Walter Pitchford led four Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska improved to 2-0 on the season with a 62-47 win over Western Illinois Tuesday night.
Pitchford, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, totaled a game-high 14 points, including a trip of 3-pointers, to pace the Big Red. Sophomores Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway added 13 apiece, while Leslee Smith came off the bench with 10 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Petteway nearly recorded a double-double, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes, as Nebraska had a 34-30 advantage on the glass and forced 15 Leatherneck turnovers.
Pitchford and Smith keyed a decisive first-half run, as the Huskers (2-0) used a 23-7 spurt to seize momentum and build a 17-point first-half cushion. Leading 8-7 after a 7-0 WIU run, Smith came off the bench for two quick baskets and a pair of free throws to stake the Huskers a 16-9 lead. Moments later, Pitchford’s conversional 3-point play started a run of eight straight points for the Florida transfer as his second 3-pointer of the half pushed the lead to 13 points at 24-11.
A 3-pointer from Jabari Sandifer stopped the run for the Leathernecks, but baskets by Benny Parker and Shavon Shields sandwiched between a Pitchford 3-pointer put the Huskers up 31-14 and the Huskers took a 19-point lead into the locker room.
Nebraska shot 56 in the first half, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while holding Western Illinois (0-2) to 32 percent in the half and 38 percent on the night, including 4-of-19 from long range.
Petteway carried the Huskers in a sluggish second half, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the final 20 minutes, as Nebraska cooled off after halftime. Despite shooting just 32 percent in the second half, the Huskers led by as many as 23 points on several occasions, the last being at 58-35 with 4:56 remaining after a Petteway 3-point play, and cruised to a 15-point win.
The Huskers return to action Sunday afternoon as they take on South Carolina State. Tipoff at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be carried on the Husker Sports Radio Network and shown online on the Big Ten Digital Network.
*-Tim Miles collected his 300th career win tonight. He is now 300-238 in 19 seasons as a head coach.
*-Sophomore transfer Walter Pitchford finished with a career-high 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Pitchford has hit at least two 3-pointers in each of his first two games.
*-Shavon Shields reached double figures for the fourth straight game dating back to last season, finishing with 13 points in the victory.
*-Nebraska has not trailed in either game this season, as both of its first two games came against teams which reached the postseason in 2012-13.