Lincoln – Lindsey Moore led No. 21 Nebraska with 17 points and five assists, but it wasn’t enough to stop Alyssa Thomas and No. 11 Maryland from running to a 90-71 women’s basketball win over the Huskers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday.
Nebraska slipped to 5-2 with its second loss to a 2012 conference champion, while Maryland improved to 4-1 in front of 6,238 fans at the Devaney Center.
Thomas, a preseason All-American, led the Terrapins with 25 points, five rebounds, eight assists and six steals in 36 minutes. Fellow All-America candidate Tianna Hawkins added a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Laurin Mincy added 16 points, including 4-of-4 shooting from three-point range, before leaving the game with a leg injury with just over 15 minutes left in the second half.
Moore led the Huskers with 17 points, while Jordan Hooper added 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks for the Big Red. Sophomore Hailie Sample contributed nine points, six boards and three assists in a solid effort, while fellow sophomore forward Emily Cady contributed six points, seven boards and three assists.
Husker freshman guard Rachel Theriot also put up the best numbers of her young career with six points, six rebounds and four assists against the Terps, while sophomore guard Tear’a Laudermill added eight points, three rebounds and two steals.
Nebraska worked its way to a 31-27 lead with five minutes left in the first half after back-to-back three-pointers from Moore and Theriot. But Maryland answered with an 11-2 run over the next 2:30 to regain a five-point lead. The Terrapins took a 46-37 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to 13 points apiece from Thomas and Mincy, who hit all three of her three-point attempts in the opening period. Hawkins added eight points and seven rebounds in the first half to help the Terrapins.
Moore led the Huskers with eight points and five assists in the first half, while Sample pitched in seven points despite picking up three first-half fouls. Theriot, in her first career start, added six points, six rebounds and three assists in the first 20 minutes.
Although NU trailed by nine at the break, the Huskers hit 16-of-33 shots from the field, including 4-of-7 three-pointers. Maryland answered with 50 percent (19-38) shooting, including 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc.
In the second half, the Huskers hung within striking distance despite a frenetic pace from the physical Terrapins. Thomas controlled the flow of play at both ends of the court, but NU still trailed by nine at 55-46 after a Sample jumper with 14:50 to play.
Thomas answered with five straight points to push the Maryland margin to 14, but Hooper and Moore answered with four straight to cut the edge to 10 points with 12:33 left.
The Maryland lead remained at 10 with 11 minutes left before the Huskers forced a turnover and Moore missed a jumper with a chance to cut the lead to eight. Thomas got the rebound and found Hawkins for a layup at the other end. Hooper then had a clean look at a short jumper but drew back iron. Malina Howard cleared the board and moments later found Katie Rutan for a three-pointer to extend the Maryland margin to 69-54 with 9:31 left.
The Huskers were unable to pull closer than 15 the rest of the way, as the Terps sealed their first-ever win in Lincoln.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Maryland,” Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. “They are a really talented team, who played well tonight. They are well-coached, and I think they are a legitimate Final Four contender. There are not many players in the country better than Alyssa Thomas. There’s a really good reason why she is a first-team preseason All-American. I think this was definitely their best game so far this season. We could have played better, and we’ve got things to improve on, but we got beat by a really good basketball team tonight.”
Nebraska cooled off from the field in the second half, hitting just 33.3 percent (12-36) of its shots, including 2-of-6 threes. For the game, the Huskers finished 40.6 percent (28-69) from the floor, including a solid 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from beyond the arc. NU finished the night just 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) at the free throw line.
Maryland finished 50.7 percent (35-69) from the field for the game and 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) from long range. The Terps also hit 13-of-18 free throws (72.2 percent).
Nebraska battled the nation’s best rebounding team to a near draw. The Terps entered the game with a plus-28 average rebounding margin through four games, but edged NU just 41-40 on the boards. The Huskers also got 19 offensive rebounds compared to 16 for the Terps.
“I was really excited about the way our team competed tonight,” Yori said. “They showed me a little more toughness than I think I was giving them credit for. To outrebound a great rebounding team like Maryland in the second half, says a lot about the way we competed, and I told our team I was proud of them for that. We can learn a lot from tonight’s game.”
Nebraska will face its third 2012 conference champion in eight games this season, when the Huskers welcome Big Sky regular-season champs Idaho State to the Devaney Center on Saturday. Tip-off between the Huskers and Bengals is set for 2:05 p.m. Idaho State returns four starters from last year’s squad that won 24 games. Tickets are available now at Huskers.com.