Missed free throws doom Huskers in loss to Northwestern
Haanif Cheatham had a team-high 20 points, while freshman Yvan Ouedraogo grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and had 11 points, but it was not enough as Northwestern defeated Nebraska 81-76 in overtime at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Nebraska, which overcame a six-point deficit with 4:54 remaining before Cheatham led the Huskers on an 11-2 run, scoring eight points before Cam Mack's layup with 1:19 remaining put Nebraska up 67-65. On the Wildcats' next possession, Pat Spencer tied the game with a pair of free throw with 47 seconds remaining in regulation. The Huskers had a chance to win in regulation, but committed a turnover and Northwestern was unable to get the go-ahead basket before the buzzer.
The Wildcats seized control in the opening minutes of overtime, scoring the first seven points to take a 74-67 lead and force a Husker timeout. Nebraska rallied behind the play of Dachon Burke, who scored eight points in the extra period, including a 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining. On Northwestern's next possession, Burke stole the ball and fed Ourdraogo, who was fouled with 23.5 seconds left. Ouedraogo missed both free throws and NU was forced to foul. Ryan Young sank a pair of free throws to push the margin to four and the Huskers would get no closer.
Free throw shooting was a critical factor in the loss, as Nebraska went just 8-of-30 from the charity stripe, well under its season average of 60.6 percent. The Huskers were just 3-of-16 from the line after halftime. Northwestern went 15-of-20 from the line in the victory.
Cheatham's 20 points led four Huskers in double figures. Burke added 19, while Mack chipped in 13 to join Ouedraogo in double figures.
The Wildcats picked up their second conference victory of the season behind 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from forward Miller Kopp, who led four Northwestern players in double figures. Boo Buie paced the Wildcats with 15 points and dished out a team-high seven assists.
Ouedraogo, who played a career-high 38 minutes, finished with 19 rebounds, the most by a Husker since the 2006-07 season and most by a Husker freshman in at least three decades.
Nebraska trailed 34-37 after the first half. The Huskers were paced by Cheatham, who had 11 points and was 4-of-6 from the field, and Ouedraogo, who collected 13 rebounds in the first period. Northwestern led 23-14 after a Nance jumper at the 11:10 mark, but the Wildcats' lead never reached double digits.
Nebraska had a chance to take control early in the second half, using a 10-2 spurt to build its largest lead of the afternoon at 47-41 with 14:23 left in regulation. The Wildcats would respond with eight straight points before Jervay Green's 3-pointer ended the run. From that point on, neither team led by more than seven points the rest of the afternoon.
The Huskers return to action on Thursday night when they travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. (CT) with FS1 providing television coverage and the Learfield College IMG Husker Sports Network providing radio coverage.