LINCOLN — By the time the final buzzer sounded, Isaiah Roby was tired.
But it was the good kind of tired.
Each of Nebraska’s five reserves logged at least 20 minutes, led by 24 from Roby and Anton Gill in a 70-38 blowout of the Division II University of Mary on Tuesday night.
NU coach Tim Miles, a Mary graduate, said he wanted to get another look at his bench after it struggled in the season opener Sunday, shooting 2 for 16 from the floor and scoring nine points in a win over Sacramento State. Against Mary, the second unit played the final 12 minutes together and combined for 30 points.
Miles “challenged us to step up our game tonight,” Roby said. “We still have a lot to work on execution-wise and jelling as a team, but we stepped up more. We were dripping sweat and winded, so it was good to get both of those things done tonight.”
Roby, who had missed all three of his shots in the opener, had perhaps the play of the game Tuesday night when he drove the baseline and two-hand dunked over Mary center Isaac Lindquist.
The 6-foot-8 forward from Dixon, Illinois, finished with seven points, while freshman center Jordy Tshimanga recorded eight points and eight rebounds.
“Jordy and Roby are going to impact the game, I don’t care good or bad,” Miles said. “When they go in, something is happening. It could be catastrophic or really good. It is important to us to put them in position to be successful.”
Tai Webster and Michael Jacobson led NU (2-0) with 10 points each as every Husker who played made a field goal and grabbed a rebound.
Webster said he was encouraged by what he saw from the second unit.
The extended playing time for backups is “really good for our growth, especially intertwining them with the starters,” the senior guard said. “It was awesome to see them out there, and I think in the long run it will pay dividends.”
The 38 points allowed were the seventh-fewest in program history, but Miles said NU has work to do on offense. Mary ran deep into the shot clock when it had the ball, which caused the Huskers to force shots to try to speed the game up.
“Regardless of opponent, there is a way to play,” Miles said. “I thought we played solid defense, but then on offense I wasn’t happy with our patience.”
The 8,459 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena might have overwhelmed Mary, which averaged just more than 1,000 fans per game last season. At least four times, the Marauders threw up hurried shots as the Nebraska student section gave fake countdowns of the shot clock.
“It was awesome. We had a lot of energy early and it affected our shots,” Mary coach Joe Kittell said. “There’s not going to be any atmosphere that’s going to be more hostile than this. As far as that goes, our guys understand that, played in it and it shouldn’t bother us anymore.”
Miles said he was proud to see his alma mater embrace playing on such a big stage. He said the family of his college coach was in attendance, as was his best friend from college.
“Their support of bringing a plane full of people down here showed their enthusiasm,” Miles said. “It means a lot to me. It was just great to see everybody.”