March 1, 2014
Box Score |
LINCOLN, Neb. -- In front of the largest basketball crowd in the short history of Pinnacle Bank Arena, Nebraska pulled away from Northwestern in the second half and posted a 54-47 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Northwestern's Alex Olah scored a game-high 20 points and added a team-best seven rebounds Saturday. The sophomore dumped in 14 points in the game's final 20 minutes. Drew Crawford and Tre Demps were also in double figures scoring with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
As a team NU forced 10 turnovers, but the Wildcats were only able to score five points off those turnovers. Conversely, Nebraska forced nine turnovers and had 10 points off Wildcat miscues.
Scoring was at a premium in the early going inside Nebraska's new facility. Dave Sobolewski opened the scoring about two minutes into the game with a three-pointer, but the Huskers' Walter Pitchford answered with a trey of his own on the next possession to knot the score at 3-3. Over the next 6:20, however, the two sides combined for just eight points as defense reigned supreme.
Shortly thereafter Nebraska's David Rivers made one-of-two from the charity stripe to ignite an 8-2 run over the next 3:42 to take a nine-point lead, 17-8. The Wildcats were forcing turnovers, six to be exact through the first 13:20, but the stops were not leading to easy baskets.
Northwestern's Demps buried a three-pointer that cut the first-half deficit to six points before Crawford converted a finger-roll in the lane for his first field goal of the game, one that put the Wildcats down by only three points, 17-14, with more than four and a half minutes remaining in the opening stanza.
Nebraska pushed its lead up to eight points, but the Wildcats kept punching back. Demps made a pair of free throws and Olah drained a three-point basket from the left side to make it a three-point game, 22-19, with about 2:20 left in the half. The Huskers were poised to take a seven-point lead into the locker room, but Demps beat the buzzer with his second three-pointer of the afternoon to make it 26-22 at the break in favor of the home team.
Demps led all scorers with eight points in the first half, while Sanjay Lumpkin hauled down a game-high five rebounds in the first 20 minutes for the 'Cats.
As was the case in the first half, NU opened the scoring in the second half with a three-pointer, this time from Olah. The center's shot from long distance pulled the Wildcats to within a point. The Huskers went back up by six, but Northwestern continued to chip away. Crawford's jumper pulled his team to with a single point, 31-30, with 11:46 left to play.
After Crawford's bucket, the Huskers turned up the heat and orchestrated a 11-4 run over the next four-plus minutes to take a 10-point lead. A jumper by Demps with 5:18 left to play got the 'Cats back to within six points of the hosts.
Olah converted a lay-up in traffic to get the Wildcats within five points with 2:03 remaining. Nebraska scored on its next possession, but Crawford answered the call with a big three from the right wing to make it a four-point game with 75 seconds left on the clock. NU called a timeout after the make and then forced yet another turnover on the defensive end.
The 'Cats were not able to score on their next trip with the ball and Nebraska was able to hang on for the 54-47 victory.
The Wildcats return to Evanston for Senior Night on Thursday, March 6 against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Crawford, Nikola Cerina and James Montgomery III will each be honored in a brief pregame ceremony before their last contest at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 5:30 p.m. for the celebration. The game's scheduled tip time is 6 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPNU.
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