Penn State smothers Northwestern 59-32

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) D.J. Newbill scored 12 points and Penn State’s zone defense stifled Northwestern in the Nittany Lions’ 59-32 Big Ten win Thursday.

Penn State’s 2-3 zone defense frustrated Northwestern the entire game. The Wildcats’ 32 points were a season low and the fewest scored by any team in Big Ten play. Northwestern shot 23.3 percent from the field and went 3 of 22 behind the arc (season-low 13.6 percent).

Balanced scoring helped the Nittany Lions (15-15, 6-11 Big Ten) pick apart Northwestern’s defense. Tim Frazier and Brandon Taylor, each of whom scored 11 points, were two of eight different players to score for Penn State. The Nittany Lions shot 50 percent from the field.

Penn State’s five road wins are the most since 2008-09 when they won six.

The Wildcats (12-18, 5-12) lost their seventh consecutive game with their last win over a month ago against Minnesota on Feb. 1.

It didn’t help that the Wildcats’ two best shooters, Drew Crawford and Tre Demps, shot a combined 3 of 19 for 11 points. By halftime, Penn State built a 17-point lead, and Northwestern never threatened during the second half. Alex Olah led the Wildcats with 14 points.

Neither team shot well to open the game. Penn State and Northwestern each made 1 of 6 field goal attempts (16.7 percent) in the first five minutes. The Wildcats went on a scoring drought for over four minutes during which the Nittany Lions built an 8-2 lead.

Northwestern’s struggles persisted as they scored just nine points through the first 13 and a half minutes of the game. A free throw by Crawford at the 6:26 mark of the first half finally put Northwestern in double digits and ended a 12-0 run by Penn State, with the Nittany Lions leading 22-10.

Penn State built a double-digit lead midway through the first half thanks to good ball movement and timely 3-pointers. Penn State led by as many as 20 points in the first half and took a 32-15 lead into halftime.

With the Wildcats trailing 39-17, Northwestern head coach Chris Collins was given a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct during the under-16 media timeout. Collins was berating the officials because he believed Penn State should have been called for a three-second violation the previous possession. Tim Frazier ultimately scored on that possession to put Penn State ahead by 22.

Defensive breakdowns created open looks for Penn State on the perimeter throughout the game. Taylor made 3 of 5 3-point attempts while John Johnson (eight points) was 2 for 2.

It was a tough final home game for Crawford, one of the best players in Northwestern’s history. Crawford, who is ranked in the top 5 in 11 different statistical career categories, scored only six points in 38 minutes of action and shot 1 for 4 from the free throw line.