Nebraska nearly overcame 28 percent shooting in the first half as Penn State held on for a 76-74 overtime win on Friday in State College, Pennsylvania.
After building a 33-24 lead at the break, the Nittany Lions (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) reeled off the first six points of the second half as part of a 9-2 run to push its lead to 42-26 less than 2 minutes into the second half.
But the furious play of Glynn Watson and Isaac Copeland and Nebraska’s switch to a 1-3-1 zone late in the second half, cooled Penn State to close out regulation.
The Huskers (12-7, 3-3) cut their deficit to 59-53 when Isaiah Roby hit the first of two free throws. After Penn State answered with a dunk by Lamar Stevens, Copeland countered with a 3-pointer with 4:08 remaining to return things to a two-possession game.
Watson scored 12 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but managed just two over the next 23-plus minutes, until he canned a step-back, pull-up, deep three to cut the Penn State lead to 61-59 with 3:17 to play.
Tony Carr’s three-pointer at the other end missed, but the Nittany Lions were called for a foul on the rebound. Watson hit one of two free throws and the lead was 61-60.
Penn State dug out two offensive rebounds on its ensuing possession before Mike Watkins was fouled and hit both free throws for a 63-60 Penn State lead.
Copeland scored the next three points to tie it at 63. The teams traded buckets, the last coming on a Watson pull-up from off the right elbow for another tie at 65-65. It stayed that way at the end of regulation.
The teams traded misses, then traded threes before Roby was fouled on a drive to the hoop. He hit both free throws for a 70-68 lead with 2:50 left in overtime.
Following a Penn State miss, it looked like Roby gave Nebraska a four-point lead, but his jumper didn’t beat the shot clock and a Watkins putback at the other end tied the game with under 2 minutes left.
Watson hit the back end of two free throws for a 71-70 Nebraska lead. But Carr answered with a big jump shot for a 72-71 lead and a Watson three at the other end was off the mark.
Carr drew a foul at the other end and made both free throws for a 74-71 with :23.6 left.
It wasn’t over though, when Roby threaded the needle to Anton Gill for a three from the right corner to tie the game with :14 left. But Carr hit a pull-up jumper with 2.7 left for the 76-74 lead.
Roby’s 40-footer at the horn missed.
Copeland finished with 21 points and eight rebounds and Watson also added 21 points. Roby added a career-high 12 points to go with six rebounds.
Nebraska’s leading scorer, James Palmer, was hampered by foul trouble throughout the game and finished with five points and four rebounds.