LINCOLN, Neb. – In a season that has seen Nebraska host the likes of Ohio State and Michigan, which opponent helped the seven-month old Pinnacle Bank Arena secure its largest basketball crowd Saturday afternoon?
You guessed it. The Northwestern Wildcats.
Northwestern (12-17, 5-11 Big Ten) fell to Nebraska (17-11, 9-7 Big Ten), 54-47, in a low-scoring affair.
Alex Olah led the way for the Wildcats with a game-high 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 14 points in the second half. His seven rebounds were also a team-high. It was the second straight game in which Olah has led the team in scoring and rebounding, following up his first double-double of the season against Indiana Feb. 22.
Olah’s stellar play on offense was not enough for the Wildcats, who dropped their sixth straight game. The Big Ten’s worst shooting team saw its offensive woes continue, as Northwestern shot just 33.3 percent from the field. Seven of the team’s 15 field goals came from beyond the arc, which composed 60 percent of the team’s 45 field goal attempts.
Drew Crawford struggled offensively but still managed to score 11 points off a 4-for-13 shooting performance. Tre Demps led all scorers with eight points at the half but scored just two points in the second half. Nebraska’s Shevon Shields was the Cornhuskers’ high-man, recording a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
For the most part, the Wildcats played well defensively. They limited the Cornhuskers to 54 points—about nine points less than the team’s points-scored-against average— as well as a 36.5 field goal percentage. However, Nebraska outrebounded Northwestern, 40 to 29. 13 of those boards were on the offensive end, creating second-chance opportunities for the Cornhuskers. Northwestern’s inability to convert turnovers into points also played a key role in their loss. Northwestern forced 10 turnovers but scored just five points off them. In comparison, Nebraska scored 10 points off nine Northwestern turnovers.
The Wildcats will return to Welsh-Ryan Arena Thursday for their final home game of the season against Penn State. Crawford, Nikola Cerina and James Montgomery III will be honored before their last game as Northwestern players. The Nittany Lions hope to play spoiler and extend the Wildcats’ losing streak. Though they are just 5-10 in the Big Ten, Penn State has scored a pair of upsets against Ohio State. Tip-off for the game is 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPNU.