Rapid Recap: Penn State 59, Northwestern 52


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Anthony Gaines rises for a two-handed dunk. The sophomore guard made his fifth start of the season.

Andrew Golden and Peter Warren

Men’s Basketball

For the third straight outing, Northwestern shot a poor percentage from the floor. And for the third straight game, the Wildcats lost.

This time, it was to a previously winless-in-conference Penn State squad, and at home, as NU (12-10, 3-8 Big Ten) fell 59-52.

In front of a half-filled Welsh-Ryan Arena, the start for the Cats was as good as it could possibly get. When play stopped for the under-16 media timeout, NU was up 10-2 and was in complete control of the contest. Both graduate guard Ryan Taylor and sophomore guard Anthony Gaines hit two baskets during the first five minutes to propel to the Cats to the early lead.

But, the Nittany Lions (8-14, 1-10) would not be fazed and immediately began to cut the deficit. Penn State went on a 10-2 run of their own to tie the game at 12, and then the two Big Ten opponents went back and forth trading leads.

The game looked to be tied at 30 heading into the half, but a foul on Rasir Bolton gave the Nittany Lions two free-throw opportunities to put Penn State up two at the break.

In the second half, the Cats looked to feed senior center Dererk Pardon. The Cleveland native hit the first two shots of the half for NU, but then the Cats started to spread the ball around and shots could not find the bottom of the net. The Nittany Lions were not doing much better, but did enough to take a 45-37 lead at the 10-minute mark.

Soon enough, momentum started to swing when Pardon slammed home a put-back dunk. NU forced a turnover on the next Penn State possession while Law nailed a nifty step-back three-pointer to cut the deficit to three.

The Cats could not get the lead back, but continued to keep it close as the game went down the stretch. Everytime it seemed NU was on its way back to taking the lead, a mistake cost them.


1. Anthony Gaines came out aggressive. The sophomore guard started the game as one of the primary ball handlers and the move paid dividends for the Cats. NU started the game on a 10-2 run with Gaines pushing the pace. On one highlight play, Gaines received an outlet pass around the three-point line and drove the ball all the way down the court for an “and-one” transition finish. His infectious energy persisted throughout the game. With about 90 seconds left in the first half, Gaines did a great job defending the closest pass and was able to steal the ball and finish the play with a two-hand slam. Throughout the half, Gaines was aggressive off the bounce and tried to attack the rim. He also was around the offensive glass and was able to tip a few 50-50 balls out towards the three-point line, despite being the smallest player in the scrum.

His aggressiveness did not always result in positive plays. He picked up a technical fall for slapping a ball out of Lamar Stevens hands after a foul call, which gave him four fouls early in the second half. That neutralized his impact in the second half, but whenever he was on the hardwood of Welsh-Ryan Arena on Monday, he brought a different dimension to the Cats.

2. Chris Collins alters the starting lineup. For the first time since the second game this season, redshirt junior A.J. Turner started the game on the bench. Collins opted to start fellow redshirt junior Aaron Falzon, who has played well in the last couple of games. Turner had primarily served as the team’s main ball handler for most of the season, but senior forward Vic Law and sophomore Anthony Gaines handed those responsibilities instead.

In his first start since last season, Falzon didn’t have an effect on the game at all, attempting and missing all three of his shots behind the arc. On the other hand, Turner hit two of his three attempts from behind the arc, but went 2-for-7 from the field for the game. Despite the lineup change, it didn’t have the effect that Collins likely imagined offensively.

3. Where is NU’s offense? The Wildcats have been searching for a pulse on the offensive side of the ball. Even against the worst team in the Big Ten, NU couldn’t get anything going offensively. Despite a promising 4-for-7 start from the field, the Wildcats finished with a 31.7 field percentage.

The past three games have been a nightmare for NU on the offensive end. After shooting 29.6 and 31 percent against Wisconsin and Maryland respectively, the Cats, once again, looked off and couldn’t get anything going.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @andrewcgolden

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @thepeterwarren