Huskers drop below .500 after 56-55 loss to Penn State

Nebraska dropped below .500 after a close 56-55 loss to Penn State on the road.


State College, Pa. – Nebraska erased an 18-point second half deficit, but Shep Garner’s free throw with 7.2 seconds left broke a 55-all tie, as the Huskers fell at Penn State 56-55 on Thursday evening.

The Huskers (14-15, 6-10 Big Ten) had an opportunity to steal a road win, but Shavon Shields jumper at the buzzer was off the mark, as Penn State (15-13, 6-9 Big Ten) held on for the victory.

Shields, who had missed the last four games following a concussion, was outstanding in his return with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting, but was the only Husker to finish in double figures.

Penn State was held to 39 percent shooting, but hit 11 3-pointers in picking up the victory, including five each from Brandon Taylor and Garner.  Taylor finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Garner led PSU with 22 points.

Nebraska trailed 44-26 with 14:03 left before regrouping.  Nebraska used a 9-0 run, including five points from Glynn Watson Jr., to pull within 44-35 with just over 10 minutes left. PSU stretched the lead back to 12, at 53-41 after a Garner 3 before Nebraska’s defense changed the pace.

NU did not allow a field goal in the final 6:55 and used a 14-2 surge to pull even at 55-all after a pair of Michael Jacobson free throws with 50.3 seconds left.

PSU got a chance for the final shot after a Husker foul with 23 seconds left. PSU put the ball in Garner’s hands and he was fouled with just over seven seconds left. He hit the first one to give the Nittany Lions the lead, but missed the second to give NU a final chance.

Nebraska was within 31-24 after a Benny Parker jumper 17:47 left, but Penn State run off five straight to build a 36-24 lead and force a Husker timeout. The run would get to 11-0, as the Nittany Lions built an 18-point lead after a Donovon Jack 3-point play at 42-24.

`Nebraska struggled to find a rhythm offensively in the first half, as Nebraska shot just 30 percent in the first half and trailed 28-20. Shields carried NU’s offense with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting while no other Husker had more than three points.

After falling behind early, Nebraska went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 lead after an Andrew White jumper with 13:58 left in the half. The lead would be short-lived as Penn ran off seven straight points to build a 15-9 lead after a Brandon Taylor basket with 8:20 left in the half.

Shields then keyed a spurt, scoring seven points as the Huskers pulled to within 18-16 with 4:38 left in the half, as the senior scored on consecutive baskets.

Taylor and Garner, who combined for 23 of the Nittany Lions’ 28 points, keyed a 10-4 spurt to close the half. Garner scored seven straight points, including a 3-pointer with 2:14 left in the half before a Benny Parker jumper made it an eight-point deficit at the half.

The Huskers return home for Senior Night next Tuesday, March 1, when NU plays host to nationally ranked Purdue. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be carried by the IMG Husker Sports Network and televised on BTN. A limited number of tickets are available by visiting or calling 800-8-BIGRED during business hours.

Quick Notes
*-Tai Webster made his first Big Ten start of 2015-16, as Glynn Watson Jr. had been under the weather. Webster finished with seven points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. 

*-Ed Morrow Jr. finished with a career-high four blocked shots in his first game since Feb. 6. Morrow’s previous high was three against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 24. Morrow finished with two rebounds and four blocked shots in 12 minutes.

*-Shields now has seven 20-point games on the season following his 25-point effort.

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