WASHINGTON — Nebraska’s 2016-17 men’s basketball season ended Wednesday in most appropriate fashion — with a close loss to a Big Ten opponent.
NU rallied from nine points down in the final five minutes to force overtime, but scored only two points in the first four minutes of the extra session and fell 76-67 to Penn State in a league tourney play-in game at the Verizon Center.
The loss was the sixth to a Big Ten foe by single digits. The Huskers (12-19) tied the school record for losses by dropping their final five games.
The previous four had been by 16, 16, 15 and 36 points. So going to overtime brought some relief to coach Tim Miles, who received confirmation afterward that he will return for a sixth season.
“The solace I do take in this game,” he said, “is we continued to show a resolve we had earlier, but somewhere lost it in the last two or three weeks. For our guys to battle and get to overtime … and then it was like worst-case scenario.”
The game went to overtime after Nebraska rallied from a 55-46 deficit with 5:10 to play.
Husker guard Glynn Watson swished a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left to tie the game at 58 — the closest NU had been since it was 4-4.
Penn State guard Tony Carr hit two free throws with 35 seconds left for a 60-58 lead. But NU center Ed Morrow’s layup on an assist from Watson with 22 seconds left tied it. Penn State then turned it over, giving Nebraska a shot at the buzzer from half-court that was long.
But in overtime, the Huskers missed five of their first six shots and the front end of a one-and-one free throw. That gave Penn State time to jump to a 10-point lead.
Cold shooting bothered Nebraska all game.
NU shot 35.3 percent in the first half, 34.4 percent in the second and 30 percent in overtime. Overall, that comes out to 34.2 percent. The only player to top 50 percent was team scoring leader Evan Taylor, who had 15 points on 6 of 11 shots.
Senior Tai Webster, the Big Ten’s third-leading scorer at 17.2 points, had 10 in the first half but only two after halftime.
“The ball seemed like it wasn’t dropping in for us,” said Webster, who finished 4 of 16, including 2 of 9 on 3s. “Had a couple of good looks, but unfortunately couldn’t capitalize on those looks.”
In a review of the season, Miles said at the end “there were some guys who were worn out.”
“But I was proud of them tonight coming back,” he said. “Although we didn’t have great rhythm, we fought back.”