Northwestern beats Penn State 60-39, season low for Lions
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Northwestern coach Chris Collins became impatient with his zone defense when Penn State nailed several early 3-pointers.
The young Wildcats stuck with the defense, however, and the commitment paid off as the Nittany Lions shot a season-low 27 percent.
Vic Law scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Tre Demps added 16 points and Northwestern beat Penn State 60-39 on Saturday afternoon.
”It’s funny. In our man defense, we didn’t force any turnovers,” Collins said. ”In our zone, we’ve been more aggressive. Guys have active hands. We’re getting deflections.”
Alex Olah had 10 points for the Wildcats (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten), who have won three straight after snapping a 10-game losing streak.
Geno Thorpe scored 13 points as the only double-digit scorer for Penn State, which scored a season-low point total. The Nittany Lions have lost four straight and six of seven.
Penn State’s D.J. Newbill, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21.1 points per game, finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting and nine rebounds. He scored his first points on a 3 with 1:25 remaining to cut the lead to 56-39.
”They packed it in and shaded D.J. all game,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. ”They did a really good job on him, probably the best of the year.”
The Nittany Lions (15-13, 3-12) also committed 14 turnovers and went 1 for 8 at the free-throw line in a meeting of teams in the bottom third of the Big Ten standings. Penn State’s previous season lows for points and shooting percentage were 46 points and 29 percent against Rutgers on Jan. 3.
Northwestern allowed its fewest points in a Big Ten game since the Wildcats beat Penn State 54-39 on Feb. 19, 2005.
”That was a big emphasis when our second unit got put in – we knew we had to talk and find the shooters and close out,” Northwestern guard Dave Sobolewski said.
The Wildcats shot 46 percent from the field. They opened the second half with an 8-2 run for a 36-22 lead. Penn State went on a 7-0 run to pull within four, but Demps and Law hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Olah made two jumpers to extend Northwestern’s lead to 50-36. Demps’ 3 gave the Wildcats a 56-36 lead with 1:41 left.
The Wildcats led 28-20 at halftime. Penn State didn’t make a 2-point shot until 3:37 remained before halftime. The Nittany Lions missed their first 13 shots inside the arc – including two free throws – before Thorpe made a layup to cut Northwestern’s lead to 22-17.
The Nittany Lions went 8-for-27 from beyond the arc.
”If we’re going to rely on three-point shooting, it’s going to be a long day for us,” Chambers said.
Penn State: The Wildcats debuted dark gray uniforms while Penn State wore dark blue. Penn State F Payton Banks made a crucial turnover when his pass went directly to Law with no teammate in sight, but he denied NU’s dark gray uniforms had created confusion on the play. Penn State had pulled within 38-34. ”The uniforms didn’t matter,” Banks said. . Nine of the Nittany Lions’ 12 losses in Big Ten action have been decided by single digits. . Penn State has a 28-16 series advantage against Northwestern. The Nittany Lions won the meeting in Evanston last season, 59-32.
Northwestern: Junior center Alex Olah finished with two blocks to tie the school career record of 136 also held by John Shurna (2009-12). .Forward Scottie Lindsey left the game with a hip injury, Collins said. He scored one point in 10 minutes. . Senior guard JerShon Cobb (foot/knee) has missed four straight games.
Law said he is maturing, and his game preparation has improved as he’s contributed to the young Wildcats.
”Being a freshman in the Big Ten, you really don’t have too much room to play like a freshman,” he said.
The college game is becoming easier for him, Law said.
”He’s going to be a really good player in this league for his whole career, puts some meat on those bones, gets a little stronger, continues to add to his skill set,” Collins said.
Penn State: Hosts Iowa on Saturday.
Northwestern: Hosts Indiana on Wednesday.