Nebraska extended its winning streak to eight games with the win, and improved its record to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12. Kansas, which entered Saturday's game as one of five unbeaten teams around the country, fell to 12-1 and 1-1 in the league after its lowest offensive output of the season.
Kansas, which shot 59.3 percent in the first half, hit just 34.4 percent after intermission, including just 1-of-10 from three-point range in the final 20 minutes. The Huskers became the first team to shoot 50 percent from the field against the Jayhawks this season, connecting on 52 percent (27-52) of their field goal attempts. NU has shot 50 percent or better in each of its two Big 12 contests after shooting 50 percent just once in 11 non-conference games.
Hardy, who missed her first three attempts from the field, caught fire, hitting nine of her next 11 shots, including four three-pointers, as she eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the sixth time this season. She also climbed three spots on Nebraska's all-time scoring list into 15th place with 1,093 points, while taking over sole possession of second place on NU's career three-point list with 149. She needs just seven more three-pointers to take over the Nebraska three-point record.
"Kiera has had so many big games that it is hard to rate this one," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "When she is good, she can carry you and tonight she did that. She can create shots, hit shots and she is streaky, so when she is going good, you have to let her go. Tonight looked like Kiera Hardy from last season. She was very good."
Griffin, a 6-2 native of Eagle River, Alaska, scored in double figures for the ninth time this season and led the Huskers on the boards. She hit 6-of-7 shots from the field and 4-of-6 free throws in a solid effort, after making her Big 12 debut with 12 points and nine rebounds at Colorado on Wednesday.
Junior forward Jessica Gerhart joined Hardy and Griffin in double figures by scoring 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. She added three boards and one blocked shot, while junior forward Chelsea Aubry added nine points and five rebounds in a solid effort.
In a well-played and entertaining first half, Kansas took a 35-34 lead into the locker room, as the two teams combined to shoot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half. Nebraska hit 14-of-27 field goals (51.9 percent) and KU was even better, hitting 16-of-27 field goals (59.3 percent). The two teams combined to shoot just four free throws and committed just 16 total turnovers. NU was plus-two in the turnover department (9-7), while KU was plus-two in the rebounding category (14-12). Both teams dished out seven assists and both teams recorded five steals in the first half.
In a first half that featured 10 lead changes, both teams led by as many as five points. Kansas took the first five-point lead on Ivana Catic's jumper to make it 15-10. Nebraska answered quickly with a 10-0 run, sparked by five straight points from Kiera Hardy, including a three-pointer to tie the game at 15.
Kansas native Sarah White continued NU's surge with five straight points including her three-pointer with 10:50 to play in the half to give Nebraska its biggest first-half lead at 20-15. The Jayhawks responded quickly with seven straight points and neither team led by more than three points the rest of the opening half.
Hardy led the Huskers with 11 points, including a trio of three-pointers, while Griffin and Gerhart both contributed six points. Crystal Kemp led the Jayhawks with 10 points and four rebounds, while Kaylee Brown scored eight points and Erica Hallman added seven first-half points.
After shooting 59 percent in the first half, Kansas started the second half even hotter, building a six-point lead by hitting 5-of-6 shots from the field in the opening 3:19 of the second half to take a 45-39 lead. But Nebraska's defense stymied the Jayhawks the rest of the way, holding KU to just 6-of-26 shooting from the field the rest of the way.
With KU leading 49-48 in the second half, the Huskers went on a decisive 12-3 run, which started with a Griffin three-point play. After hitting the free throw, Griffin added another basket to the run, while Gerhart chipped in back-to-back baskets and Hardy nailed a three-pointer to put the Huksers in the lead, 60-52, which at the time was the largest lead for either team in the game.
The Huskers played efficient basketball in the second half, committing just four turnovers, while finished the game with just 11 turnovers. Kansas also took excellent care of the basketball, committing just 14 miscues.
Hardy pushed the Huskers' lead to 10 with a jumper with less than five mintues to go in the game, followed by two made free throws that gave NU a 66-54 lead., as the Huskers cruised to their sixth consecutive home win in their 400th all-time game at the Devaney Center.
Kemp carried KU offensively with 23 points, on 11-of-14 shooting, and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Brown totaled 13 points, including a trio of three-pointers.
Nebraska returns to action on Wednesday, Jan. 11, when the Huskers play host to Missouri (12-2, 2-0) at the Devaney Center. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. against the Tigers, who opened Big 12 play by snapping defending national champion Baylor's 30-game winning streak, before running to a 68-42 win over Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.