Washington, D.C. – Nebraska overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation, but Shep Garner scored seven of his 16 points in overtime, lifting Penn State to a 76-67 win over Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Nebraska trailed 55-46 with 5:11 left in regulation, but held Penn State without a field goal until overtime, allowing the Huskers to come back. The Husker backcourt led the charge, as the Huskers used a 12-3 spurt to knot the score at 58-all after a Glynn Watson Jr. 3-pointer.
Penn State regained the lead on a pair of free throws from Tony Carr with 35.4 seconds left, but Watson found Ed Morrow Jr. for a layup with 21.4 seconds left to tie the score at 60-all. The Huskers had one final opportunity in regulation, but Watson’s half-court attempt at the buzzer was off the mark, sending the game to overtime.
The Nittany Lions took control in overtime, using a 12-2 spurt to start the extra period, including 3-pointers from Lamar Stevens and Garner, who beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer that gave PSU a 68-62 lead.
The Huskers pulled to within seven after a 3-pointer from Jack McVeigh with 58 seconds left, but Josh Reaves and Stevens combined to go 4-for-4 from the line to hold the Huskers at bay.
Junior Evan Taylor, who played his high school basketball in Washington, D.C., led three Huskers in double figures with 16 points, while Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr., went for 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Mike Watkins led four Penn State players in double figures with 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Garner and Stevens added 16 apiece for the winners.
With the win, Penn State improves to 15-17 on the season and will play Michigan State on Thursday, while the Huskers end their season with an 12-19 record.
In the second half, the Huskers scored the first four points, slicing a 38-33 deficit to one after a Taylor 3-pointer before Penn State went on a run. PSU outscored the Huskers 13-4 to extend the lead to 10 points at 51-41 with 11:02 left. The lead would hover between 10 and seven points until Morrow’s basket with 4:21 left ignited the Husker comeback.
In the first half, the Huskers battled back from an 11-point deficit only to see Penn State close the first half on an 8-3 run to take a 38-30 halftime lead.
Penn State jumped to a 15-8 lead before Tai Webster scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Huskers within two before Penn State ran off seven straight points to take a 22-13 lead after a 3-point play from Josh Reaves.
The Nittany Lions stretched the lead to 11 on two occasions before Nebraska fought back, as a Glynn Watson basket and a Jeriah Horne 3-pointer started a run of nine straight points as the Huskers pulled to within 27-25 on a Michael Jacobson tip in. PSU broke the drought with a Shep Garner 3-pointer but a nice basket from Jordy Tshimanga and a 3-pointer from Webster knotted the game at 30-all.
Lamar Stevens then keyed a 8-0 spurt with two straight baskets, as PSU took a 38-30 lead on a putback from Mike Watkins, who had 10 points, five blocks and four rebounds in the first half. Nebraska pulled to within 5 after a Jack McVeigh 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the half.