IOWA CITY — Nebraska's seventh straight win over Iowa in women's basketball had many of the same ingredients as the six wins in 2012 and 2013. But the Huskers got their biggest road victory of the year thanks to an extra spice — Tear'a Laudermill — in this increasingly lopsided series.
In NU's 80-67 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday afternoon, Laudermill, the junior guard whose irrepressible energy sometimes gets her into trouble spots on the court, scored a career-high 26 points. She hit four 3-pointers. She sliced around Iowa defenders for layups and assists. Helped by 25 points and 13 rebounds from surging star Jordan Hooper, Laudermill repeatedly put Iowa's defenders on their heels — without making costly mistakes.
“My gosh — 26 points on 12 shots — that's called efficiency right there,” coach Connie Yori said on her postgame radio show. “It's really fun to watch kids mature. It really is. You find joy in that as a coach.”
“T played so well today,” Hooper said. “She didn't even force shots. She just made them all. She got from there to there before I even got to half-court.”
It was the third straight big game for Laudermill, who had scored 18 points in each of her previous two.
“I'm just so confident,” she said. “Every game now is just fun. I'm like, 'Coach, I'm having fun! What's up with this?' ”
NU improved to 15-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten. More important, its RPI rating — in the mid-60s heading into the game according to realtimerpi.com — should get a positive jolt, since Iowa (17-6 and 5-4) was No. 30. The Huskers controlled the Hawkeyes from the tip, never trailed by any significant margin and blew the game open with a 14-0 run late in the first half.
After Iowa tied it at 19, Hooper scored seven straight points to start the run. Iowa didn't score for nearly six minutes. The Huskers led 38-27 at halftime.
To start the second half, Hooper again scored seven straight points to pad NU's lead to 45-27. The lead grew to 19 before Iowa point guard Sam Logic — who finished with a team-high 22 points — nailed back-to-back 3-pointers. Logic hit four treys in the second half.
But the Hawkeyes never got closer than 11 points. Husker forward Hailie Sample scored all 10 of her points in the second half, and on an otherwise tough shooting day, sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot hit two key jumpers down the stretch before fouling out.
Iowa was led by Logic and center Bethany Doolittle, who scored 16 points and blocked five shots. Though the Hawkeyes hit 7 of 19 3-pointers, their top 3-point shooter, Melissa Dixon, missed all five of her attempts. Yori said Nebraska played good defense on Dixon. After struggling with defense early in Big Ten play, the Huskers have slowed two strong offensive teams in Michigan and Iowa.
“I think we're just getting smarter as a defensive team,” Yori said.
Nebraska next plays at Wisconsin on Wednesday.