Word up: D-I newcomer Incarnate Word shocks Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Incarnate Word decided to make the move to Division I to help get the word out about its university.
No doubt lots of people know about the Cardinals now.
Kyle Hittle hit a contested baseline jumper after Nebraska's Terran Petteway threw away an inbound pass, and the school from San Antonio upset the Cornhuskers 74-73 on Wednesday night for its biggest victory since it started the four-year process of moving from Division II to Division I last season.
''We've hoped for this forever,'' Hittle said. ''We've had big schools on our schedule we've been trying to try to beat so we can get some notice, so hopefully this does it. This is a great win for our program, for our school, and it's so unreal. So unreal.''
The Cornhuskers looked like they might survive after Shawn Johnson, fouled twice in a span of 10 seconds while shooting 3-pointers, made 4 of 6 free throws to leave Incarnate Word (6-1) down a point with 6.7 seconds left.
But Petteway threw to no one on the inbound play, and the ball rolled out of bounds near the half court line. Mitchell Badillo inbounded to Hittle from underneath the basket. Hittle took two steps and made his 10-footer along the baseline.
Petteway's desperation shot at the buzzer was short, and Incarnate Word's players ran onto the court to celebrate while stunned Nebraska fans began heading to the exits.
''Incarnate Word is a good team, but we shouldn't have lost to that team on our home floor by any means,'' Petteway said. ''You don't have to point the finger. You can put the blame on me. I made that last turnover. It was careless. That was a stupid play and that cost us the game.''
The Huskers were the second Big Ten team in less than a week to be on the losing end of a major upset. Last weekend New Jersey Institute of Technology beat Michigan in Ann Arbor.
But the game in Lincoln marked the first time since 2010-11 that a transitioning Division I team beat an opponent from one of the five most powerful conferences, according to STATS.
Cardinals coach Ken Burmeister said the branding of Incarnate Word got a huge boost with the win.
''It's a great school, great campus, and the people across the street don't even know we exist,'' he said. ''For us to do this is great for our program, but it might be greater for the university in the future.''
Jontrell Walker scored 19 points to lead five Incarnate Word players in double figures. Hittle added 18 points, Johnson had 13 and Denzel Livingston and Traylin Farris 12 apiece.
Shields had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the Huskers (5-3). Petteway had 18 points and eight rebounds and Walter Pitchford had 10 points.
The loss goes down as one of the most embarrassing at home for a Nebraska team that returned almost everybody from the team that finished fourth in the Big Ten and went to the NCAA tournament.
''I knew they were good, and I knew Kenny was going to do enough to control the tempo. He's a smart, cagey guy,'' Nebraska coach Tim Miles said.
The Cardinals were down by eight points in the first half and by 10 with 13 minutes left. But they wouldn't quit, clawed their way back to 67-65 and then found a way to finish with Hittle's clutch shot with 2.7 seconds left.
''I don't know how he shot it,'' Burmeister said. ''It looked to me like it was over the backboard, and he got hit pretty good. When the ball went in, that was happy. That was happiness.''
Incarnate Word: Burmeister thanked Miles for agreeing to play his team. Burmeister said he set it up through a friend who knows former Nebraska director of basketball operations Jayden Olson. ''At the time they were looking for an easy win, and we got the game,'' Burmeister said before the game, chuckling. ... Incarnate Word shot 58 percent in the second half after shooting 39 percent in the first.
Nebraska: The Huskers were without backup big man Moses Abraham, who fractured a hand in practice Tuesday and will be out two to three weeks. ... Shields, who scored just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in Sunday's loss to Creighton, made 4 of his first 5 shots before missing 4 of his last 5. ... Freshman Nick Fuller, who had played a total of nine minutes in three games before Wednesday, had six points in eight minutes in the first half.
Incarnate Word visits Grand Canyon Dec. 17.
Nebraska hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.