Rapid Recap: Northwestern 70, Penn State 61


Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

Anthony Gaines looks to make a pass. The freshman guard had another effective day off the bench for NU.

Ben Pope, Managing Editor

Men’s Basketball

ROSEMONT — After a late rally fell short on Wednesday against Ohio State, Northwestern’s newfound affinity for comebacks paid off Saturday afternoon with a 70-61 win over Penn State.

Despite trailing for more than 30 minutes of the game, the Wildcats (12-9, 3-5 Big Ten) erupted on an 11-0 run to take the lead in the final six minutes—bringing another sparsely attended Allstate Arena crowd to some of its highest decibel levels of the winter—and maintained that advantage to the final horn.

Four players scored in double digits for NU, led by senior forward Vic Law’s 18 points and senior guard Scottie Lindsey’s 13. Penn State (13-8, 3-5) shot an impressive 51 percent from the floor but missed each of its last 11 field goal attempts down the stretch.

The Cats fell behind by as many as 9 points early on, but rallied to take the lead briefly on several occasions late in the first half, including on back-to-back 3-pointers by Law and Lindsey that snapped the team’s 0-for-6 start from deep. Shep Garner completed his spectacular half with the last bucket of the frame, however, which gave Penn State a 35-33 edge at the break.


1. NU looked much improved in the paint. Two weeks ago, this same Penn State team humiliated the Cats all around the basket en route to a 48-18 differential in points in the paint. Saturday, NU showed it had clearly gameplanned and prepared for the Nittany Lions’ physicality, and claimed a 40-24 victory in the points in the paint category (plus a 16-6 differential in offensive rebounds). Pardon led the effort with a number of post-up layups.

2. Zone defense doesn’t work well against one hot player. It was readily apparent from very early on Saturday afternoon that Garner had brought his shooting touch. The veteran guard made three 3s in the first six minutes of the game and entered halftime with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, ultimately finishing with 22 points despite cooling off after the break.

The zone defense that Chris Collins’ squad had deployed the last few games wasn’t designed to focus on just one man, so Garner was consistently able to find holes in the rotation even after it was clear he was the Nittany Lions’ most dangerous threat.

3. The road will be a major challenge for the Cats. After playing four of their last six games technically at home in Allstate Arena, five of NU’s next six games are on the road, including visits to Michigan, Wisconsin and Maryland. The Cats avoided carrying a three-game losing streak into that stretch thanks to Saturday’s victory, but will nonetheless have their work cut out for them starting Tuesday in Minnesota.

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