Hardy leads Huskers past USC

Los Angeles, Calif. - Nebraska erupted for a 16-6 run in the first four minutes of the second half to break a halftime tie and never looked back, as the Huskers notched their fifth consecutive victory with a 72-65 win over USC at the Galen Center on Sunday afternoon.

Preseason All-American Kiera Hardy produced one of the best performances of her career by scoring 32 points with four rebounds, four assists and five steals to lead the Huskers. It tied for the second-highest scoring total of her career and her fourth career 30-plus scoring effort.

The two-time first-team All-Big 12 guard from Kansas City, Mo., hit 14-of-23 shots from the field, including 4-of-10 three-pointers.Hardy, who scored 17 points to carry the Huskers in the first half, added 15 in the second half, including the game-clinching three-pointer with 40 seconds left in the game to help Nebraska improve to 5-1 on the season. USC, which was ranked in the top 20 in the preseason national rankings, slipped to 2-3 on the year.

"Whoa - what a performance by Kiera Hardy," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "Kiera had a great game offensively, but the best thing about her today was that she played a complete game. She started it for us on defense with her pressure on the ball, and she also distributed the ball well and rebounded well."

Sophomore forward Kelsey Griffin added 15 points, including a big second half with 13 points, while leading the Huskers on the glass for the sixth consecutive game with seven rebounds.

The Huskers, who struggled from the field in the first half, caught fire in the second half to build a double-digit lead before the first media timeout. Nebraska shot 64 percent from the field in the second half, including key early three-pointers from Nicole Neals, Chelsea Aubry and Jelena Spiric to build the second-half advantage.

Nebraska finished the day shooting 49.2 percent (30-61) from the field, including 36.4 percent (8-22) from three-point range. The Huskers also forced 23 turnovers by the Women of Troy, while committing just 15 miscues of their own.

Hardy, who was 7-of-12 from the field in the first half, was the only Husker to hit more than one field goal in the first half, as NU shot just 38.9 percent in the first half and just 30.8 percent (4-13) from three-point range. Nebraska was also shut out at the free throw line in the first half, going 0-for-1.

USC stayed in the game at the line in the opening stanza, hitting 9-of-12 free throws. USC hit 10-of-21 shots (47.6 percent) from the field and 3-of-6 shots (50 percent) from three-point range, but committed 13 first-half turnovers and NU attempted 15 more field goals than the Women of Troy in the first half.

The Huskers cooled down USC in the second half, limiting the Trojans to just 39.3 percent shooting in the second half, including just 27.3 percent from three-point range. The Women of Troy were able to stay in the game by outscoring NU, 17-4 at the line, while shooting 81 percent at the line for the game. Nebraska hit just 4-of-11 free throws on the day.

For the game, Chloe Kerr led USC with 25 points, while Jamie Hagiya added 15 points in a losing effort.

Nebraska returns to Lincoln to play host to Texas-Pan American on Tuesday. Tip-off at the Devaney Center is set for 7:05 p.m.

Nebraska vs. USC Box Score

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