Maybe it was because they were well-rested after Christmas break. Or maybe it was because they were playing at home. Or maybe it was the savvy of former Husker Lindsey Moore on the scout team in practice on Saturday.
Whatever the reason, the No. 18 Nebraska women’s basketball team was a runaway locomotive Sunday, racing to a 24-0 lead on its way to an 89-53 thrashing of Oral Roberts in front of 5,811 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Senior Jordan Hooper, who scored 30 points to move into fifth place on the all-time Husker scoring list, said she didn’t even look up at the scoreboard until about halftime. If she had been scoreboard-watching, she would have seen 23 of her 30 points and a huge 62-25 halftime advantage.
“I think we were ready to go,” Hooper said. “Our defense disrupted what they wanted to do in the first half. I think what we’ve been doing every game is sharing the ball and just running our offense. We were really excited to play this game, waiting for eight days.”
The Huskers (10-2) hit their first seven shots to get a 17-0 lead just four minutes into the game. Hooper scored nine points as Nebraska hit a 24-0 advantage with 12:49 to play in the half.
“Our first practice back from Christmas break was really good,” Hooper said. “We had two great practices out of three days, so I think that really prepared us for this game.”
Oral Roberts (1-9), which came into the game on an eight-game losing streak, finally broke the Husker scoring barrage on a jumper from Kaylan Mayberry, but Nebraska kept rolling. The lead reached 33 points, 35-2, after an Emily Cady three-pointer near the 10-minute mark of the first half.
“I think we did a good job of finding the open man,” said Tear’a Laudermill, who finished with a career-high five assists. “We were finding Hooper; she was on fire. Hooper was hitting shots, Emily was hitting shots, just everyone was hitting shots.”
Nebraska shot 64 percent (23-of-36) from the field, including 8-of-16 from the three-point line, and converted all eight free throws in setting a school-record first-half scoring mark.
Moore, who was honored before halftime for her part in helping the Minnesota Lynx to the WNBA championship in October, was impressed.
"It’s funny because I actually practiced with them yesterday,” Moore said. “I was on the scout team, and that was really kind of weird. I knew they’d be pretty good. I’ve had high hopes and high expectations for this team just because I know what they’re capable of. To come out hot and lighting it up, I wasn’t expecting that, so they blew me away."
Oral Roberts, which pushed Marquette to overtime before losing Dec. 18, managed just two points from its starting five in the first 20 minutes.
Nebraska kept adding to its enormous lead in the second half. Hooper drained a three-pointer, then stole a pass and sailed in for a layup for a 49-point bulge (83-34) with 9:49 to play.
“We did what we’ve been doing every game, and that is sharing the ball and just running our offense,” Hooper said. “Our defense has been great. ‘T’ (Laudermill) has been great being the 'hound' and giving us energy.”
Nebraska put five players in double figures. Cady scored 15 and Laudermill, Rachel Theriot and Sadie Murren added 11 points apiece.
Christian Key, who had just two points at the half, scored 23 in the second half and led Oral Roberts with 25. She and Mayberry (20 points) scored 45 of the Golden Eagles’ 53 points.
Nebraska opens Big Ten play Thursday against Northwestern at Pinnacle Bank Arena.