Orlando, Fla. – Glynn Watson Jr. had a season-high 26 points and six steals to lead four Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska earned fifth place in the AdvoCare Invitational with an 85-80 win over Long Beach State Sunday afternoon.
Watson keyed a Husker attack that jumped out to a 22-point lead and held on down the stretch, as the junior clinched the victory with a pair of free throws with 1.3 seconds left after the 49ers pulled to within 83-80.
Anton Gill had 16 points off the bench while Isaac Copeland and James Palmer Jr., added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Nebraska shot 47 percent, but went 7-of-16 from beyond the arc and 14-of-18 from the foul line. NU hit 8-of-10 from the line in the final two minutes to preserve the win.
Nebraska’s defensive was opportunistic, forcing 21 turnovers, including 16 steals. Watson’s six steals was the most by a Husker since 2012, while Evan Taylor matched his personal best with four steals and dished out a career-high six assists. In all, NU had 21 assists, including 17 in the first half to build a 49-40 halftime lead.
Nebraska hit 58 percent from the field in the first half, including 5-of-10 from 3-point, while dishing out 17 assists on 21 baskets. Watson had 16 first-half points, four assists and three steals in the opening 20 minutes, while Gill had 10 points in 13 minutes off the bench.
Nebraska picked up where it left off on Friday, hitting eight of its first 10 shots from the floor in a game-opening 19-9 run. Watson keyed the fast start with nine quick points, hitting all four of his shots from the field, three steals and a blocked shot in the first five-plus minutes of action.
Nebraska kept the ball movement going, using a 7-0 spurt to extend the lead to 28-13 on a Watson basket with 10:49 left the half.
Long Beach pulled to within 30-19 after a 3-pointer from Jordan Griffin, but the Huskers scored eight straight points in a 50-second span, including five straight from Gill to push the lead to 38-19 and force a Long Beach timeout.
Nebraska eventually pushed the lead to 21, but NU’s frontline battled foul trouble, as Duby Okeke had three first-half fouls while Jordy Tshimanga was limited to 10 minutes with a pair of fouls. In addition, Isaiah Roby suffered an ankle injury in the first half and was out for the rest of the game.
Long Beach State closed the half on a 14-3 spurt to cut 20-point to 49-40, as Gabe Levin had six of his 12 first-half points in the 49ers run.
Nebraska seemingly took control in the opening minutes of the second half, as Taylor and Copeland combined for 10 points in a 13-0 run to give NU 62-40 lead.
The 49ers would not go away, responding with a 9-0 run of their own to pull with 62-49 after a Deishaun Booker basket to force a Husker timeout.
Nebraska stretched the lead to 15, at 68-53 after a pair of Watson buckets, but the 49ers kept battling. LBSU ran off 10 straight points to pull within 68-63 with 7:19 left after a Deishun Booker putback. Gabe Levin, who had 22 points and 16 rebounds to pave LBSU, got to within 73-69 with just under five minutes remaining, but freshman Thomas Allen hit a short jumper and added a pair of free throws to push the lead back to eight, at 77-69 with 3:16 left.
Nebraska led 81-73 with 39.8 seconds left when the 49ers made their last charge, using a 7-2 run to pull within 83-80 on a 3-pointer by Jordan Griffin with 3.4 seconds left, but Watson was fouled on the inbounds and hit both shots from the line for the final margin.
The Huskers return to Lincoln on Wednesday evening, as they take on Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tipoff is set for 8:15 p.m. and tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets or calling 800-8-BIGRED beginning Monday morning.