots are not falling,” Duke guard Tricia Liston said.
NU eyes post players
Though the Huskers have three signed recruits for the 2013 class in forward Allie Havers and guards Hannah Tvrdy and Esther Ramacieri, they’ll look at adding more in the spring signing period.
Yori said NU will look for “fives,” or true post players. With the retirement of Adri Maurer earlier this year, the Huskers don’t have one. They lacked the same presence last year. Yori said Nebraska’s always on the prowl for point guards, too, but they appear to have one in Rachel Theriot, who played shooting guard this year.
Nebraska can offer 15 scholarships in women’s basketball.
— Sam McKewon