Hardy Hits for 26 Against No. 3 LSU

Kiera Hardy scored a game-high 26 points, including 18 in the first half to shoot the Nebraska women's basketball team to a 36-30 halftime lead over No. 3 LSU, but the Lady Tigers opened the second half with a 15-0 run on their way to 74-55 win over the Huskers at the Miami Thanksgiving Classic at the Ransom Everglades School on Friday afternoon.

Nebraska, which slipped to 1-2 on the season, controlled the tempo and the scoreboard throughout the first half, leading by as many as seven points in the opening stanza against the 3-0 Lady Tigers.

Kiera Hardy, a returning first-team All-Big 12 guard, carried Nebraska to the lead with a strong first half. The 5-6 guard from Kansas City, Mo., scored NU's final nine points of the first half over the last 3:30 to turn a 28-27 deficit into a 36-30 lead at the intermission.

For Hardy, it was the 16th 20-point effort of her career and first of the season. She finished the game by hitting 9-of-20 shots from the field, including 4-of-12 three-pointers against the Lady Tigers, who have advanced to the NCAA Women's Final Four in each of the past two years. Hardy added five steals on the day, just one off her career high, while pitching in two assists and two rebounds. The game also marked the sixth time in her career that Hardy scored 20 or more points against a ranked foe, including a career-high 37 against 2005 national champion Baylor on Jan. 12, 2005.

Nebraska also received solid first-half contributions from Chelsea Aubry with seven points and four rebounds, while Kelsey Griffin added five points and four rebounds in the first half.

Hardy's hot shooting and strong play from Nebraska's other starters allowed NU to hit 14-of-31 shots (45.2 percent) in the first half. The Huskers also outrebounded LSU 20-19 in the opening period and committed just nine turnovers, while forcing 10 miscues by the Lady Tigers in the opening half.

With 2005 National Player-of-the-Year Seimone Augustus on the bench with two fouls for more than 12 minutes during the first half, 6-6 sophomore center Sylvia Fowles kept LSU within striking distance by scoring 18 points and pulling down seven boards in the opening period.

Fowles, who finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, hit 8-of-9 field goals on the day, including all seven of her attempts in the first half.

With Augustus back on the floor to open the second half, LSU wasted little time in seizing control. Augustus sparked LSU's second-half run by scoring eight quick points in the first eight minutes. The 6-1 guard finished with a team-high 24 points, while adding five rebounds, five steals and four assists.

Augustus also got her teammates more involved, as RaShonta LeBlanc finished with a career-high 10 points, and Quianna Chaney added 11 points and six assists.

Augustus helped the Tigers shoot 68 percent (17-25) from the field in the second half while forcing 16 second-half turnovers by the Huskers. LSU's increased defensive pressure also limited the Huskers to just 30.4 percent shooting in the second half, as NU hit just 7-of-23 field goals after halftime.

For the game, LSU hit 55.6 percent (30-54) of its shots from the field, including 1-of-4 three-pointers. The Lady Tigers also outrebounded the Huskers 36-30. NU finished at 38.9 percent (21-54) from the field, including 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from three-point range. The Huskers did force 18 turnovers by the Lady Tigers.

Hardy was the only Husker to finish in double figures, while Griffin and Aubry each contributed seven points and five rebounds. Jessica Gerhart added six points and Elena Diaz pitched in four points. Danielle Page found the scoring column with three points and tied the team lead with five rebounds, while Ashley Ford added two points and two assists for the Huskers.

Nebraska will take Saturday off from competition to prepare for its final game of the three-team tournament against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday at 11 a.m. central time. The Islanders will face their third top-15 team of the season when they face LSU Saturday afternoon at the Ransom Everglades School.

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