Tournament Seed Potentially on the Line as Huskers Host Penn State
Photo Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Huskers’ Rally Falls Short at Penn State

January 13, 2018

Penn State sophomore point guard Tony Carr missed 16 of his 21 shots on Friday night, but he hit the one that mattered most. 

With the game tied at 74-all in overtime and the final seconds ticking off, Carr rose up and fired from just inside the 3-point line, finding the bottom of the net with 2.7 seconds left.

Nebraska failed to get a shot off before the buzzer, sealing a 76-74 overtime win for Penn State at Bryce Jordan Center.

The Huskers (12-7, 3-3) shot 36.8 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from 3 and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line. Penn State wasn’t much better, shooting 39.4 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3 and 70.8 percent from the line. In the end, however, Penn State (13-6, 3-3) made one more field goal than the Huskers and that was enough.

The Huskers forced twice as many turnovers (14) as they committed (seven) and outscored Penn State 12-5 in points off turnovers. However, the Nittany Lions outscored Nebraska by 10 in second chance points (18 to eight) despite only grabbing three more offensive boards.

Glynn Watson Jr. finished with 21 points but shot 7-of-20 from the field and dished out just two assists with two turnovers. Isaac Copeland matched Watson with 21 of his own on 7-of-13 shooting and led the Huskers with eight rebounds. Isaiah Roby and Anton Gill added 12 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench, but the other six Huskers who logged playing time combined for 10 points.

Watson had Nebraska’s first seven points and nine of the first 11. A bucket by Copeland put the Huskers up 15-12 at the 11:14 mark, but the Huskers' offense dried up in a hurry. Penn State took control with a 9-1 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes as the Huskers shot 0-of-5 from the field and and turned the ball over twice. Nebraska’s only point came on a split pair of free throws by James Palmer Jr.

Watson hit a 3 to pull Nebraska within two at 21-19, but he missed his final four shots and turned the ball over once over the course of the final 6:41. Freshman point guard Thomas Allen came in off the bench and knocked down a 3 and a floater, but those were Nebraska’s only points after Watson’s triple. 

The Huskers went the final 2:49 without scoring as Penn State closed the half on a 7-0 run to lead 33-24 at the break.

Penn State knocked down four of its first five shots — including two 3s — and four free throws to grow the lead to 16 at 47-31. However, Isaac Copeland came alive to hit his first four shots of the half plus two freebies for 11 of Nebraska’s first 15 points. 

The Huskers used an 8-0 run to pull within eight before Mike Watkins ended the run with a free throw, but Palmer — who shot 0-of-6 in the first half — hit a jumper to pull Nebraska within seven. However, the Nittany Lions responded with a 9-3 run to extend the lead back back to 13.

Watson’s first points since that first-half 3-pointer came on a pair of bonus free throws at the 5:32 mark, capping a 6-0 run that pulled Nebraska within six. A switch to a 1-3-1 defense made a big impact for the Huskers as the Nittany Lions struggled mightily against the zone the rest of the game.

Lamar Stevens ended the run with a dunk, Penn State’s first field goal in more than four minutes, but Nebraska responded with 3-pointers by Copeland and Watson to cut it two.

Nebraska continued to baffle Penn State with its 1-3-1, forcing turnovers and missed shots, and the Huskers managed to pull even at the free-throw line at 63-all with 2:04 to play.

The Huskers forced another miss on the other end but couldn’t secure the rebound as Stevens put the Nittany Lions back up with a put-back. However, Watson hit a step-back fadeaway jumper to tie it up again and a bad pass by Penn State gave the Huskers a chance to hold for the final shot. 

Nebraska put the ball in its point guard’s hands and set a high screen for him, but the defender jumped over the top and instead of waiting for a second screen, Watson pulled up from well beyond the 3-point line with 4 seconds on the clock and missed badly. Jack McVeigh tipped the ball out but it went out of bounds with 1.4 to go. Penn State got a look but Carr couldn’t hit.

Roby hit a 3 and made a pair of free throws early in the overtime, but Penn State answered both times to tie it up. Watson split a pair of free throws to put Nebraska back up by one, but Carr scored the next four points to put the Nittany Lions up by three. 

With less than 20 seconds to play, Roby found Gill coming off a flare screen and the senior drilled the shot to tie it up. 

This time Penn State had the opportunity to go for the win, and unlike Nebraska, the Nittany Lions capitalized.

Stevens led all players with 26 points while center Mike Watkins added 20 points and 15 rebounds. Carr added 17 points and eight assists and the Nittany Lions improved to 10-1 this season when Carr finishes with four or more helpers. 

Sophomore center Jordy Tshimanga did not make the trip for the Huskers. Senior Duby Okeke started in his place and finished with a missed shot, a foul and a block in 12 minutes. 

Tanner Borchardt played 13 minutes, grabbing four rebounds and missing two free throws. Junior Jack McVeigh made his return to the floor after not appearing in the team’s last four games and he made an impact defensively protecting the paint in the 1-3-1. Roby played 28 minutes, his second-highest total of the season.

The Huskers will return to Lincoln for a pair of home games next week. On Monday, Nebraska will host Illinois at 8 p.m. and on Thursday Michigan will visit Pinnacle Bank Arena, also for an 8 p.m. tipoff.

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