After losing to in-state rival Creighton on Sunday night, Nebraska looked poised to get back on the right track with provisional Division I member Incarnate Word in town Wednesday. While the Cardinals, who are in the second year of their transition to the Division I level, entered the game with a 5-1 record just two of those games were played against Division I competition.
Ken Burmeister’s team posted a win over Princeton last month, and on Monday fell 81-65 at UTEP. But none of that mattered Wednesday night, as the Cardinals knocked off the Cornhuskers 74-73 with a Kyle Hittle jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining proving to be the difference.
Hittle finished the game with 18 points and was one of five UIW players to score in the game, with all five reaching double figures. As a team Incarnate Word shot just over 48 percent from the field for the game, and they managed to win despite the fact that leading scorer Denzel Livingston (19.6 ppg) shot just 3-for-11 from the field.
For Nebraska this loss, their second straight at home, makes Saturday’s game against Cincinnati even more important. Shavon Shields (19 points) rebounded from a disappointing game against Creighton and Terran Petteway added 18, but the Huskers need some supplementary scoring options to step forward before Big Ten play begins. Just one other player scored in double figures (Walter Pitchford- ten points), and the remaining players shot a combined 8-for-24 from the field.
That being said defense was a bigger issue on this night, with Incarnate Word shooting nearly 58 percent from the field in the second half.
While Nebraska will look to address the issues that led to their third defeat of the season, Incarnate Word will celebrate what is the program’s biggest win as a Division I member. And while the result is a good one for this year’s team, it’s also an important step forward as Burmeister’s program works towards competing for an NCAA tournament bid when it becomes eligible to do so in 2017-18.