Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Tominaga’s Big Day Leads Nebraska to Blowout Win Against Boston College

November 30, 2022

Seven-and-a-half minutes into Nebraska’s game against Boston College on Wednesday, Keisei Tominaga caught his defender with his head turned and hit him with a back-cut. Wilhelm Breidenbach found Tominaga cutting for a tough layup.

At that point, Tominaga knew he was in for a big night. It was his first shot attempt, but it went in, and that’ll he needed.

“If I make my first shot, I can get going so easily,” Tominaga said after the Huskers’ 88-67 blowout win in their final ACC/Big Ten Challenge match-up.

Tominaga went on to tie his career-high of 23 points, shooting 7-of-8 from the field including 4-of-5 from deep and 5-of-5 from the foul line as the Huskers ran away from the Eagles in the second half.

“The kid plays with so much passion and heart and it’s fun to see him when he gets it going like that …” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I was really happy with how our guys read actions tonight, whether they came off and had clean looks or went through Derrick where he had a little ISO at the elbow. But 21 assists is huge … This team is playing very unselfish basketball right now and if we continue with that trend, we’re going to have a chance most nights.”

Tominaga was one of five Huskers who finished in double figures as Nebraska shot 61.5% from the field and made a season-high 12 3-pointers on 23 attempts (52.2%). The Cornhuskers (5-3) assisted on 21 of their 32 field goals and outscored Boston College (5-3) in the paint, 40 to 28. The Huskers scored a season-best 1.467 points per possession.

C.J. Wilcher shot 4-of-7 from deep and scored 14 points to finish second behind Tominaga.

“We need Keisei to get going every time that he can,” Emmanuel Bandoumel said. “He’s one of the top shooters on our team with C.J. and as soon as they can get going it makes the offense so much easier because the ball is going in, so now we’ve got to worry about defense. With them putting the ball in the basket, it relieves so much for us, it just gets us going on defense. It’s just that energy that we use.” 

Bandoumel scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (1-of-3 from deep) and 3-of-3 from the foul line with six assists (tying his career-high) and six rebounds. Derrick Walker scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in just 18 minutes. Juwan Gary chipped in 10 points and four boards as well. Sam Griesel attempted just four shots, adding eight points including a 3-pointer, six assists and three steals.

The first half saw some wild runs as Nebraska jumped out to a 13-7 lead, then Boston College countered with a 10-2 run to take the lead.

Tominaga hit a 3 to get Nebraska’s offense jump-started, triggering a personal 11-5 run with points coming in a variety of ways to give the Huskers a 26-22 lead.

“I think he hit the free throws and then he hit a 3 shortly thereafter, and then he knew he had it going,” Hoiberg said. “He drove by his guy and hit the little floater. He’s got his bag of tricks. He got in there and threw the floater off above the square. He’s got a deceptively quick release. And again,  when you can get yourself to the free-throw line like he did, that’s that’s a huge confidence-builder. I credit our guys for finding him, for getting him the ball when he had it going. It’s a great sign of an unselfish team.”

CJ Penha Jr. countered with his own 11-2 run, scoring nine himself and finding a teammate for a layup, to give the Eagles a 33-27 lead.

Bandoumel got the Huskers back on track with a bucket at the rim, sparking a 10-1 run to end the half and give Nebraska a 37-34 lead at the break.

Tominaga went 5-for-5 from both the field and the free-throw line with a pair of triples for 17 first-half points. Walker played just six minutes after picking up two early fouls, but Blaise Keita picked up the slack with five points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a charge drawn in 11 minutes.

“We want Blaise to do that,” Bandoumel said. “We want Blaise to be physical. He’s got a big body and we want him to make people feel him. It’s really funny because I told him that literally yesterday in the car when we’re driving to go to the cafe, I told him ‘Blaise, they’ve got to feel you every time that you’re on the court. On cuts, screens, rebounds, defensively, and he did exactly that — defensively, taking charges, getting offensive rebounds, on screens getting Keisei wide open and stuff like that. Just as much as he is doing stuff for our team like Derrick is doing, it’s different, but he does so much and it helps us so much on the court defensively and offensively.”

Boston College, who entered the game shooting 28.4% from 3 and making 4.1 triples per game, went 5-for-10 from deep in the first half and shot 48% overall.

Walker opened the second half with a layup, then Bandoumel knocked down a 3-pointer to extend the run to 15-1, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Eagles missed 12 of their first 13 shots of the second half as Nebraska outscored the Eagles 24-4 to build a 23-point advantage.

“For us, it really started the last media [timeout] of the first half,” Bandoumel said. “That’s where we really came out of the timeout and we were like, ‘They’re on the run right now; let’s shut down that run and get on a run ourselves. I think that’s where it really started, and came into the halftime and said ‘Hey, we’ve got that same energy, let’s keep it the whole 20 minutes. It’s a new 20 minutes; let’s win this 20 minutes too.”

The lead never dipped below 20 the rest of the way and peaked at 28 a couple of times before Nebraska cruised to the finish. Redshirt freshman Oleg Kojenets split a pair of free throws in the final minute to score his first career point.

Nebraska shot 67.9% from the field including 9-of-13 from 3 with 14 assists on 19 buckets in the second half. Wilcher scored all 14 of his points in the second half, accounting for four of those nine 3-pointers. The Eagles shot 41.4% with most of their buckets coming in the last 10 minutes after the game had already been decided.

With the win, Nebraska finishes 6-6 in is ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups. Th ACC won the 24th and final edition of the event, topping the Big Ten 8-6.

The road gets considerably more difficult for Nebraska moving forward with three top-10 opponents waiting. First up is No. 7 Creighton in Omaha on Sunday. 

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