Pete Nance hits 1,000 career points in senior night win over Minnesota

By Margaret Fleming

On Sunday night, Pete Nance put on a Northwestern jersey for the last time in Welsh-Ryan, laced up his shoes and scored his 1,000th career point as a Wildcat. He became the 38th player in program history to achieve that goal. Not a bad senior night for the kid from Akron, Ohio.

Northwestern (14-15, 6-13 Big Ten) honored Nance, Ryan Greer and Elyjah Williams in its last game of the regular season, a 75-62 win over Minnesota (13-16, 4-16 Big Ten).

Nance and Robbie Beran led the ‘Cats with 19 and 15 points, respectively. They both shot 3-4 from three-point range. Nance also had 13 rebounds, three blocks and three assists.

“It’s really rewarding,” Nance said. “There’s been a lot of people that have helped me along the way in my four years here and I think of that as ‘our 1,000 points.’”

The ‘Cats gained momentum and a nine-point lead early in the matchup following back-to-back threes from Nance and Beran. The streak continued as a couple of buckets from Ryan Young and a 6-0 run from Beran gave the ‘Cats a 27-9 advantage midway through the first half.

The ‘Cats shot 6-12 from three-point range during the first half before slowing down offensively, with a field goal drought more than two and a half minutes long. Young carried during this stretch with three free throws and a layup.

The point differential remained around 15 for most of the first half, but Jamison Battle kept the Golden Gophers in the game with 11 points before the break. Nance hit another three to close out the half, giving the ‘Cats a 46-26 lead shooting 7-14 from behind the arc.

Battle opened the half with some heat, scoring another seven points in the first five minutes out of the locker room. Northwestern fell into a four-minute-long scoring drought while Minnesota went on an 8-0 run, bringing the lead down to eleven.

Williams nailed his fourth three-pointer of the season to break the cold streak.

“[Williams] really has a good IQ to him. He’s a basketball guy, he’s an outgoing personality, so all of those things will really help us as we go to the [Big Ten Tournament],” said head coach Chris Collins.

Minnesota continued with some offensive momentum as Northwestern endured another four-minute-long scoreless stretch. Nance dropped jaws at Welsh-Ryan with an impressive block on a dunk attempt from Sean Sutherlin, then another block on the inbounds play.

The Golden Gophers went on a quick 6-0 run in 1:07 to bring the lead down to eight with just under four minutes remaining. Buie hit his free throws to extend the lead to ten before Nance delivered another nasty block, his third of the game.

Pete Nance then scored his 1,000th career point on a layup off a dish from Buie (eight assists, 10 points). Welsh-Ryan erupted in applause as the announcement came over the loudspeaker at the next timeout.

Beran said he was so excited when his teammate hit 1,000, and said no one deserves the celebration more than Nance.

“When I came in, [Pete and I] were kind of pitted against each other. We weren’t supposed to like each other,” Beran said. The junior said that the competition has only brought them closer.

In the final minutes, the ‘Cats held the lead around 10, taking their time with Minnesota’s full-court press. The Gophers committed several intentional fouls to stop the clock and send the ‘Cats to the free-throw line.

Collins called timeout to get standing ovations for Nance and Greer. He said he was proud of both of them and the young men they are becoming. He called Greer the team’s “Mr. Steady.”

“[Greer’s] starting to believe he’s as good as I believe he is,” Collins said.

No. 12-seeded Northwestern will take on No. 13-seeded Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday night at 5 p.m. CT in Indianapolis. Nebraska upset No. 10-ranked and partial B1G regular-season champ, Wisconsin, Sunday afternoon in a 74-73 thriller.

“They’ve always been dangerous,” Collins said about Nebraska. “It’s gonna be a tough task but it’s a great challenge for our guys.”

WNUR Sports will have that game for you on Mixlr with Pat Timlin and Ben Moskow on the call.