It may be a modest two-game winning streak, but the Nebraska Cornhuskers are hoping to parlay that into some early success when they open Big Ten Conference play next week.
Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields each scored 22 points as Nebraska beat Ohio 72-58 on Thursday to claim fifth place in the Diamond Head Classic.
The Cornhuskers (8-4) fell to tournament-host Hawaii in a quarterfinal Monday, but rebounded to edge Loyola Marymount in overtime in a consolation semifinal Tuesday.
“I saw progress over the past three games and it’s always fun to be able to play and get better playing because you can only practice so much and get better,” Cornhuskers’ coach Tim Miles said. “That’s a big thing going into the Big Ten having this tournament so close.”
Petteway shot 6 of 14 from the field and 9 of 13 from the free-throw line and grabbed 10 rebounds. Shields made 7 of 14 field goals and hit all seven of his free throw attempts.
“It’s just something I have to build on and we have to build off of as a team,” Petteway said. “The way we played tonight, that describes Nebraska and Nebraska basketball.”
The Cornhuskers did not trail in the game and also got 13 rebounds and eight points from David Rivers. It was their second consecutive victory and third in their last four games.
Javarez Willis had team-highs of 15 points and eight rebounds and Maurice Ndour chipped in 12 points for the Bobcats (4-6).
Nebraska went scoreless for more than six minutes in the first half, which allowed Ohio to pull within 20-17 with a 6-0 run.
Shields finally ended the scoring drought at the 6:22 mark with a pair of free throws to put the Cornhuskers up 22-17, only to see the Bobcats tie it following a Ryan Taylor 3-pointer and a putback by Treg Setty.
However, Nebraska scored the next eight points of the game to pull ahead 30-22. Ohio answered with an 8-0 run of its own, capped by Willis’ 3-pointer from straight away to knot it at 30.
Shields, who scored 13 points after halftime, drew a foul on a drive to the basket and hit both free throws to send the Cornhuskers into halftime with a 32-30 lead.
“It was good that we found a way to win and got a second win in a row,” Shields said. “We know what makes us successful and we know what players need to do what and we just need to put it all together and be on the same page in the end, but for sure this is a great carry over heading into the Big Ten.”
Nebraska shot 45 percent from field for the game, including 50 percent in the second half, and was 21 of 27 from the free-throw line.
Ohio shot 44 percent from the field in the second half, but got to the free-throw line just four times after halftime and finished 11 of 15.
Ohio: The Bobcats completed their fourth trip to Hawaii in program history and are 7-6 all-time in games played in the 50th state.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers, who used just a seven-man rotation Thursday, largely controlled the paint with a 39-28 rebounding advantage.
Ohio first-year head coach Saul Phillips served under Nebraska coach Tim Miles for three seasons at North Dakota State. When Miles left to take over at Colorado State in 2007, Phillips succeeded him at NDSU. Phillips is one of four former Miles’ assistants who are now Division I head coaches.
Ohio will host UNC-Wilmington Tuesday.
Nebraska hosts Indiana in its Big Ten Conference opener Wednesday.