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BYU women aim for 2nd NCAA upset against Nebraska

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm •  Published: March 23, 2014
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — BYU's Jennifer Hamson has seen just about every defense used against her. Rarely does the 6-foot-7 center get rattled.

Hamson will need to keep her cool against fourth-seeded Nebraska (26-6) in the Cougars' second-round NCAA tournament game. The Cornhuskers will try to disrupt the West Coast Conference's player of the year who leads her team offensively (18.1 points per game) and defensively (11.4 rebounds and 137 blocked shots).

"She's been fronted, she's been played behind, the whole team has surrounded her," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. "I don't know what Nebraska will do. Hopefully we can adjust to it. That will be a key."

Hamson dislocated her left middle finger late in 12th-seeded BYU's 72-57 upset of No. 5 seed North Carolina State on Saturday. The team didn't practice Sunday, when she iced it at the hotel.

"I don't think it'll affect her that much because it's her left hand, thank goodness," Judkins said.

Nebraska coach Connie Yori wasn't surprised BYU (27-6) advanced.

"I wore blue yesterday because I thought there was a really good chance that BYU would win that game," said Yori, who donned a denim blouse with beading. "I didn't want to wear blue when we were playing BYU. I don't think there is a clear-cut favorite in this game even though you look at the seedings."

Here are five things to watch for in Monday night's game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus:

BLOCK PARTY: Hamson tied a career-high with nine blocked shots against N.C. State, and the senior ranks second in the nation in blocks. As a team, the Cougars blocked a season-high 15 shots, with six of their eight players contributing at least one. "We haven't gone up against someone that tall and lengthy," said Big Ten player of the year Jordan Hooper, who is 6-2. "That's definitely going to be a challenge for us."

STREAKING: Both teams are coming into the second round on a roll. Nebraska has won 13 of 14 games and four in a row, with its last loss against Purdue on March 2. BYU has won 11 of 12, with its last loss against Gonzaga on March 11.

EXPERIENCED FRONTLINE: Hooper, Emily Cady and Hailie Sample will make their 100th consecutive start together against BYU. Hooper had 23 points and 11 rebounds against Fresno State; Cady had 15 points and 11 rebounds; and Sample had six points and seven rebounds. They all stand at least 6-foot. After Hamson, BYU's frontline includes 6-2 forward Morgan Bailey and 5-10 guard-forward Lexi Eaton. Bailey had 13 points and 12 rebounds against N.C. State, while Eaton scored 25 points — eight over her average. "All of their players are crafty and very skilled," Eaton said.

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