Huskers Hold Off No. 25 Kansas State, 70-63

Nebraska used a pair of 11-0 runs in the first half to race to a 24-point halftime lead, before withstanding a major second-half rally by No. 25 Kansas State, as the Huskers held on for a 70-63 win over the Wildcats at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday night.

Kiera Hardy, who earlier in the day was named one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, led the Huskers with a game-high 22 points after pumping in 13 points first-half points.

Junior forward Danielle Page added the second double-double of her career with 11 points and 10 rebounds, including nine points in the game's final 7:06 to help Nebraska improve to 15-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. Kansas State slipped to 14-3 overall and 2-2 in the league.

Sophomore forward Kelsey Griffin added 15 points and seven boards on 5-of-5 shooting from the field, while senior forward Chelsea Aubry pitched in 10 points and six boards to give the Huskers four players in double figures.

Hardy, Griffin and Aubry each produced double figures in the first half, as Nebraska raced to a 45-21 lead by hitting 18-of-29 shots from the field (62.1 percent) against a Wildcat defense that entered the game surrendering just 54.7 points per game.

TK LaFleur added seven first-half points among her nine for the game off the bench, including five straight to cap Nebraska's first 11-0 run of the opening period.

After NU's first run ended with a pair of baskets by KSU's Shana Wheeler, Hardy scored 10 of NU's next 12 points to build the Husker advantage to 42-18 on a three-pointer with 1:09 left in the half.

While the Huskers were on fire in the first half, Kansas State was ice cold, hitting just 9-of-29 shots (31 percent), including a 3-for-13 effort (23.1 percent) from three-point range. NU also outrebounded KSU 21-11 in a first half of complete dominance.

"I thought we played really well in the first half, not only on offense but also defensively," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "I think the major difference was in the first half we hit open shots. In the second half, we continued to get great looks, we just didn't hit shots. But I thought we kept our composure like we have all season long."

It was a much different story in the second half, as Kansas State opened the second stanza on a 19-2 run to trim NU's lead to just 47-40 with 13:17 left. NU hit just one of its first eight shots from the field and committed four turnovers, while the Wildcats knocked down seven of their first nine shots and a pair of free throws.

Griffin hit NU's first two baskets of the second half nearly seven minutes apart, before Hardy knocked down a jumper to push the Husker lead back to 51-40 with 11:49 remaining. NU stayed cold from the field though, going another six minutes without a field goal, as the Wildcats trimmed the lead 52-47, before Page converted a three-point play to change NU's fortunes with 7:06 left.

After starting the second half just 3-of-16 from the field, NU hit five of its final eight shots, including four field goals by Page off the bench.

Kansas State crept as close as 55-52 after five straight points from Ashley Sweat, but a three-point play by Hardy, two free throws from LaFleur and a pair of Page jumpers gave NU a 66-55 cushion with 2:59 left.

Hardy hit four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. Nebraska hit just 8-of-24 field goals in the second half, while missing all three of its three-point attempts.

"Kiera played a great game, in all areas all night long," Yori said. "She shot a high percentage, took great shots and made big plays for us down the stretch. Danielle Page also had a great game. She was huge for us late in the game at both ends of the floor."

For the game, Nebraska hit 49.1 percent (26-53) of its shots, including 28.6 percent (4-14) of its three-pointers. NU also connected on 70 percent (14-20) of its free throws.

Kimberly Dietz and Claire Coggins led five Wildcats in double figures with 14 points, while Shalee Lehning pitched in 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Wheeler and Sweat each finished with 10 points for KSU.

As a team, Kansas State hit 41.4 percent (24-58) of its field goal attempts, including 51.7 percent (15-29) in the second half. KSU connected on 8-of-12 three-pointers in the second half, as the Wildcats finished with an NU opponent season-high 11 three-pointers. KSU was also 4-of-5 at the free throw line.

Nebraska held a 41-23 advantage on the boards, but committed 17 turnovers compared to just 12 by the Wildcats.

The Huskers return to road action in the Big 12 on Saturday by traveling to Missouri. Tip-off at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo., is set for 5 p.m.

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