Every time Ohio State looked like it might make a run Thursday night, Nebraska had an answer for the women’s basketball Buckeyes.
Most of the time, that answer was wearing No. 35 in red.
That jersey belongs to Jordan Hooper, a senior who was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season and is likely headed to such a distinction again if she can put together many more nights like she had in Columbus during the rest of the regular season.
She scored 16 points in the first half and 10 in the final 10 minutes as Ohio State tried to mount a comeback.
“My teammates did a really good job of finding me and I just shot it,” she said.
Ohio State fell behind 6-0 early and never led in the contest. They tied it twice in the middle stages of the first half before an 11-0 Nebraska run gave the Cornhuskers control of the game shortly before intermission.
The Buckeyes trailed 34-24 at the half and never got closer than six in the final 20 minutes.
They had a chance to draw within four near the 12-minute mark, but OSU center Ashley Adams missed a jumper and Nebraska point guard Lindsey Moore buried a three-pointer at the other end.
After a Tayler Hill layup for Ohio State, Moore made another trey to push the Nebraska lead back to 10.
Adams brought the Buckeyes within eight as the midpoint of the second half approached, but Hooper answered with a three-pointer.
When the lead was down to seven at the seven-minute mark, Hooper hit from deep again to make it 54-44. She finally put the Buckeyes away shortly thereafter when she connected on three straight jumpers for a personal 6-0 run that turned a 56-49 game at the six-minute mark into a 62-49 contest with three minutes to go.
“We tried to do a few different things against (Ohio State’s zone) and our kids do a pretty good job of finding Jordan,” Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said. “When she’s feeling it like she was I think our kids have a pretty good understanding of how to get her the ball.”
Hooper finished with a game-high 28 as the Cornhuskers (15-6, 5-3) send the Buckeyes (11-10, 1-7) to their third consecutive loss, this time in front of 2,753 at Value City Arena.
Moore added 11 points while sophomore forward Emily Cady had 10 for the visitors.
Hill did the most damage for struggling Ohio State as the senior guard scored 22 points, but Adams pitched in 12 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.
Hill went 7 for 17 from the floor, including 0 for 5 on three-point attempts, but she was not alone in struggling from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes shot 7.7 percent from three-point range, going 1 for 13. Aleksandra Dobranic made her only try from deep while Maleeka Kynard went 0 for 4 and Ameryst Alston, Amber Stokes and Cait Craft all went 0 for 1.
“Quite frankly, we have to have an off guard who’s going to put the ball in the basket to relieve some of the pressure on Tayler,” said Ohio State head coach Jim Foster, who tinkered with the lineup by replacing Raven Ferguson at guard with Kynard and Darryce Moore at forward with Dobranic. “We’re going to keep running people out there until it gets stopped.”
The Buckeyes closed out January with a 1-7 mark after going 10-3 in November and December.