Longhorns cruise to 83-53 win over Nebraska
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Tiffany Jackson scored 19 points and No. 17 Texas stayed in the chase for a third straight league crown Wednesday night with an 83-53 rout of Nebraska.
Jamie Carey added 18 points for the Longhorns (14-7, 7-3), who led by 19 at halftime and cruised to their fifth win in the last six games.
Texas is the two-time defending regular season Big 12 champion. No team has won the Big 12 with more than three losses in league history.
Texas lost a total of three conference games the last two seasons and were the preseason favorites to win the crown again. The Longhorns sit in fifth place, behind a four-way logjam for first.
"We're a game behind the leaders in our conference, (but) we're in a position to give ourselves a chance," said Texas coach Jody Conradt.
The Longhorns wasted little time taking control against the Cornhuskers.
Carey stepped outside the Nebraska zone to hit three 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes. When Texas went inside, Jackson hit her first four shots and the Longhorns built a 33-14 lead.
"We set the tone early, got the lead and didn't relax," Conradt said.
Nebraska, which committed four straight turnovers in one early stretch, looked overwhelmed and never recovered.
"We know who their shooters are," said Nebraska coach Connie Yori. "Anybody with half a brain can look at a stat sheet and see Jamie Carey is a good shooter. We gave up way too many shots."
The Cornhuskers finished with 25 turnovers, which tied a season high. Kiera Hardy and Danielle Page scored 13 points apiece to lead Nebraska (14-8, 6-4).
Nebraska couldn't cut the deficit any lower than 15 over the last half of first and Jackson's bucket with 16 seconds left made it 43-24 at the break.
Jackson continued her stellar play over the last three weeks as Texas has turned its season around. She came in ranked No. 2 in scoring in the Big 12 with a 21-point average, behind Nebraska's Hardy (22.7).
Texas never let Hardy get untracked, holding her to just four points in the first half.
"Our effort wasn't what it needed to be," Hardy said. "We need to play harder."
In the second, Carey hit two more 3-pointers, Heather Schreiber hit another and Texas led by at least 21 over the last 13 minutes.
The Longhorns play another critical game on Sunday when they host rival No. 13 Texas Tech (17-4, 8-2), a team tied for the conference lead. The Lady Raiders beat Texas 79-62 in Lubbock on Jan. 12.
"We can't afford to lose any more games," Schreiber said. "We want our chance to win the Big 12 in our own hands. We don't want to have to rely on two or three teams to lose to have a chance to win."
Yori said the Longhorns appear primed for the tough stretch ahead.
"I think Texas is really turning it on at the right time," she said.
COACH AND PLAYER POSTGAME QUOTES
We had a lot better rthymn and flow offensively tonight. Tiffany (Jackson) will always draw a crowd and when she kicks it out and we reverse the ball, we can get good looks like we did tonight. Also, we had our transition game going, and in transition, you get open looks. Jamie (Carey) had a good night and Heather (Schreiber) also hit some big shots. We need to share the basketball and have balanced scoring like we did tonight.
We set the tone early, got a lead and didn't relax. We were able to get a good rotation going. We also got good minutes from people off the bench - Coco (Reed) played well, Kala Bowers was on the boards all night and made hustle plays, and Erneisha Bailey showed her ability tonight. We need help at the guard position to share minutes. I don't like it when Jamie and Nina have to play out there together all the time and they cannot get a breather here and there.
Also, this was Annissa's (Hastings) best game by far. She hustled and made plays all over the court. She has started to make plays for us and look like she's returning to the player she was before her (season-ending) injury last year. I've told her that there is no ball on either end of the floor that she cannot get. Annissa played with reckless abandon and got lots of loose balls all night long."
How the Longhorns kept Hardy (19.6 ppg overall, 22.7 ppg in Big 12) in check all night long and held her to 13 points ...
On the Big 12 race and upcoming schedule, starting with Sunday's game with No. 12 Texas Tech ...
Although we are a game behind the leaders in the conference, we still have a chance (for the Big 12 championship). Sunday's game will be big. Our fans love to come and get involved with Tech comes here, and hopefuly they will come out in big numbers. This team needs their support to make a run for the championship and make a run for the NCA tournament. I know our fans like how hard we play and I hope they will come out in big numbers on Sunday."
We've done so well at home because of the crowd and the energy they bring. We are comfortable here. When we start to lose momentum, our crowd gets behind us and gets involved. We appreciate the crowd and we feed off of it."
Senior F Annissa Hastings
Senior G Jamie Carey
We had a lot of energy out there tonight. It started an hour before game when we had a great warmup."
Nebraska Head Coach Connie Yori
Nina Norman did a good job on (Kiera) Hardy, and whomever else was guarding her. Kiera needs to get better in moving without the ball. Today, when she got touches, she was deep and couldn't create off the dribble because she was catching the ball so deep.
We have to play a collective game in order to beat a team like Texas. We have to have five players on the floor playing very hard on both ends. Texas' talent level is better than us - they are bigger and stronger.
I think Texas is really turning it on at the right time. I think they are going to be dangerous come tournament time."