Evanston, Ill. – Nebraska’s comeback fell short in Evanston Sunday afternoon, as the Huskers fell at Northwestern, 65-54, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Nebraska (14-17, 6-11 Big Ten) trimmed a 20-point deficit to 55-49 with 4:03 remaining after a pair of Shavon Shields free throws, but could not get closer, as the Wildcats held on down the stretch.
With the loss, the Huskers will play Rutgers Wednesday evening in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, while Northwestern (20-11, 8-10) Big Ten) earned the nine seed and a first-round bye behind the play of seniors Alex Olah and Tre Demps, who combined for 36 points.
Demps finished with 17 points, including seven in a 13-0 first-half run to give the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish, while Olah had 19 points and eight rebounds, hitting 7-of-10 shots from the field. Olah provided the biggest bucket for the hosts, as his 17-foot jumper ended a 9-2 Husker spurts after NU cut the deficit to its smallest margin since midway through the first half.
Tia Webster and Andrew White III led NU with 13 points apiece, while Shavon Shields added 11 in a losing effort, as Nebraska shot just 35 percent and was out-rebounded 40-26.
In the second half, Nebraska cut the deficit to 13 early in the second half on Benny Parker’s layup on NU’s first possession, but the Wildcats ran off six straight points in push the lead to 19 at 43-24. Nebraska responded with a 7-2 run to pull within 14 after an Andrew White III jumper.
Trailing 49-35, Webster keyed a 5-0 Husker spurt with a 3-pointer and a basket to pull the Huskers to within 49-40 with 8:18 left. The Wildcats pushed the lead to 12 after, at 55-43, but Shields and Webster combined for six straight points to pull NU within six with 4:03remaining.
In the first half, the Huskers struggled offensively shooting 33 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 19-11 as the Huskers trailed 37-22 at the break.
Nebraska led 11-9 after a Glynn Watson Jr. at the 13:19 mark, but the Wildcats went on a 13-0 run behind Tre Demps, who had seven Northwestern points in the surge, as the Wildcats built a 22-11 lead after a Scottie Lindsey basket with 8:54 left in the half.
Demps and Alex Olah combined for 20 first-half points for the Wildcats, who shot 54 percent in the first half
Nebraska was within 24-15 but the Wildcats broke open the game with a 10-0 spurt, building a 34-15 lead after a Sanjay Lumpkin 3-pointer.
Nebraska started to trim away at the deficit behind Shavon Shields, who scored five of his six first-half points in the final minute, as his 3-pointer capped a 5-0 spurt by the Huskers to end the half.
The Huskers will take on Rutgers in Wednesday’s first round game at 6 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised on BTN and carried on the IMG Husker Sports Network.