Bryce McGowens tied a season-high with 29 points, but the Huskers could not hold on and fell to Rutgers, 63-61 on Saturday afternoon.
The freshman, whose 29 points matched the most ever by a Husker freshmen in a conference game, kept NU ahead for most of the evening before Trey McGowens’ 3-pointer with 3:28 left gave the Huskers a 58-54 lead. Rutgers would have one last run, outscoring the Huskers’ 9-3 down the stretch to pull out the victory.
Paul Mulcahy’s putback basket with 1:32 left gave the Scarlet Knights (12-8. 6-4 Big Ten) their first lead of the game. NU had three chances to regain the lead in the final 1:30 and trailed 63-60 after Ron Harper Jr. hit two free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining.
NU had a final chance to send it to overtime as Kobe Webster was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.9 seconds left. Webster split the first two to make it a 2-point Rutgers lead, but was called for a lane violation as he intentionally tried to miss the third free throw, and Rutgers led on.
In addition to Bryce McGowens’ 29-point effort, Trey McGowens added a season-high 11 points and seven rebounds as the Huskers had 44-39 advantage on the boards and held Rutgers to 38 percent shooting.
Nebraska shot just 29 percent from the floor, but kept control for most of the night by going 21-of-29 from the line, including 14-of-18 by Bryce McGowens, who posted his seventh 20-point effort of the year.
Geo Baker led Rutgers with 14 points to pace three Rutgers players in double figures. Mawot Mag added 13 off the bench and Mulchy added 10 points and four steals. NU held Ron Harper Jr., who was leading Rutgers in scoring, to just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting.
In the first half, the Huskers used a quick start and later used an 11-1 run to take a 31-28 lead into the locker room.
Nebraska got going early, hitting six of its first 10 shots from the floor to build a 15-6 lead at the 14:43 mark after the second of Bryce McGowens’ 3-pointers. The Huskers eventually stretched the lead to 31-20 with 4:04 left in the half before Rutgers made a run. The Scarlet Knights scored the last eight points of the half to trim the NU lead to three.
The Huskers stretched the lead early in the second half, using a 7-2 spurt to turn a 34-30 lead into a nine-point advantage. NU kept the lead for most of the half and led 55-49 before Rutgers began its comeback. The visitors ran off five straight points, including a Harper 3-pointer after Rutgers had missed 15 of its first 16 3-point attempts to make it a one-point NU lead.
Trey McGowens then responded with a 3-pointer to make it 58-54 before Mag’s 3-pointer started the decisive run for the visitors.
The Huskers return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 1, when they travel to Michigan. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.