Huskers Cruise to 69-49 Win at Michigan

Kiera Hardy scored a game-high 21 points, including a trio of three-pointers, to propel the Nebraska women's basketball team to a 69-49 victory over Michigan at Crisler Arena on Saturday

With the victory, Nebraska stretched its winning streak to three games and improved to 5-3 on the season, while Michigan slipped to 5-6 on the year.


Nebraska Coach Connie Yori was extremely pleased with the Huskers' victory.


"We are very happy with the win," Yori said. "We just dominated in the second half. What a great win. We didn't play a great basketball game, particularly on the offensive end, but we did a really good job defensively in the second half."


Despite playing with a minor back strain suffered earlier in the week, Hardy connected on 8-of-13 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 three-pointers to produce the 19th 20-point scoring effort of her career.


"As of yesterday afternoon, we weren't sure if Kiera was going to be able to play," Yori said. "But Kiera is a gamer and she came out and gave us a big boost, played well and got it going in the second half."


Hardy, a first-team All-Big 12 Conference guard, scored 15 points and knocked down all three of her three-pointers, as Nebraska turned a 28-24 halftime lead into a runaway win.


Junior forward Jessica Gerhart added 12 points, five rebounds and two assists to help the Huskers.


"I thought Jess Gerhart really gave us a lift," Yori said. "She played more minutes than usual, especially in the first half because of Kelsey Griffin's foul trouble, and I thought she did a good job. For the second game in a row, I also thought she played very well defensively."


Freshman forward Kelsey Griffin managed seven points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots despite sitting on the bench for 14 minutes in the first half with foul trouble.


Senior point guard LaToya Howell also played a solid game with six points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Chelsea Aubry added six points and six rebounds in a strong effort.


Nebraska shot 47.3 percent (26-55) from the field for the game, including 53.8 percent (14-26) in the second half. The Huskers were even better from three-point range, knocking down 53.3 percent (8-15) of their three-pointers, including 87.5 percent (7-8) in the second half. Nebraska also hit 9-of-13 free throws (69.2 percent).


The Huskers enjoyed a major advantage in turnover margin, committing just 13 turnovers while forcing the Wolverines in 23 miscues on the night. Michigan did manage to outrebound the Huskers, 32-31.


Nebraska held Michigan to just 37.3 percent (19-51) from the field, including just 27.8 percent (5-18) from three-point range. Michigan did hit 75 percent of its free throws, but managed just eight trips to the line.


Nebraska led from nearly start to finish in the game, recovering from an opening three-pointer by Michigan's Janelle Cooper to score the next six points to take a 6-3 lead that the Huskers never relinquished.


Although Nebraska never gave up control of the game, the Huskers had trouble shaking the scrappy Wolverines until the final 10 minutes of the game.


Nebraska led by as many as nine points on four occasions in the first half and built the lead back to nine points on three more occasions in the first 10 minutes of the second half, before TK LaFleur connected on a three-pointer with 10:40 left to push NU's lead to double-digits at the first time at 46-34.


Howell added a breakaway layup to end a 7-0 Husker run to push Nebraska's lead to 14 points with 10:20 to play.


The lead hovered between 12 and 14 points until Hardy sparked an 8-0 NU run with five straight points before Aubry knocked down her second three-pointer of the game to give Nebraska a 20-point lead at 58-38 with 6:08 to play.


Nebraska maintained its 20-point edge the rest of the way, giving new Husker Sara Hieb and senior Ivana Drmanac their first playing time of the season.


Hieb, a 5-3 guard from Brandon, S.D., who was added to NU's roster this week, and Drmanac, who made her first appearance after missing the Huskers' first seven games after knee surgery, both played the final minute for Nebraska in the win.


The Huskers return home for the first time since Dec. 7, when Nebraska plays host to Texas State on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Tip-off time is set for 7:05 p.m. with radio coverage on the Pinnacle Sports Network, including 98.1 FM-KFGE in Lincoln.



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