Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. For nearly 15 minutes in Friday's Big Ten quarterfinals upset-minded Iowa played right with second-seed Nebraska.
But the Hawkeyes couldn't find a solution for Jordan Hooper.
The Cornhusker forward helped launch an 11-3 run late in the first half and had 13 points in a six-minute span in the second as Nebraska ended Iowa's Big Ten season with a 76-61 decision at the Sears Centre.
"Jordan Hooper is a great player," Iowa guard Melissa Dixon said. "She got started by getting a lot of rebounds and that's how she started getting her points. We were having a tough time."
Nebraska had a lopsided 44-30 rebounding advantage and dominated inside with a 38-18 scoring advantage in the paint.
"They (also) had 18 second chance points and that's a lot of of high-percentage shots," Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said. "The points that we have up (in the paint) were just atrocious. You can't give up 38 paint points."
Nebraska (23-7) advanced to Saturday's conference semifinals either Wisconsin or No. 3 seed Purdue.
Guard Theairra Taylor collected a team-high 22 points while Dixon added 18 for the Hawkeyes (20-12) who have never beaten the Cornhuskers in six starts since Nebraska joined the Big Ten.
Friday's loss snapped Iowa's three-game winning streak.
Hooper, a junior who earned first team all-Big Ten honors, closed with a game-high 24 points, including three 3-pointers. But she was most effective in a six-minute stretch early in the second half when her double-digit production helped the Cornhuskers to a 53-34 lead.
Nebraska guard Lindsey Moore added 13 points while forward Emily Cady had a game-high eight rebounds.
Nebraska's high-water mark came with 4:45 to play when it opened a 27-point lead. Iowa never got closer than 13 points and that was in final 90 seconds.
"I thought we did a lot of things right today," said Nebraska coach Connie Yori. "It starts with rebounding for us and I thought we did a pretty good job of containing their penetration. We didn't give (Iowa scoring leader) Morgan Johnson a lot of touches. We got it going offensively against their zone and our ball movement was excellent."
Johnson, who averaged 15 points per game coming into Friday, was held to eight.
Friday's first half featured five lead changes and two ties before Nebraska took control.
Iowa's led 17-16 at the 7:59 mark of the first quarter following Dixon's 3-pointer. It was also the last time the Hawkeyes would be ahead.
Nearly four minutes later, Cornhusker guard Lindsey Moore launched a 9-0 run with a layup and Nebraska was on the way to a 34-24 halftime lead.
In the second half, Hooper's 13 points included back-to-back 3-pointers 30 seconds apart.
"It helps a lot to be able to get get close-in baskets and that opens up the outside," Hooper said. "My teammates were finding me no matter where I was."
NOTES: The loss was Iowa's third straight this season to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers claimed a 76-75 decision on Feb. 11 in Iowa City and a 66-46 win 13 days later at home ... The Cornhuskers are now 4-1 all-time in Big Ten tourney play while Iowa is 17-17 ... Despite the loss, Iowa still is likely bound for the NCAA tournament. "Absolutely," Bluder said. "Twenty wins, we have a 30 RBI, a strength of schedule in the 20s. We're not even a bubble team in my opinion." ... Dixon bounced back from scoring no points on Thursday against Northwestern to an effective 6-for-12 from the field, including four 3-pointers.