A late comeback by Penn State spoiled a golden opportunity for the Nebraska basketball team to capture a road win, as the Nittany Lions posted a 58-54 win Thursday evening.
Nebraska (9-9, 1-5 B1G) led 51-47 after a Deverell Biggs basket with 2:24 left, but Penn State closed the game on an 11-3 run to earn their first conference win and hand the Huskers a stinging defeat.
The Huskers clung to a 51-50 lead, but Tim Frazier stole the ball from Biggs and found D.J. Newbill for a basket, and he was fouled on the play. Newbill, who finished with a game-high 16 points, converted the 3-point play to make it 53-31. After an errant shot on Nebraska’s next possession, John Johnson’s 3-pointer with 18 seconds left gave the Nittany Lions (10-10, 1-6) a five-point lead.
Nebraska still had chances in the final seconds, as Terran Petteway’s 3-pointer with 12 seconds left pulled the Huskers within 56-54. On the inbounds, pass, the Huskers’ pressure forced a PSU turnover, giving the Nebraska one final opportunity. The Huskers were unable to get off a shot, as the 14th turnover of the evening gave the Nittany Lions the ball before Frazier was fouled. The fifth-year senior hit both free throws to ice PSU’s first Big Ten win, as he finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Ray Gallegos joined Petteway in double figures with 10 points, as Nebraska shot just 35.8 percent. PSU shoot just 35 percent and were out-rebounded 40-35, but turned the 14 Husker miscues into 22 points.
In the first half, the Huskers did an excellent job defensively, holding the Nittany Lions to 24 percent shooting in building a 29-22 halftime lead. Early on, Ray Gallegos got the Huskers going, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give the Huskers an early 9-8 lead. The teams would trade baskets until Nebraska took control late in the half with a 10-2 spurt. Walter Pitchford’s dunk got the spurt going, while Petteway added five points in the run before Deverell Biggs’ 3-pointer gave the Huskers a 26-17 lead with 4:38 left in the half.
Penn State would fight back behind Johnson, who had 10 points off the bench for the hosts in the first half, as he scored five straight to cut the lead to 26-22, but Pitchford, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds, closed the half with a big 3-pointer to beat the buzzer.
Pitchford hit his second 3-pointer of the game to extend the Husker lead to 32-24, but Penn Stare would respond with a 7-0 run to pull within 32-31 after a Newbill jumper. The Huskers would come back with a 6-0 run of their own, as Shields’ 3-pointer – his first shot attempt of the day – ended the run, and Nebraska pushed the lead to 38-31 after a Smith tip-in with 12:28 left.
Gallegos with a jumper to extend the lead to 45-39 with 6:44 left, but Penn State would run off the next eight points, tying the score at 45 after a Taylor putback with 5:16 left and taking the lead for the first time this half on a Newbill drive with 4:19 left.
Once again, it was Shields with the big shot, as the sophomore’s 3-pointer from the corner neded the run and gave Nebraska a 48-47 lead. The Huskers pushed the lead to 51-47 after a Biggs bucket, but could not put Penn State away
The Huskers return home Sunday when they take on Minnesota. Tipoff is at 5 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena and will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and televised by BTN.
*-Terran Petteway reached double figures for the 15th straight game, the longest streak since Aleks Maric had 17 straight spanning the 2006-07 and 2007-08 season.
*-Shavon Shields reached double figures in rebounds for the second time in his career with 10. It is the third straight game where he has had a season-high in rebounds.
*-Penn State’s 22 points off turnovers was an opponent high for the season.
*-Nebraska lost for the first time this season when out-shooting an opponent.