Nelson’s 24 points lead Gardner-Webb over Nebraska 70-62
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Tyrell Nelson knew what Sunday’s 70-62 win over Nebraska means for Gardner-Webb.
“This is huge, this one is huge,” Nelson said. “We somewhat struggled in the beginning (of the season) but this win is very big for us, going into the Christmas break and going into conference. It’s very, very big for us.”
Nelson scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half to help Gardner-Webb beat Nebraska 70-62 on Sunday.
Nebraska cut it to 62-60 on Tai Webster’s free throws with 2:21 left. But Gardner-Webb hit 3 of 4 free-throw attempts down the stretch and David Efianayi hit a game-clinching layup with 29 seconds left.
Efianayi had 11 points for Gardner-Webb (7-5). The Bulldogs shot 44 percent from the field, 48 percent in the second half, and made 12 of 17 second-half free throws.
Tai Webster led Nebraska (5-6) with 17 points. Glynn Watson Jr. had 14 points and Ed Morrow Jr. pulled down 15 rebounds.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles was despondent with his team’s listless performance in front of 8,144 fans in the usually-packed 14,000-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena..
“I never dreamt in five years this is where we would be, losing to Gardner-Webb,” Miles said. “We’re not where we should be. The issue is us. It’s us and our mindset.
“It was the smallest crowd I’d ever seen at Pinnacle Bank Arena and we told our guys it was going to be. We had bad weather, you’ve got a lot of things going on, and we’re going to have to create our own energy. We talked about that, and we didn’t.”
Nebraska led by as many as seven in the first half, but the cold-shooting Huskers saw that lead cut to just two at intermission. Nebraska hit just 40 percent of its shots for the game, made 15 of 26 free throws and committed 20 turnovers.
The Bulldogs opened up a four-point lead early in the second half, but a 5-0 spurt by Nebraska put the Huskers up 36-35. Gardner-Webb took the lead for good on Nelson’s 3-pointer to make it 45-43 with 12:57 left and opened the advantage to seven on Efianayi’s free throws five minutes later.
Beating a Big Ten team on the road was critical for Gardner-Webb going forward, said coach Tim Craft.
“I think what it does for our players is it validates some of the things that we’ve been talking to them as a coaching staff about and how good they can be if they can play in a stance all the time and defend with max effort all the time,” Craft said. “It’s exciting to see them have success against a team in the Big Ten.”
Gardner-Webb: The Bulldogs traveled from North Carolina to the heartland to wrap up their pre-conference season.
Nebraska: The Huskers have played the toughest schedule in the country, according to the NCAA RPI. Five of Nebraska’s first 10 opponents are in the top 50 of the RPI, tying for the national lead.
Gardner Webb is at Kansas State Tuesday.
Nebraska hosts Southern on Tuesday.