Moore all about winning for No. 21 Nebraska women
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)
Lindsey Moore flashed a big smile and laughed when she thought back to her first game for Nebraska.
She was a nervous freshman waiting for her name to be called during the introduction of starters.
''I remember sitting there thinking, `Don't fall. Please, don't fall. If you're going to trip, do it running to the locker room, but don't fall right now,''' she said.
Four years and 127 games later, Moore knows the drill better than almost anyone who came before her at Nebraska. She's expected to start her school-record 128th game in a row when the Cornhuskers (22-7) play Iowa (20-11) on Friday in the Big Ten tournament in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
The point guard from Covington, Wash., will be going for her 92nd career win, which would break Kelsey Griffin's record of 91 in 127 career starts.
Moore's role has evolved like no other player's during what has been the program's most successful era.
She didn't come to Nebraska with the reputation of a scorer. Her first year, she was the ball distributor and averaged six points for a senior-dominated team led by Griffin that reeled off 30 straight wins, won the Big 12 and advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals.
The next season, with those seniors gone and an injury-ravaged lineup, she more than doubled the number of shots she took and has been good for an average of 15 points ever since.
''She's had to do it for three years,'' coach Connie Yori said. ''Most folks don't realize how good she was as a sophomore for us when she had not been asked to be a big scorer as a freshman. She took a ton of big shots for us. We didn't win as many games, but she didn't have as much help.''
That Moore has a .717 winning percentage is a good thing, as much for her as the people around her. Her roommate of two years, junior forward Jordan Hooper, said Moore is not pleasant to be around after a loss.
''You know it when we lose,'' Hooper said. ''She comes to practice with a different intensity. She's focused. She wants to get better, as do all of us, but I think her focus is a little bit different.''
Dominique Kelley played two seasons with Moore and is now a graduate assistant under Yori. She also has been officiating partners with Moore for three years in a high school summer league and for youth club games.
Kelley said she came to respect Moore's drive to win while taking her on in heated one-on-one games. They always walked off the court as friends, but that might not have been the case if Kelley's opponent had been another teammate. Moore could dish out the trash talk, and she could take it, too.
''The reason why Lindsey and I hit it off is she's just a competitor,'' Kelley said. ''That's what sets her apart from everybody else. Sometimes she's a little misunderstood. She wants to win every day, not just on game day.''
Moore's will to win was never more apparent this season than in a 76-75 road victory over Iowa that she sealed with a couple of free throws in the final seconds. She scored all 14 of her points in the second half, grabbed seven rebounds and had seven assists against one turnover. She also put her head down and went to the basket three times late in the game, winning the admiration of her coach even though she didn't score on any of those drives.
''She turned it over once and missed two layups,'' Yori said. ''Well, those are good plays. You want to go to the basket. The last three minutes of the game she's been willing to do that. It's not always going to turn out in your favor. Sometimes you're going to be the goat, but she's willing to do that.''
Moore is a two-time finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation's top point guard. She leads the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) and is third in assists (5.4). She's eighth in scoring (15 ppg), second in 3-point percentage (.409) and 10th in overall field-goal percentage (.470).
Nikki Bober, a senior on the Big 12 championship team in 2009-10 and now basketball operations director at Eastern Michigan, said Moore has changed her game to suit the needs of the team but has never lacked for confidence.
''I don't remember her ever being shy or just another freshman,'' Bober said. ''She fit right in and was a great contributor.''
Bober said the leadership Moore displays now, and the respect she's earned from teammates and coaches, can be traced to her early days in the program. She said it had to be a ''shock to the system'' for Moore to go from playing high school basketball one year to starting against nationally-ranked opponents the next.
Moore said she got more than she bargained for at Nebraska, going from wobbly freshman to one of the greatest players to go through the program.
''We want to get to the NCAA tournament and we want to make a push,'' she said. ''I think we're the type of team that can.''