With IU trailing 52-49 midway through the second half, sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell found senior forward Will Sheehey open on the wing.
Ferrell passed to Sheehey who, after missing his first four 3-pointers of the game, raised up and connected on the shot.
Sheehey’s 3-pointer tied the game at 52 just nine minutes and 52 seconds into the second half. Trailing 34-26 at the break, IU had already matched its point total from the first half.
Up to that point in the game, IU had never led. But it was Senior Night, the Hoosiers were on an 8-0 scoring run and they were fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Assembly Hall was raucous as Nebraska called timeout, hoping to quell the Hoosiers’ momentum.
Out of the timeout, IU would falter, getting outscored by the Cornhuskers 18-8 on its way to a 70-60 defeat.
After the game, IU Coach Tom Crean said Nebraska responded to the Hoosiers’ comeback efforts.
“We made our comeback and they made some big plays,” Crean said.
From the second half’s 10-minute mark down until the five minute and 53 seconds mark, the Hoosiers had five possessions on which they could have taken the lead.
On these possessions, the Hoosiers trailed the Cornhuskers by one or two points.
The first of IU’s chances to take a lead came with nine minutes and eight seconds remaining in the second half, after Nebraska guard Ray Gallegos missed a 3-pointer.
Ferrell grabbed the rebound and, after a series of passes on offense, the ball wound up in Sheehey’s hands for a jumper near the free throw line.
As Sheehey pulled up, the crowd joined him. Sheehey, who was given a standing ovation before and after his senior night speech, saw his shot rim out.
On its next possession, now down one after sophomore forward Shavon Shields hit one of two free throws, IU had two opportunities to take the lead.
After freshman guard Stanford Robinson was blocked by sophomore guard Terran Petteway, freshman forward Devin Davis grabbed the offensive rebound but missed a contested layup.
Sheehey stopped Nebraska on defense and turned the ball over on IU’s next possession, leading into the under-eight minute media timeout.
Robinson stole the ball from Shields and began pushing the ball up the court, but pulled up instead of trying to force the issue. The Hoosiers would settle for a Ferrell 3-pointer late in the shot clock.
IU’s final opportunity to take its first lead came with just under six minutes to play, when graduate student guard Evan Gordon, who was in the same position as Sheehey when he tied the game a few moments before, missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Hoosiers a two-point lead.
IU had its chances late. A Davis layup with two minutes and 30 seconds cut Nebraska’s lead down to 59-58.
The Cornhuskers called timeout with two minutes and 16 seconds left. Out of their timeout, Petteway would find an open Walter Pitchford in the corner. The sophomore forward made what looked to be a 3-pointer, but the referees immediately stopped play to make sure his feet were behind the arc.
They were, and the Cornhuskers had a four-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.
IU scored only two more points from there on out, eventually falling by 10.
“We couldn’t get our mojo,” Ferrell said afterwards. “We got quiet and shots weren’t falling. It’s part of the game.”
IU, which trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, rallied back in part by going 10-for-18 shooting from the field to start the half. From that point on, it would finish just 3-for-18.
For the game, IU shot 36.7 percent (22-for-60) from the field and 23.8 percent (5-for-21) from beyond the arc.
Crean said IU’s shooting woes led to its defeat.
“Bottom line — we didn’t shoot the ball well enough,” Crean said. “We didn’t get to where we needed to getting the ball in the paint.”
IU’s loss put a dent in its NCAA Tournament hopes, yet Sheehey remained adamant that this team would not give up on itself.
“We just gotta make sure we go down swinging,” Sheehey said. “This might be my last home game, but it’s not my last game.”