Freshman Bryce McGowens finished with 25, the highest total ever by a Nebraska freshman in his debut, overcoming a slow start by attacking and reaching the free-throw line.
But Nebraska’s attack often turned into one of those two guessing his defender and trying to drive to the edge. The duo together accounted for 38 of NU’s 59 shot attempts and no other Husker reached double figures.
“It was all on us,” Walker said. “Whether or not we were influenced by what they did, we only had six assists for the game. That’s not like us.”
The Leathernecks (1-0) led twice in the second half with seven points, including 10:41 at the end of a 9-0 run. As WIU cooled off offensively after that, it took Nebraska nearly nine minutes to pull back to the front as Verge converted a layup and Trey McGowens completed a massive dunk on back-to-back possessions.
McGowens’ dunk with 2:07 left was Nebraska’s last field goal. NOW got just two free throws the rest of the way, as Western Illinois hit a couple of three-pointers in the final 20 seconds to wipe out a 73-69 lead.
“I am confident that tomorrow (in practice) we will bounce back in the right way. We have to. We are playing against a good team on Friday (Sam Houston State), and we have to grow in a lot of areas,” said Hoiberg. “I still love this team a lot and I think we have good days ahead of us. But we need this learning and not having a recurrence.”