Shields leads Nebraska over Northwestern 54-47Nebraska forward Leslee Smith (21) shoots the ball over Northwestern guard Tre Demps (14) during an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, March 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Shavon Shields had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Nebraska, which took a 10-point lead with 7 minutes left and held on to defeat Northwestern 54-47 Saturday.
With the win, Nebraska (17-11, 9-7 Big Ten) is guaranteed a .500 conference record, a Big Ten first for the Huskers, now in their third season in the conference. Nebraska won nine conference games for the first time since 1998-99 and only the 10th time since World War II.
Northwestern (12-17, 5-11) has now lost six straight games, a streak that began with a 53-49 loss to Nebraska on Feb. 8.
Nebraska took the lead 3 1/2 minutes into the game and never trailed thereafter. Northwestern cut the lead to 31-30 on Drew Crawford's 3-pointer with 11:46 remaining.
A three-point play by Shields triggered a 13-4 Nebraska run that he capped with a pair of free throws to make the score 44-34 with 7 minutes left.
Nebraska's largest lead came on another Shields three-point play that put the Huskers up 49-38 with 3:49 left.
Northwestern's Alex Olah, who finished with 20 points, then scored six straight to pull the Wildcats to within five. After a Nebraska basket, Crawford's 3-pointer cut the Nebraska lead to four at 51-47.
Nebraska's Benny Parker took a charge from Northwestern's Sanjay Lumpkin to get the ball back for the Huskers with 30 seconds remaining. Shields made 1 of 2 free throws, then closed the scoring with a breakaway dunk with 5 seconds left.
Neither team shot the ball well. Nebraska finished at 37 percent from the floor, Northwestern at 33 percent.
Joining Shields in double figures for Nebraska were Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford with 10 points each.
Crawford finished with 11 for Northwestern and Tre Demps added 10.