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Northwestern 68, Penn State 63: Win Streak Over

Poor rebounding, turnovers doom Lions in Evanston

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern snapped Penn State’s 3-game win streak and swept the season series with the Nittany Lions with a 68-63 win on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats dominated on the glass despite atrocious shooting to keep the Lions at bay all afternoon.

First Half

Penn State got off to a quick 7-2 lead, but Northwestern made its first three 3-point shots to take a 13-10 lead at the under-12 timeout. The Nittany Lions’ defense locked down Boo Buie for most of the first half, keeping the Wildcats’ halfcourt offense out of sync despite some horrific rebounding. In the final 10 minutes of the half, neither team led by more than four points, and Northwestern took a 29-27 lead into the locker room.

Second Half

Northwestern’s offense finally woke up early in the second half, and eventually an 11-3 run by the Wildcats turned a 37-37 tie into a 48-40 lead with 11 minutes to play. Penn State would cut the deficit to as close as one when Nick Kern made a layup off a nice feed from Ace Baldwin to make it 54-53 Northwestern, but more poor rebounding and ball security allowed Northwestern to build the lead back to 59-53 with 1:30 to play. Penn State’s offense could not buy a bucket on the ensuing possession, and Northwestern was able to seal up the game with free-throw shooting in the waning seconds.

Players of the Game

Nick Kern Jr- 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 steal

Qudus Wahab- 5 blocks

Kern shot an efficient 7 for 9 from the floor and recorded 2 of Penn State’s 3 offensive rebounds. Wahab only scored 4 points, but his interior defense frustrated Northwestern when he was on the floor, and his 5 blocks kept points off the board for Northwestern to keep the Lions in the game.

Random Observations

  • Broken Glass: Penn State allowed a back-breaking 13 offensive rebounds in the game, taking away any momentum built by the defense.
  • Live by the 3, Die by the 3: After shooting over 50% from 3 in the last 2 games, the Lions reverted back to the mean, shooting just 6 for 20 from beyond the arc.
  • Still Exceeding Expectations: It was a frustrating loss, but the future still looks bright for the Mike Rhoades era. Hope springs eternal.

What’s Next

Penn State will return to the friendly confines of the BJC on Wednesday for a Valentine’s Day showdown with Michigan State. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30pm on the Big Ten Network.