Emily Cady notched her ninth career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds to power No. 15 Nebraska past Alabama, 62-48, on Monday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Huskers improved to 2-0 in front of nearly 5,000 fans at their new home, while Alabama slipped to 0-2 with losses to a pair of 2013 NCAA Tournament teams.
Cady, a 6-2 junior forward from Seward, Neb., hit 4-of-7 shots from the field, including a three-pointer, while going a career-best 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Cady helped Nebraska outscore the Crimson Tide 20-4 at the free throw line for the game.
Sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot added one of the best efforts of her career with 17 points and five assists. Theriot hit 7-of-14 shots from the floor, despite going just 1-for-6 from three-point range. As a team, Nebraska went just 4-for-20 from beyond the arc.
All-American Jordan Hooper struggled with her shooting stroke after opening the season with 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting against UCLA. The 6-2 senior forward from Alliance, Neb., hit just 3-of-12 shots, including 1-of-6 from long range to settle for eight points. Hooper led the Huskers with 13 rebounds, while adding a career-high matching four assists on the night. Through two games, Hooper is averaging 17.5 points and 12.0 rebounds.
Tear'a Laudermill gave the Huskers a lift with six points, an assist, a block and a steal off the bench, while Hailie Sample, Brandi Jeffery and Hannah Tvrdy all contributed four points.
In a low-scoring affair that felt like a mid-season conference contest in part because Nebraska Coach Connie Yori and Alabama Coach Kristy Curry spent five seasons going head-to-head in the Big 12, NU hit just 38.8 percent (19-49) of its shots. In fact, Cady, Theriot and Laudermill were the only Huskers to hit a field goal for nearly 26 minutes in the game, from the 14:45 mark in the first half until the 8:56 mark in the second half. Those three combined for just nine field goals during that long stretch, but the Huskers were still able to build a 16-point lead after Tvrdy's layup off an assist from Hooper to make it 49-33.
Hooper then scored five straight points in a 54-second span to push NU's lead to 55-37 with 7:12 left. The 18-point lead was NU's largest of the night, matched six minutes later at 62-44, before the Tide trimmed the final margin to 14.
Nebraska's defense was solid from start to finish, holding its second straight major conference foe to fewer than 50 points, after allowing 49 to UCLA in the opener.
Daisha Simmons was the only Alabama player to manage double figures with team highs of 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals in 39 minutes of work. Simmons went just 6-of-18 from the field, as the Tide struggled to shoot just 31.7 percent (20-63), including 4-of-23 from three-point range. Shafontaye Myers, who led Alabama with 19 points in an opening-night loss at Chattanooga, went 3-for-14 and 0-of-8 from long range to finish with seven points.
Nebraska controlled the glass, outrebounding Alabama, 42-35. NU's experienced front line of Hooper, Cady and Sample combined for 32 of NU's 42 boards. However, Alabama won the turnover battle, 19-15.
Cady carried the Huskers to a 29-24 halftime lead by erupting for 15 first-half points. She hit 4-of-6 shots and all six of her free throw attempts. She added four rebounds and a steal. Cady helped NU to a 17-10 lead midway through the half, before Alabama rallied to take a 24-23 lead with 3:23 left. Cady answered with Nebraska's final four points of the half to send NU to the locker room with the lead.
While Cady went 4-for-6 from the field, the rest of the Huskers combined to go just 5-for-19, including Hooper who went 1-for-6 in the opening period. Hooper did yank down nine first-half rebounds and dished out two assists.
Nebraska outrebounded Alabama, 21-14, in the opening period but committed 10 first-half turnovers compared to just eight for the Crimson Tide. Simmons led the Tide with eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in the opening period. She fueled Alabama's comeback with seven straight points, before Briana Hutchen hit a short jumper to give the Tide their only lead at 24-23.
The Huskers hit the road for the first time in 2013-14 when they travel to Salt Lake City to battle Utah on Friday. Tip-off between Nebraska and the Utes is set for 6:30 p.m. (CT) with live national television coverage by the Pac-12 Network.