Huskers' Team Effort Burns Ragin' Cajuns, 81-70

Jessica Gerhart's 16 points led five Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska posted an 81-70 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in front of a crowd of 2,415 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Monday evening.

"It was best win of the year because I think we are the best team we have beaten this season," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "Louisiana-Lafayette is going to win a lot of basketball games this year. They have a very good team, including one of the best players (Anna Petrakova) that we will face all year."


Jessica Gerhart scored half of her 16 points in the first 2:25 of the contest, asNebraska (7-4) led from start to finish while topping the 80-point mark for the third time this season – equaling their entire total of 80-point games during the entire 2003-04 season.


While Gerhart provided Nebraska with an early spark, a balanced Husker squad paced the team to an 11-point win two days after placing one player in double figures in a 58-57 loss at Creighton. Kiera Hardy, who led the Big 12 in scoring at 18.1 points per game, finished with 15 points while adding five rebounds and four assists. Chelsea Aubry chipped in 11 points, while NU also got major production from Jina Johansen and Jelena Spiric, who both finished with 10 points.


 Spiric was 4-of-6 shooting from the field while adding four rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes off the bench to reach double figures for the first time in her career.


Johansen, who entered the contest averaging 4.8 points per game, was 4-for-7 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, to match her season high set against Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 1. She also tied Gerhart for team-high honors with seven rebounds and added six assists while committing one turnover in 39 minutes of action.


The Huskers took control early on, as Hardy single-handedly sparked a 10-2 Husker run. NU turned a 15-13 lead into a 25-15 cushion with 9:20 remaining in the first half after a turnaround jumper by Elena Diaz, who nearly gave NU a sixth player in double figures as she finished with eight points.  Hardy, the 5-foot-6 guard, scored eight straight Husker points in the spurt, highlighted by an acrobatic 3-pointer from the wing to beat the shot chock buzzer.


UL-Lafayette, which came into tonight's contest with an 8-2 record with their only losses coming to No. 2 Stanford and Arkansas, quickly cut the lead to 25-20, before Nebraska delivered the knockout blow, a 10-0 run to take a 35-20 lead after a Johansen jumper with 4:15 remaining in the first half.


The Huskers, who improved to 6-0 at the Devaney Center, were opportunistic all evening, turning 10 ULL turnovers into 11 points in posting a 42-28 halftime margin.


Behind the inside game of Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Anna Petrakova, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 15 rebounds, the Ragin' Cajuns (8-3) whittled Nebraska's lead to 56-49 after a Tiffany Washington basket with 9:39 remaining.


The Huskers, who posted a 61-59 win in last season's win in Lincoln, then iced the contest, as Johansen's three-pointer triggered an 11-0 run, as NU built a 67-49 lead with 7:16 remaining and led by double figures the rest of the way.


The Huskers will close out the year on Dec. 30, when they take on Memphis beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the Devaney Center. The game will be carried on the Pinnacle Sports Network and video streamed live on HuskersNside.


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