A quick start leads to a much-needed NU win over Nebraska
By Ashley Tumpowsky
The Northwestern men’s basketball team (13-13, 6-11) came out red hot on its home court at Welsh-Ryan Arena, notching a 77-65 win over Nebraska (7-20, 1-15). But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
Early in the matchup, the ‘Cats established their ability to hit shots on offense, getting out to a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. A struggling Nebraska defense left the Wildcats open for uncontested shots and easy buckets. Northwestern star players Pete Nance, Chase Audige and Boo Buie established their rhythm quickly and contributed 50 of Northwestern’s final 77 points as a trio. Chris Collins’ offense as a whole was running like a well-oiled machine, moving the ball efficiently to find the open player. However, despite the quick success, a Nebraska run at the end of the first half cut the NU lead back to just six points.
Within two minutes after halftime, the ‘Cats quickly found their footing once again and expanded their lead to double-digits. Nance and Bouie led the run with an array of three-pointers and layups. Nance was left open on two consecutive possessions early in the second half and nailed both from beyond the arc to boost his team, which was just what the ‘Cats needed.
But following a similar script for the Wildcats this season, the team struggled to fully pull away as the game neared the end. Sloppy play at times for Northwestern and a final desperate push from the Cornhuskers allowed Nebraska to cut a once 21-point lead in the second half to only nine with less than two minutes remaining. Fortunately, the ‘Cats were able to hold on to their lead in this one, hitting free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Overall, it was a great all-around effort for the Wildcats as they bounced back after a sub-par performance losing at Minnesota. In the end, the team shot 50% from the field and 40% from three-point range, and held Nebraska to only 65 points in the contest. Northwestern should use this win as momentum for the final games of the regular season and a push for a potential postseason appearance in the NIT tournament.
The ‘Cats take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in State College on Friday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. CT before moving on to face No. 25 Iowa and Minnesota to close out the Big Ten regular season.