This was supposed to be the year. The year that the Huskers put all the demons of Creighton Bluejay teams to rest. The year the balance of power shifted back to team wearing red, not the one wearing blue. This was the year that NU was more talented. This was the year. There was one problem with that plan. Someone forgot to tell the Jays about the plan.
It all started out like everyone expected. The arena was packed with red clad Husker fans eager for Bluejay blood. They were loud, they were active and the Huskers, just as we've grown accustomed to with this team, rose to the occasion. When the stage is big, when the lights are bright, they come to play. Terran Petteway especially showed early why he recieved all the pre-season hype, scoring 11 of the first 15 points for NU. The Huskers pushed their lead to 24-14 and the rout was on, so it seemed.
As mentioned before, however, the Jays weren't working from the same script as the Huskers and most of the 15,782 fans in the building. The Jays punched back. They went on a 10-0 run of their own sparked by poor shot selection from NU and some sharp shooting of their own. Before you know it, it was 27-26 and the Huskers needed Petteway to make a play at the end of the half to regain the lead and take it into the half, 28-27.
The Huskers after regrouping at the halftime break, jumped out to a five point lead, but with 12:26 remaining in the game, Isaiah Zierden hit a three to give the Jays the lead for good. The Huskers were never able to mount enough of a charge to retake the lead, letting their instate rival walk away with the victory for the fourth straight year and 13th in their last 17 meetings. The Huskers drew the game back to within a point several times, but couldn't get a defensive stop when it counted or convert on the offensive end.
The back breaker came with 1:06 left. The Jays led 58-53 and after a great defensive possession, the Huskers found themselves defending an inbound right under the CU goal and only 6 seconds remaining on the clock. Both teams were using a small lineup, but on the dead ball, the Jays substituted their best post player, Will Artino. NU did not sub in Walter Pitchford or Moses Abraham to defend him. The Jays easily lobbed in a pass to Artino, who laid it in to give the Jays a seven point lead. On the next possession, Benny Parker was caught with his foot on the boundary, turning it back over to Jays. The game was all but over at the realization was taking root, this was not the year.
For one more year, the Huskers will have to hear about how the Jays are the best team in the state. For one more year, they'll have to live with the fact that little brother will have the bragging rights. For one more year they will have to live with the reality that the Jays will not hand over the power in this state without a fight. Maybe next year the Huskers will finally wrest that away from the boys in blue, but this year, the Jays will keep flying high.