Lincoln – Tai Webster’s jumper with 14 seconds left lifted the Red squad to a 39-37 victory in the Red/White Scrimmage at Pinnacle Bank Arena Friday evening.
Webster, a freshman from Auckland, New Zealand, hit a jumper to break the deadlock in front of 7,500 fans in the Huskers’ first event at Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $179 million dollar facility in the Haymarket District of Lincoln.
Webster, who finished with eight points and three assists in 21 minutes, was one of three newcomers who paced the victorious Red squad. Leslee Smith had a team-high nine points, while freshman Nick Fuller added eight points and four rebounds. Senior guard Ray Gallegos also chipped nine eight points, including a pair of three-pointers.
Sophomore transfer Walter Pitchford led all scorers with 10 points and added five rebounds for the White squad, while sophomore Sergej Vucetic added six points in a losing effort.
The event featured commentary from Nebraska Coach Tim Miles, who roamed the court with a microphone talking with fans, players and coaches during the first half after introducing the team to a thunderous ovation from the crowd on hand. The first half featured a 15-minute running clock while the second half was a 10-minute running clock.
The only damper on a festive opening night came late in the first half when sophomore Shavon Shields landed awkwardly after being fouled on a fast break. Shields went to the locker room, but returned for the second half, but did not play.
Fans also took advantage of a special promotion announced when the gates opened to purchase discounted tickets to the Bon Jovi at Pinnacle Bank Arena in October.
The Huskers, who opened practice for the 2013-14 season earlier Friday return to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Monday, Nov. 4, when they take on Nebraska-Kearney at 7 p.m.
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles
On Shavon Shields
“I think he is alright. First of all he got the wind knocked out of him, which is scarier than heck. But you know his tailbone is a little bit sore, we will get him in a cold tub. We will see about tomorrow, If it hurts him tomorrow, we will hold him out. It’s an unfortunate thing, everyone was getting fired up and decided we are going to try and block someone above the rim. It took the air out of the gym for a while but I think the guys bounced back and I think it was a fun night overall. No question about it.”
On if the team adjusted to the arena
“We practiced (at the arena) earlier, which is good because we shot 1/5th as many threes which is what I like. It was time for them to play and have fun, but playing in the arena, with the crowd—which I thought was really good. I really love the setup, it sounds great, looks great, the guys love it. I just think it will take some time to get adjusted.”
On how much fun it was tonight
“It was awesome, it was really a lot of fun. It was just cool, that intro with Bon Jovi allowing us to put our stuff in there, I think they did a promotion with tickets—I am cool with that. It was a really cool gesture by them. Can’t say enough about that. Just that whole energy factor was certainly, I thought pout able energy in there that is certainly different.”
Senior Guard Ray Gallegos
On what the crowd meant to the team
“It shows that they have faith in us this year, and they are expecting a lot of us. We are just going to continue to work hard and hopefully have a good year.”