LOS ANGELES – Jordan Hooper had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and fourth-seeded Nebraska defeated Fresno State 74-55 in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament Saturday.
Emily Cady added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cornhuskers (26-6), the Big Ten tournament champions who have won 13 of 14 games.
Taylor Thompson was the only player in double figures with 14 points for the 13th-seeded Bulldogs (22-11). They closed within four points early in the second half, but never got any closer in falling to 0-7 in the NCAA tourney. The Mountain West tourney champions had their eight-game winning streak snapped.
The Huskers advanced to play either No. 5 seed North Carolina State or 12th-seeded BYU in Monday’s second round at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus.
Tear’a Laudermill added 13 points, and Rachel Theriot had 10 points and 12 assists for the Huskers, who controlled the boards, 46-35.
The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 15-9 run to close to 38-34, getting four points each from three different players. Their bench outscored Nebraska’s reserves, 20-7.
The Huskers answered by outscoring Fresno State 14-7, including two 3-pointers each from Hooper and Laundermill, to go up 52-41. From there, the Huskers cruised to the finish.
Bulldogs guard Alex Furr went down clutching her left knee with 9:26 left in the game. The junior, who has torn her left ACL twice in recent years, returned later to score a basket.
The Huskers pulled away to a 29-19 halftime lead on a 17-7 run, including six points by Hooper and five from Cady.
The game’s first 10 minutes were a messy affair, with four ties and six lead changes to go with a slew of turnovers and poor shooting by both teams. Fresno State shot 26 percent and had 11 turnovers; while the Huskers shot 35 percent and had seven miscues.