Moore guides Huskers to Sweet 16
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- As Gary Blair saw his team's season slipping away Monday, he had a vision of another point guard from the Pacific Northwest who had controlled an NCAA second-round game against his Texas A&M squad. Just like that time, this one wasn't a pretty picture for the Aggies.
In 2010, it was Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot who helped upset Texas A&M. Monday, it was her old Kentwood High (Wash.) teammate, Lindsey Moore of Nebraska, who did it.
The sixth-seeded Huskers will make their second Sweet 16 appearance in program history after beating the No. 3 seed Aggies on their home court 74-63.
The Norfolk Regional is now devoid of its Nos. 3 and 4 seeds, as the latter, South Carolina, also was upset Monday. The Gamecocks fell to No. 12 seed Kansas.
The Jayhawks and Huskers have this in common: a battle-tested senior point guard who loves to carve up opposing defenses with her passing, but can score when she needs to. Angel Goodrich does that for Kansas, just as Moore does for Nebraska.
Moore sees the court with that eyes-in-the-back-of-her-head type vision. And, of course, the eyes in the front of her head are excellent, too.
She had 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in 40 minutes. After a first-round NCAA exit last season at the hands of Kansas and Goodrich, Moore was determined to make a run in her final NCAA tournament. And she has done that.
"We couldn't press her," Blair said of Moore. "We were not supposed to come off and help, because she was going to dump it [inside]. And our post players kept coming off to help."
That's another sign of a great point guard: They seem to be able to get defenders to make the same mistakes over and over. Moore said she thought Texas A&M post Kelsey Bone was often trying to make a play on the ball. And Moore capitalized, as she was able to get several lobs to her posts.
Jordan Hooper led the way inside for Nebraska with 21 points. Sophomore forwards Hailie Sample and Emily Cady were also key, combining for 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Nebraska shot 50 percent from the field in taking a 43-32 first-half lead. The Aggies were forced to play catch-up the entire second half, and that's usually where their pressure defense helps them.
It did eventually get Texas A&M some points, but not enough. Moore saw to that, keeping things clicking on the offensive end for the Huskers.
"I was really fortunate to play with a point guard like Courtney in high school; I definitely learned a lot from her," Moore said of Vandersloot, who is now with the WNBA's Chicago Sky. "And still when she went to college, watching her games and seeing how she carries herself on the court and just little things she would do. She's a really special point guard she just made me so much better. And I have her to thank for a lot of how I played today."
Nebraska has Moore to thank for how much she has been a part of both the school's Sweet 16 appearances. She was a freshman starter on a senior-dominated team in 2010, when Nebraska fell in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky.
That year, Nebraska was unbeaten all the way until the Big 12 tournament. It was Texas A&M, in fact, that beat the Huskers there.
That stuck in Moore's mind. Then the Huskers also lost to Texas A&M in their meeting in 2011, when the Aggies went on to win the NCAA title. Nebraska left for the Big Ten after that season.
Nebraska now leads its series with the Aggies 15-9; five of those games were in the 1980s when they weren't in the same league. Nebraska is now 6-6 in College Station, this being the Huskers' first win at Reed Arena since 2005.
While it was a night to celebrate for the Big Red, it was a tough loss for the Aggies. They had come off the high of winning the SEC tournament, where they were the No. 4 seed and upset both Tennessee and Kentucky.
But they never seemed on top of their game Monday. Senior guard Adrienne Pratcher led Texas A&M with 17 points, and Bone had 13. The Huskers fronted Bone in the post, but did so facing her instead of with their backs to her. It's a style that Nebraska has used at times this season, and it seemed to throw Bone off her game a bit.
Then again, all the Aggies were kind of "off" on this night. It may, or may not, have been Bone's last game for Texas A&M. She has another season of eligibility left, but is on track to graduate this year, her fourth in college. Bone sat out a season after transferring from South Carolina.
Bone said after the loss that she would sit down with Blair and her parents this week and try to come to decision about whether she will stay another season at Texas A&M or enter the WNBA draft in April.
Meanwhile, perhaps more WNBA scouts are taking a look at Moore, whose senior season continues.
"Lindsey is highly underrated," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "I wouldn't trade her for anybody."