LINCOLN — A barrage of second half 3-pointers turned Fred Hoiberg’s debut inside Pinnacle Bank Arena into a nightmare on Tuesday night. UC Riverside, a 15-point underdog, made 7 of its first 11 3-pointers in the second half and took an 18-point lead.
Nebraska shot just 28 percent from the floor -- just 20 percent in the second half -- and couldn't climb out of the hole.
This is the first time Nebraska’s lost a season opener at home since 1980.
The Highlanders out-rebounded Nebraska by 20, shot 42 percent from the floor and forced Nebraska into tough shots at the rim they couldn't make.
Hoiberg’s team couldn’t find a rhythm from 3-point range — making just seven of 26 from behind the arc — and couldn’t find a consistent scorer.
Cam Mack scored 11 points with a team-high nine rebounds and a team-high three assists.
Nebraska ran out to a 14-7 lead — making six of its first seven shots — earning a standing ovation from the crowd at the first TV timeout.
But over the next 16 minutes, Hoiberg’s team missed 18 of their next 22 shots. UC Riverside inched back slowly, then took a six-point lead after two straight 3-pointers from DJ McDonald and Dragan Elkaz.
On a last second tip in by Elkaz, the Highlanders — missing last year’s leading scorer Dikymbe Martin — led Nebraska 32-28 at halftime. NU shot just shooting 34% from the floor in the first 20 minutes, was just 3 for 13 from 3-point range, missed five of 10 free throws and was out-rebounded 21-17.
It didn’t get much better after a halftime chewing from Hoiberg.
Mack came out swinging, with a tough take to the hoop, but he missed the shot and the tip in. Elkaz hit a 3-pointer on Riverside’s first possession for the biggest lead of the game at 8.
Ouedraogo cut it down to five with a bucket off a spin move, but two straight 3-pointers from McDonald — one off an offensive rebound — pushed the lead up to 12. Hoiberg, exasperated, called a timeout at while the Riverside bench spilled on the court and a nervous murmur spread across PBA.
The fifth 3-pointer after the timeout — this one from Dominic Pickett — pushed it to 47-32.
Kavas hit a 3-pointer, the first of the half for NU, but Pullin matched it on the other end to stay up 15.
It went to 18 after Elkaz’s third 3-pointer on the night.
Down 57-38 with 7:52, Pinnacle Bank Arena began to clear out.
The remaining crowd cheered sarcastically when Nebraska made its first free throw of the half with about six minutes left.
Riverside responded with a dunk by McRae for a 19-point lead.
It’d end up at 66-47.
Get the full story later tonight on Omaha.com or in tomorrow's World-Herald.