Charleston, S.C. – Despite a career-high 30 points from sophomore Terran Petteway, Nebraska suffered its first loss of the season, dropping a 96-90 decision to UMass Thursday afternoon at the Charleston Classic.
Petteway, a sophomore transfer from Texas Tech, paced five Huskers in double figures with 30 points, including 11-of-12 from the foul line, to pace five Nebraska players in double figures in a game which saw both teams combine for 81 free throws.
Nebraska, which had three of its starters saddled with four fouls at the 15-minute mark of the second half, nearly overcame a 13-point deficit down the stretch. Nebraska trailed 80-67 with 8:24 left, but the Huskers went on a 20-7 spurt to pull within 89-87 with 1:44 left after a pair of Tai Webster free throws.
The Huskers (3-1) then had a chance to tie in the final 30 seconds after Webster’s basket made it 93-90. After a timeout, Benny Parker and Tai Webster forced a Minuteman turnover under its basket, but Nebraska was unable to convert, missing a pair of shots before UMass got the rebound. UMass (4-0) put the game away at the foul line, as Derrick Gordon split a pair from the line before Chaz Williams hit two free throws with seven seconds left for the final margin.
Gordon led six UMass players in double figures with 22 points, as the Minutemen shot 50 percent from the floor and went 33-of-43 from the foul line. NU did a good job of controlling Williams, as the two-time All-Atlantic-10 point guard had just 10 points and three assists.
Nebraska’s bench joined Petteway in keeping the Huskers in the contest, as Leslee Smith had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in 27 minutes, while David Rivers had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and a career-high four steals.
UMass got off to a quick start, opening the game with an 11-3 spurt to take an eight point before the Huskers fought back behind the play of Shavon Shield and Petteway. Shields scored five straight points, as the Huskers outscored UMass 18-7 to take a 21-18 lead after a Smith putback.
The Minutemen came right back, using a 10-2 spurt behind the play of Sampson Carter, who scored six of his nine points to help stake UMass a 28-22 lead. Nebraska fell behind by as many as eight points, at 32-24, before Petteway and Rivers led Nebraska back. The pair combined for all 13 points in a 13-4 run as Nebraska took a 37-36 lead after a Petteway free throw. Nebraska led 39-38 after a Smith basket, but a Cody LaLanne basket a pair of free throws from Seth Berger put UMass ahead 42-39 at the break.
Nebraska’s slow start to the second half proved costly, as UMass scored six straight points to take a 48-39 lead after a Williams 3-pointer. More importantly, the Huskers got in foul trouble, as Walter Pitchford, Shields and Petteway all got into foul trouble in the opening five minutes of the half. NU trailed 60-49 with 14:59 left with all three starters on the sideline with four fouls.
Nebraska’s bench proved valuable at that point, as NU was also without Ray Gallegos, who suffered an injury early in the second half. Smith hit two quick baskets while Deverell Biggs and David Rivers kept the Huskers within shouting distance. Pitchford’s 3-pointer with 11:13 left cut the deficit to 70-65, but the sophomore would foul out on UMass’ next possession. That play began 7-0 spurt which put the Huskers in a 13-point hole.
The Huskers will continue tournament play Friday at 11 a.m. (Central) against UAB, which lost 97-94 in double overtime to New Mexico. The game will be on ESPN3 and on the Husker Sports Radio Network.
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles
On if this was the pace you wanted to play at?
“No. I didn’t want it to be that high scoring, but it was the way the game dictated itself. We had to come back and needed quicker possessions, and we needed to be on the attack. Ultimately, we fouled too much and we didn’t get enough rebounds and defensive stops. I thought we forced them into tough shots, but we weren’t physical enough to go in and end possessions. That is what cost us the game. We kept fighting back. I commend our guys for fighting back and had good look to cut it to one late, but so many of those mistakes happened and we were unable to manage foul trouble or get big enough to get those defensive stops.”
On the slow start to each half
“They were more aggressive and we were a little slow. They are an aggressive group and they are a veteran group and they took advantage of us that way. Hopefully, it is a lesson learned and we can come out ready tomorrow.”
*-The 90 points marked Nebraska’s highest total since scoring 94 against Southern Utah on Dec. 29, 2009.
*-Nebraska has scored 80 or more points in each of the last two games, the first time that happened for the Huskers since Jan. 3-5, 2009 (vs. Maryland Eastern Shore and Florida A&M)
*-Terran Petteway’s 28 points were a career high and matched the most points scored by a Husker this season (Shavon Shields vs. Florida Gulf Coast). His previous season/career high was 17 points in the opener.
*-Leslee Smith posted his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. It is the first double-double by a Husker this year. Smith also had a career-high three blocked shots. Smith now has been in double figures in each of the last three games.
*-Nebraska has put five players in double figures in each of the last two games (South Carolina State/UMass)
*-Nebraska had 33 bench points in the loss, including double-figure efforts by Leslee Smith and David Rivers. The Husker bench has scored 84 points over the last two contests.
*-The 96 points allowed marked the most allowed by Nebraska since allowing 96 to Kansas on Jan. 21, 2006.
*-Last time Nebraska scored 90 points and lost, 105-91 loss at Texas on Jan. 21, 1998. Nebraska had won 14 straight games with scoring 90 or more points before today’s loss to UMass