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LINCOLN, Neb. – Penn State coach Coquese Washington called her team's defensive performance against Nebraska the worst of the season.
She also acknowledged she doesn't know if there was anything the No. 8 Lady Lions could have done to cool off the No. 16 Cornhuskers' incredible shooting in a 94-74 loss Monday night.
"They were just clicking on all cylinders tonight, and when you meet up a team that's having one of those nights where everybody is having a good night, it's tough to beat them," Washington said.
Ariel Edwards led Penn State with 24 points, Maggie Lucas had all 17 of her points in the second half, and Dara Taylor had 10.
Tear'a Laudermill scored 22 of her career-high 27 points and made six of her school record-tying seven 3-pointers in the first half for the Huskers (21-5, 11-3). Nebraska extended its winning streak to a season-best eight games and pulled within a half-game of the two-time defending champion Lady Lions (21-6, 12-3) in the Big Ten.
The surprisingly easy win came after a 3-point shooting performance that was best in Division I this season, according to STATS. The Huskers finished 16 of 22 from beyond the arc, a 72.7-percent clip. The school record for 3s is 17.
The Huskers made 11 of 14 3-pointers in the first half. The 78.6-percent accuracy was best by a major-conference team in a half this season and No. 2 in Division I behind Alabama State's 81.8 percent (9 of 11) against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The 94 points were the most points allowed by Penn State in a non-overtime game since a 96-81 loss to Iowa in February 2002.
"It's easily our worst defensive performance of the year, and I thought Nebraska played extremely well," Washington said. "They capitalized on opportunities when they had open shots. They pulled on the energy from the crowd. That was a strong component for them."
Jordan Hooper added 19 points for the Huskers, Rachel Theriot had 17 and Emily Cady had 14.
The Huskers held Lucas scoreless until the second half. The Big Ten's second-leading scorer had averaged better than 23 points in four previous games against Nebraska. Hailie Sample and Laudermill shadowed Lucas everywhere, and the conference preseason player of the year missed her first eight shots before making her first field goal with 14:16 left.
The crowd razzed Lucas after she launched an air ball from the top of the key early in the second half. Her first points came on a couple free throws the next time down the court. She went to the bench frustrated after committing her third foul, throwing her towel under her chair as she sat down.
Lucas, who scored 34 points and made an arena-record eight 3-pointers the last time she faced the Huskers, ended up 5 of 18 with three 3s.
"Stop her from getting hot. Don't let Maggie Lucas catch the ball," Laudermill said, describing the defensive plan against Lucas.
Penn State had beaten Nebraska three straight times, and the game had been circled on the Huskers' calendar since their win streak put them back in contention in the Big Ten race.
"They kind of had our number for two years, and we couldn't really do anything against them," Hooper said. "Finally, we came out with more fire in our eyes and more focus, so we were ready."
The Huskers led all the way, were up 22 points at halftime and stretched the lead to 32. It was Penn State's most lopsided loss of the season.
With about a minute left, the student section began chanting, "We Want UConn!"
Laudermill's third 3-pointer put Nebraska up 14 points less than five minutes into the game, and she made three more before she missed from the corner after calling for a cross-court pass from Theriot.
"Coach gave me the green light, so I kept shooting," Laudermill said.
Nebraska outscored Penn State 14-2 the last 4 minutes of the half to lead 52-30, and the Huskers went on to hand Penn State its first Big Ten road loss.