Griffin's 31 Powers Huskers Past Islanders

A Fab Freshman performance surfaces for the Huskers as Kelsey Griffin scores huge in victory over the Islanders.

Coconut Grove, Fla.Kelsey Griffin produced the second-best point total by a freshman in school history with a career-high 31 points, while adding her first career double-double with a career-best 14 rebounds to power Nebraska to a 76-64 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the final game of the Miami Thanksgiving Classic at Ransom Everglades Student Activities Center on Sunday.


Griffin's effort, which was arguably the best all-around performance by a Nebraska freshman in history, helped the Huskers bolt to an 18-point halftime lead and hold off a scrappy second-half surge by TAMUCC. Nebraska improved to 2-2 on the season while dropping the Islanders, who return four starters from a squad that finished 23-7 last year,  to 0-4 on the year. TAMUCC lost its first three games this season at the hands of top-20 foes, including a loss to No. 3 LSU in the tournament's second game.


Nebraska's 6-2 freshman forward from Eagle River, Alaska, scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the first half alone to lead NU to a 41-23 halftime lead. Her 31 points on the day fell just shy of the NU freshman record set by Debra Powell with 34 points against Notre Dame on Feb. 25, 1982. Griffin joins Powell as the only two freshmen in school history to score 30 or more points in a single game.


The 2005 Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year at Chugiak High School, Griffin finished the day 9-of-18 from the field and 13-of-18 from the free throw line. Her 18 free throw attempts set the freshman record and tied the school record held by Margaret Richards against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 29, 2003, and Nicole Kubik against Kansas on Jan. 16, 1999. Griffin's 13 made free throws tied for the eighth-best total in the NU record book.


Griffin's 14 rebounds also marked one of the highest rebounding marks by a freshman in school history. She led the Huskers with six offensive boards on the afternoon to help the Huskers to a season-high 18 offensive rebounds against the Islanders. Nebraska finished the day with a plus-10 rebounding margin (43-33) against TAMUCC.


Junior guard Kiera Hardy added a solid all-around performance for the Huskers as well, finishing the game with 19 points, five assists and two steals. Hardy was also flawless with the ball, going without a turnover for the second time in the last three games. Hardy was 7-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-6 from three-point range.


Hardy, who opened the tournament with 26 points against No. 3 LSU on Friday, established a new Miami Thanksgiving Classic scoring record with 45 points in two tournament games to claim a spot on the all-tournament team. Hardy, who also earned all-tournament accolades last year at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands over the Thanksgiving holiday, was joined on the all-tournament team by Griffin, who finished the tournament with 38 points and 19 rebounds in two contests.


The Huskers' dynamic duo was joined by MVP Seimone Augustus of LSU, the 2005 National Player of the Year, and her teammates Sylvia Fowles and Quianna Chaney. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Nicole Duncan, who scored a career-high 21 points against the Huskers, rounded out the all-tournament squad.


Junior Jessica Gerhart added a third player for the Huskers in double figures against the Islanders with 12 points and five rebounds. The 6-2 forward from Fenton, Iowa, helped the Huskers shoot out of the gate on Sunday by hitting her first three shots from the field to give NU an early 6-4 lead. Gerhart added two more jumpers, including a shot from the baseline as time expired in the first half to finish the opening stanza with 10 points.


Hardy, added 10 points of her own in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers to go along with three assists. Griffin, Hardy and Gerhart combined for 36 of NU's 41 points in the opening period.


The Huskers dominated in all areas in the first half, including outreboudning TAMUCC 23-14, while forcing 18 first-half turnovers by the Islanders.


 Nebraska hit 43.2 percent (16-37) of its shots from the field in the first half, including 2-of-8 three-point shooting. The Huskers also pulled down a season-high 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone.


The Huskers held the Islanders to just 6-of-16 shooting (37.5 percent) from the field in the first half, including just 1-of-4 shooting from three-point range. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi did find its way to the free throw line 18 times in the first half as both teams battled extensive foul trouble throughout the game.


Nebraska maintained its 18-point lead midway through the second half before the Islanders used a quick 11-0 run to turn a 55-37 NU lead into a 55-48 Husker edge with just over eight minutes left in the game.


The Islanders held the Huskers without a field goal for nearly seven minutes after Griffin's eighth field goal of the game at the 11:48 mark, but Nebraska was able to withstand the Islanders' second-half storm.


With Hardy on the bench with four fouls, the Huskers maintained their lead. When Hardy returned to the court with approximately six minutes left, she padded NU's lead with five quick points to push the Husker edge back to 16 points at 68-52 before fouling out with just under three minutes remaining in the game.


After Hardy left the game, the Islanders made one last surge, trimming NU's lead to 10 points at 70-60 on Nicole Duncan's three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining.


The Huskers sealed the game at the free throw line, including a Griffin free throw with 1:17 remaining in the game to make her just the second NU freshman in history to score 30 or more points in a game.


For the game, Nebraska shot 39.7 percent (25-63) from the field, including just 22.2 percent (2-9) from three-point range. The Huskers hit 68.6 percent (24-35) of their free throws, including 17-of-23 attempts at the stripe in the second half. NU did a solid job of handling TAMUCC's full-court pressure in the second half, finishing the game with 17 turnovers, while forcing 25 turnovers by the Islanders.


Texas A&M-Corpus Christi shot a nearly identical 39.6 percent (19-48) from the field, while hitting 33.3 percent (4-12) of its shots from three-point range. TAMUCC added 73.3 percent (22-30) shooting at the free throw line.


The Islanders committed 31 team fouls and had three players foul out of the contest, while three others finished the game with four fouls. Nebraska was whistled for 28 team fouls, as Hardy fouled out and four other Huskers finished the game with four fouls apiece. The 59 combined personal fouls ranked as the third-highest total in school history, and the most in a non-conference game in the NU record book.


The Huskers will return to Nebraska on Monday to begin preparations for a road contest at nationally ranked Minnesota. NU will face the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis on Saturday, Dec. 3, with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m.


Nebraska vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Box Score

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