Rare spree from behind the arc helps Huskers defeat Boston College in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Rare spree from behind the arc helps Huskers defeat Boston College in Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Nebraska's Anton Gill and Boston College's Steffon Mitchell fight for the ball.

LINCOLN — A 3-point shooting bonanza from … Nebraska?

It’s true, at least for a while Wednesday night.

The Huskers, who were 202nd in the country from long distance entering their Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Boston College, nailed nine of their first 14 shots from 3 to start fast and then hung on for a 71-62 victory in front of 10,742 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

NU (6-2) never trailed, but never got comfortable, either, against the Eagles (5-3).

Nebraska took its first double-digit lead at 49-38 on guard Glynn Watson’s short jumper with 18:09 to play. But the Huskers went scoreless for the next 7:05, missing nine straight shots and committing three turnovers — much of that with Watson on the bench dealing with the flu.

“He was light-headed all night,’’ NU coach Tim Miles said. “And then for him to get 10 points and six assists with no turnovers was exceptional.’’

Boston College closed to 51-50 with 10:05 to play, and 59-57 with 7:05 left.

From there, the Huskers held the Eagles without a field goal until the final minute. Guard James Palmer and forward Isaac Copeland sparked the offense down the stretch. Both finished with 15 points.

Copeland said NU remained poised during the Boston College comeback.

“This year, we do a good job of huddling together and really communicating,’’ said Copeland, who had eight rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. “We got together and said, ‘We’ve been here before. Let’s not let this lead go.’ ’’

But the 3-point shooting — 47.4 percent for the game compared with 34.3 percent for the season — was a big key.

“We came out early and really played well,’’ Miles said. “Guys shared the ball and those who had open shots stepped up and made them. That was really important in setting the tone.’’

Guard Evan Taylor, who made only six 3s last season, had three in the first seven minutes Wednesday. That got the Huskers off to a 19-10 start.

“A lot of my 3s were open looks,’’ the senior said. “I credit my teammates for getting me the ball and having the confidence in me to make shots. I just wanted to help our team get off to a good start.’’

Miles said Taylor got better with hard work, plus some guidance from graduate assistants Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green.

“He was in the gym all the time,’’ Miles said. “You have to credit Evan for gaining that confidence through hard work and then trusting that process. When he gets his footwork right and gets the right shot, he makes them.

“That was big-time the first half for Jack (McVeigh) to get two and Evan to get three 3s.’’

Injuries bothered both teams.

Boston College didn’t have guard Jordan Chatman, who has 11 3s this season, because of a shoulder injury. Then forward Deontae Hawkins, averaging 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds, played just 11 minutes before going down with a knee injury. He finished with four points and one rebound.

Nebraska was without 6-foot-8 forward Isaiah Roby, who suffered a sprained ankle in Sunday’s victory over Long Beach State. He was on the bench in street clothes and a wrap on his left ankle.

“Isaiah is clearly our most efficient guy,’’ Miles said. “Look at our charts and he’s an A-plus. The next closest is Glynn at B-plus.

“We need to get him back. He’s gone from crutches to a boot to being able to walk without a boot. But I don’t think that assures anything for Sunday.’’

Sunday is the start of a four-game stretch in 14 days against ranked opponents: at No. 3 Michigan State; No. 12 Minnesota on Tuesday; at No. 25 Creighton on Dec. 9; and No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 16.

Like many coaches, Miles peruses the schedule from time to time to gauge his team’s progress.

“I think I know the number we need to make postseason,’’ he said. “I thought we’d have to have six by now. So we’re at the minimum.’’

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