The Northwestern Wildcats (14-5, 5-3 B1G) defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-11, 3-7 B1G) 78-63 in Northwestern’s second game in three days after an eight-day COVID layoff.
After suffering an ankle injury just 48 hours earlier, Ty Berry put on an offensive show, leading Northwestern with a career-high 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Boo Buie and Chase Audige also reached double-figure point totals as well, scoring 17 and 15 points, respectively. Audige also added six rebounds and four assists. Keisei Tominaga led the way for Nebraska, tallying 22 points.
Nebraska won the opening tip and Tominaga tallied the game’s first basket with a reverse layup. Tominaga traded buckets with Berry to combine for the first eight points of the game, until Buie set up an alley-oop to Matthew Nicholson to give the ‘Cats their first lead of the night at 6-4.
Three Nebraska turnovers allowed Northwestern to eventually extend the lead to four, before Tominaga got to the rim for another layup. After a blocking foul took Berry out of the game, the Nebraska guard continued his hot start with another layup to tie the game at eight apiece.
Northwestern responded with five quick points of its own from a Buie layup and Brooks Barnhizer three, but Tominaga got right back to work, drawing a shooting foul on a drive to the lane and knocking down one free throw before he hit a three from the corner to cut Northwestern’s lead back to one.
A Sam Griesel jumper tied the game at 14 as he became the first non-Tominaga scorer for Nebraska after more than seven minutes of game time. But Berry continued a hot start of his own, knocking down threes on back-to-back possessions to get to 12 points on the night, which gave the ‘Cats a 20-16 lead at the second media timeout.
A Nick Martinelli floater gave the ‘Cats a six-point lead, but three made three-pointers in a row by Tominaga, Jamarques Lawrence and Denim Dawson forced Northwestern to take a timeout, now trailing 25-22 with just under eight minutes left in the half.
Berry guided an alley to Nicholson to stop the Cornhuskers’ 9-0 run, and Nicholson repaid the favor, assisting on a Berry three on the next possession to regain a two-point lead for the ‘Cats. But the sharpshooting junior did not stop there, as he knocked down another three from the right side to give Northwestern a five-point lead just one possession later.
The ‘Cats and Cornhuskers went back and forth for a few possessions before Berry knocked down his fifth three of the first half to give Northwestern a six-point lead, and Tydus Verhoeven gave the ‘Cats a 38-30 lead before the final media timeout with a layup following a Robbie Beran miss.
Audige converted another alley-oop to Nicholson, before a Buie three from the corner capped off a 13-2 run for Northwestern to give Northwestern a 43-30 lead at the end of the first half.
The ‘Cats picked up where they left off at the end of the first half, as an Audige layup extended Northwestern’s lead to 15 points.
A few possessions later, Tominaga and Berry traded buckets, but Northwestern maintained a 13-point lead. Berry knocked down a three to give Northwestern a 16-point lead, its largest lead of the night. The ‘Cats led by the same margin at the first media timeout.
While Nebraska failed to score four over four minutes, Northwestern got five points from Audige, which extended the lead to 21 points and forced the Cornhuskers to take a timeout. A three by Lawrence broke Nebraska’s scoring drought, but Buie answered with a three of his own to give Northwestern a 63-40 lead at the under-12 stoppage.
The ‘Cats and Cornhuskers traded baskets for a few minutes, and after a wide-open layup for Tominaga, Northwestern took a timeout with a 19-point lead.
Northwestern was forced to take yet another timeout, after a 7-0 Nebraska scoring run brought the Cornhuskers within 14 points. Nebraska cut the lead to 12 before Audige soared in for a putback dunk to bring Northwestern’s lead back to 14 with just under four minutes left. The ‘Cats lead was 72-58 when the final media timeout occurred with just under three minutes left.
Buie hit a floater to extend the lead to 16 points, but Nebraska’s Lawrence knocked down a three and Nebraska called timeout before starting to send Northwestern to the free throw line. Audige and Buie scored the last four points for Northwestern from the free throw line to ice a 15-point win for the ‘Cats.
Northwestern hopes to continue its winning streak against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Evanston on Saturday at 11 a.m. CST. You can catch the action on the Big Ten Network.