In what essentially turned into a three-point shooting contest, Northwestern was able to beat Nebraska in the battle from beyond the arc, taking down the Huskers 84-74.
The Wildcats shot 45.2 percent from three (14-31) and 12 of their first 13 shots came from beyond the arc. The Huskers relied on the three as well, hitting on 11 of 26 shots for 42.3 percent on the night.
Because both teams relied heavily on low-percentage shots, Thursday’s game was full of runs. Every time Northwestern grabbed a lead, Nebraska would fight back, but the Wildcats were able to hold on at the end.
“Basketball is always a game of runs,” Northwestern forward Drew Crawford said. “Teams are going to make their runs when they’re down. They made a great run, they were knocking down shots, but we were able to stay composed and run our offense and that got us back into things.”
Crawford finished with 21 points, including four three-pointers, while fellow forward John Shurna finished with 28. The duo combined for over half of its team’s points, as only four other players received playing time for the Wildcats.
Northwestern was able to get to the free throw line 29 times against the Huskers and the Wildcats made 24 of those shots, which ended up being the difference in such a high-scoring game.
“You’re not going to go on the road and give up 84 points and beat anybody; I mean, Nebraska’s not,” Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. “Give them credit for making shots. They made 24 free throws. That just tells you we’re fouling too much and defensively we weren’t doing the things we needed to do.”
To Northwestern coach Bill Carmody, how his team won didn’t matter, but getting that win was important for the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament hopes, following a three-game losing streak. His team faces a much tougher test Sunday, as it heads to Champaign to take on Illinois.
“I’m happy to get a win, but now we have to move on,” he said. “When you in, you move on and when you lose, you move on.”
(Guest post by Kevin Trahan of bigtenorbust.com, purplewildcats.com and the Daily Northwestern.)