When Nebraska traveled to Happy Valley on a wintry Tuesday, both teams had a similar middle of the season. The Huskers had a seven-game losing streak. Penn State had an eight-game losing streak. But, as of late, both teams have been trending up. Nebraska has won their last tow in a row and Penn State has won two of their last four, including upsetting the conference-leading Michigan.
The game started off with a few bad possessions by both teams until Tanner Borchardt opened up the scoring a minute and a half in. A Myles Dread three followed by an Isaiah Roby two-pointer gave the Huskers a 4-3 lead. The Nittany Lions would then go on an ten to nothing run, fueled by eight straight Lamar Stevens points.
Heading into the U12 timeout four minutes later, the Huskers were still down 19-12, with James Palmer Jr., Amir Harris and Thomas Allen trading punches with Mike Watkins and Jamari Wheeler.
Five straight Nittany Lion points put the Huskers down twelve, until Palmer Jr. ended a five-minute drought for the Huskers. The U8 timeout could not come soon enough, as Nebraska found themselves down 31-18.
At this point in the game, Nebraska had as many fouls and turnovers as they had made field goals. Following three more minutes without scoring, Isaiah Roby took advantage of a mismatch and cut the Penn State lead to...gulp, 15.
The Huskers offense had been looking like it did on their big skid earlier in the season: no movement, no passing and no flow. The final Huskers possession was a microcosm of their season. Glynn Watson Jr. dribbled around and cut to the rim, before missing a layup. Huskers down 44-25 at half.
Things were looking up as the Huskers opened the half with a quick five-point run. And then Penn State hit a three, which was matched by Palmer Jr. next possession. He would hit a three after another Penn State score.
An official TV timeout was a much-needed break for the Huskers. What happened in the six minutes I skipped? Well, the Huskers are down 64-41, their largest deficit of the season. There was also a patented four-minute scoring drought for the Huskers.
A bright spot came from five-straight Thomas Allen points, along with a three from Roby. But we still have ten minutes to go.
Roby, Allen, and JPJ continued to be the only two to find the bucket for the Big Red. Barring Watson’s opening three-pointer, those three are the only guys who scored a second half point up until Unfortunately, they could not claw back from any sort of deficit, with it now crawling up to 28 points, aided by eight straight made shots for the Nittany Lions, capped off by a Myles Dread three-point heave.
Trying to save face a little, Glynn hit a three, followed by a defensive stop, capped off with a Roby and-one (where he would, of course, miss the free throw). Not to any avail again, as with three minutes to go, Tim MIles trotted in a lineup of Johnny Trueblood, Nana Akenten, Thor Thorbjarnarson, Tanner Brochardt, and Brady Heiman. Penn State put in a similarly bench-heavy lineup, but that did not stop the bleeding, as they would climb darn-near triple digits.
Aside from the trio of Roby, Palmer and Allen, the Huskers managed 19 points, seven of which came in the bench-clearing at the end.
Any hope for a tourney appearance is at an all-time low, as the Huskers finish the season with four-straight games against ranked opponents. I’ll bet Bill Moos will be reaching in his top drawer sooner rather than later.
Final: Penn State 95, Huskers 71