Feb. 8, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern was bolstered by a boisterous home crowd, but the Wildcats surrendered a slim six-point halftime lead as they dropped a close call against the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers at Welsh-Ryan Arena Saturday afternoon, 53-49.
Terran Petteway scored a game-high 17 points for Nebraska and teammate Walter Pitchford added 15, including a pair of free throws that gave Nebraska the lead for good with 3:10 left in the game. JerShon Cobb netted 14 to lead Northwestern in the scoring column, while Drew Crawford scored 13, including 12 in the second half.
Neither team got off to an ideal start from the field Saturday afternoon. Both squads opened up by hitting only three of their first 10 attempts. However, two of those three for Nebraska came from downtown as they built an early 8-7 lead over the first seven minutes. Moments later NU's Cobb put his team back in the lead, 12-10, with a triple of his own with 11:16 to go in the opening half.
About four minutes later, Northwestern's man in the middle, Alex Olah, sent Welsh-Ryan Arena into a tizzy with just under six minutes to play in the opening half. The 7-foot sophomore stepped out and drained his fourth three-point basket of the season to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, to that point, at five.
Nebraska climbed back to within three points on a couple of occasions, but each time the 'Cats had an emphatic answer. Ray Gallegos led a Husker fast break with 1:37 left to play as he tried to pull his team within a point. NU's Drew Crawford had other ideas, however, and he caught Gallegos from behind and explosively swatted his effort off the backboard. Sanjay Lumpkin corralled the loose ball and shoveled it ahead to Olah who aptly used the backboard to bank home another basket.
Moments later Tre Demps drilled a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Wildcats a six-point lead, 22-16. That score would remain unchanged as the teams retreated to their respective locker rooms for the intermission.
After opening the first half just 3-of-10, the Wildcats regrouped and made five of their final 11 efforts in the opening 20 minutes. Nebraska, on the other hand, continued to struggle, as it shot 3-of-14 after its 30-percent-start. Northwestern shared the ball well, recording assists on seven of its eight made field goals and the home team outrebounded the guests, 17-15, in the first half.
The Huskers opened the second half on a 12-5 run over the first 5:35 that culminated with a three-point basket by Pitchford that gave the Red and White a narrow 28-27 lead. Nebraska's Shavon Shields sank a layup that later put Nebraska up by three, but on the next possession, NU's Kale Abrahamson buried a three-pointer from the left corner to knot the score at 32-32.
Following Abrahamson's big bucket, the visitors orchestrated an 8-2 run that helped them build their lead to a game-high eight points with 6:57 remaining. At that point it was Northwestern's turn for a lengthy and inspired run. On the strength of two huge makes from downtown by Crawford, a teardrop layup from Demps, and the enthusiasm of a raucous Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd, the 'Cats clawed back to knot the game at 44-44 with a shade under four minutes to play.
Nebraska built the lead back to five points after Pitchford converted once again from downtown to give his team a 49-44 lead with 2:25 left in the game. With 22 seconds remaining, Nebraska's Petteway ballooned the lead to six, 52-46, but NU's Sanjay Lumpkin quickly answered with a three-pointer of his own that kept it as a three-point game with 14.6 second to go.
Following a timeout, Petteway made one-of-two from the charity stripe and Lumpkin's next three-point effort drew iron as the Huskers hung on to win, 53-49.
The Wildcats will hit the road, where they have won three straight games, for their next contest on Thursday, Feb. 13 at Michigan State. The 'Cats and Spartans will tipoff at the Breslin Center at 6 p.m. The game will be televised live on Big Ten Network and heard on AM 720 WGN. NU returns home on Sunday, Feb. 16 to host the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 5 p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775).
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