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LOS ANGELES – Nebraska trailed by 17 points in the first half and rallied in the second half to get within two points or less four times. The Cornhuskers just couldn't complete the comeback.
The Huskers lost to BYU 80-76 Monday night in the NCAA women's tournament and will be spectators when the school hosts the Lincoln Regional this weekend.
"It'll definitely hurt to not be able to be out there one last time," Big Ten player of the year Jordan Hooper said, "but that's OK."
Tear'a Laudermill scored 22 points and Hooper had 15 of her 20 points in the second half for fourth-seeded Nebraska (26-7), which finished with the second-most wins in school history and the second-fewest losses.
Laudermill rallied the Huskers with 12 consecutive points after they trailed by 12 with 3½ minutes left.
"If we would have had two more minutes, maybe, but that is the way sports are sometimes," Hooper said.
Trailing 41-30 at the break, Nebraska came out on a 20-10 run to close to 51-50. Hooper scored 12 points and Emily Cady added seven in the spurt. Cady finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Rachel Theriot had 11 points and nine assists, and Hailie Sample had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Huskers again got within one, then two points before Xojian Harry hit two consecutive 3s, Lexi Eaton scored and then Harry hit another 3 to extend BYU's lead to 69-57.
"We never give up no matter if we are down 20 or two, you keep going," said Hooper, a senior who played her final collegiate game. "It sucks to be down that much, but to make the climb back it was fun with this group."
The Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002.
Morgan Bailey tied her career high with 18 points, Jennifer Hamson had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Eaton added 15 points for the Cougars (28-6), who became just the third No. 12 seed to reach the final 16.
The Cougars led by 17 points in the first half on the way to their second straight upset, having defeated No. 5 seed North Carolina State in the first round at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. Next up is either No. 1 seed Connecticut or No. 9 seed Saint Joseph's.
Playing with a dislocated middle finger on her left hand from the first round, Hamson scored BYU's final five points after Nebraska got within three points and then two over the final 42 seconds.
BYU dominated the first half, leading by 17 and holding the Huskers to 33 percent shooting. Hamson, the 6-foot-7 shot blocker, disrupted the Huskers when Bailey wasn't backing them down and scoring.
The Cougars outscored the Huskers 23-10 to start the game, when BYU was shooting 60 percent. They extended their lead to 37-20 on the first of three straight baskets by Bailey before Nebraska outscored BYU 10-4 to end the half trailing 41-30.
Hooper had just five points in the first 20 minutes, when the Cougars owned a 16-10 edge on the defensive glass.