Coming into the season the Huskers pinned their hopes on the backs of the three headed monster of Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford as they looked to build on the wild ride that landed them in the NCAA Tournament for the first time this century. For much of the season, only Petteway and Shields answered the call. Tonight, Pitchford reminded us all why he was part of the equation coming into the season. Relegated to the bench for the first time this year, he nearly lifted the Huskers to their biggest road win to date. Unfortunately for the Huskers, Maryland has Melo Trimble on their roster, and he was the difference between a win and a loss for NU.
Nebraska started this game in a fashion that was fairly reminiscent of many other games the Huskers have played on the road this season. Maryland jumped on the Huskers, building a 14-5 lead. NU battled back, cutting the Terrapin lead to four, 23-19. Maryland answered, however, with another run, aided by a technical foul on Petteway while he was on the bench, building their lead to 32-21. Little indicated that NU would climb their way back into this game.
Petteway ended the Maryland charge with a three-pointer of his own, starting a 14-2 run for the Huskers to close out the half only down two at the break. The Husker run was aided by two lay-ups from Nick Fuller to close out the half, who saw a career-high in minutes played. Petteway didn’t come near his scoring average of 18.7 points per game, but he still had a huge impact on the offense. Petteway set a career-high in assists, helping put his teammates in position to win nine times.
The Huskers had scratched and clawed throughout second half and with five minutes to play, they were only down two, 54-52. Maryland, unfortunately for NU, had the best player on the floor. Melo Trimble hit back-to-back 3’s for the Terps, a pair of shots superstars make with the game on the line. Trimble wore the superstar mantle tonight and if it weren’t for a career night from Pitchford, would have been the dagger shots that should have stopped the Huskers cold. But the aforementioned Pitchford tied his career high 19 points, having the best game of the season and arguably the best game of his career, went 7-14 from the floor, hitting five 3’s and grabbing seven rebounds.
His last two 3’s gave the Huskers one last chance to steal the game, or at least get it into overtime. After his final one, the Huskers were within three at 65-62. On the ensuing inbound play, Benny Parker stepped in front of Jake Layman’s pass, tried to pass it to Tai Webster who couldn’t control it and lost it out of bounds. That was the final chance the Huskers would get to knocking off the #15 Terps. The Huskers would have to settle for "almost".
The Huskers now sit at 13-13 on the season with four games remaining in the regular season and the Husker postseason destiny remains in question. With two game each at home and on the road, NU will need to knock off Iowa and Maryland in Pinnacle Bank Arena and find a way to split the final two games at Ohio State and Illinois. The Big Ten Tournament in Chicago might be the deciding factor in whether or not they find themselves in a postseason tournament or not. The Huskers, though, may have found something they can build off of the final four games of the season. Whether or not it leads to any sort of postseason magic remains to be seen. If it’s something they can carry over to next season, the impact of the final games will be felt well into next season.