Behind a career-high 29 points from freshman Shavon Shields, Nebraska snapped a five-game losing streak with a 68-64 win over Penn State Saturday afternoon.
Shields enjoyed a career afternoon in front of the national television audience, hitting 10-of-11 shots from the field and going 8-for-8 from the foul line, as he eclipsed his career high for the second straight game. His 29 points against the Nittany Lions was one off Nebraska’s freshman record for points, and the 6-foot-6 forward added six rebounds.
Shields was one of three Huskers in double figures, as Ray Gallegos had 15 points while Brandon Ubel had 12 points and six rebounds after missing the last two games with an elbow injury.
The Huskers (10-9, 1-5 Big Ten) won the game at the foul line, going a perfect 16-of-16, while Penn State (8-10, 0-6 Big Ten) was 15-of-24 from the line, but just 1-of-6 in in a wacky final minute of action.
Nebraska led 66-60 after a pair of Shields free throws with 1:19 left, but Jermaine Marshall’s 3-pointer with 32 seconds left cut the lead to three. NU had a turnover on the inbounds, and Ross Travis was fouled with 24 seconds left. After a lengthy review, the officials also called a flagrant foul on Ubel, putting Penn State in a position to win with four free throw attempts and possession. Newbill made the first shot to get PSU within 66-64, but missed the second while Travis missed both of his shots to keep NU ahead.
On PSU’s subsequent possession, Marshall was fouled, but missed both attempts from the foul line, and NU got the rebound. Brandon Ubel was fouled and hit both free throws to extend the lead to four. The senior then put the game away, as he swatted Newbill’s layup into the stands before a desperation three-point attempt was off the mark.
The Huskers overcame a slow start from the floor to open the game and took a 33-28 lead into the locker room at the break. NU missed its first nine shots from the floor and fell behind 7-0, only to hit 14 of their last 21 attempts in leading by as many as 10 points in the first half.
Shields continued his strong play with 13 points in the half, hitting all six shots from the field, while Gallegos added 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. After the slow start, Shields keyed the Husker comeback with a pair of baskets, as Nebraska scored the next 10 points to take a three-point lead after a David Rivers layup.
The Huskers took control late in the first half, as Gallegos keyed a 13-3 run to push the Huskers’ lead to double figures. Gallegos started the run with consecutive 3-pointers and had eight of his 10 first-half points in the spurt. NU led 33-25 in the final seconds before Kevin Montminy hit a long 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and put Penn State within five at the break.
Nebraska led 35-31 early in the half before the Huskers ran off six straight points to take its largest lead of the half at 41-31 on a Shields basket with 15:06 left. Penn State would respond, as 3-pointers from Nick Colella and Marshall sparked a 12-0 spurt for the hosts, which put Penn State up 43-31 on a Ross Travis putback with 11:56 left
Shields finally ended the Huskers’ scoring drought with a 3-point play with 11:27 left before two Ubel free throws gave NU a three-point lead at 46-43. The lead would go back and forth until Marshall hit three free throws to put the Nittany Lions up 52-48 with 8:11 left.
Nebraska would clamp down on the defensive end, holding PSU without a field goal for a span of 6:31 while Shields single-handedly took over the game for the Huskers. The freshman scored seven straight points to put NU up 55-52 before baskets by Talley and Gallegos staked Nebraska a 59-52 advantage with 4:16 left.
PSU made a run, closing to within 61-58 after a Marshall 3-point play with 2:21 left, but Gallegos answered right back with a 3-pointer from the wing to make it a six-point lead with 2:04 left, setting up a hectic finish.
The Huskers will return home to take on No. 23 Illinois Tuesday night at the Devaney Center. Tip-off time is set for 7:30