Rapid Recap: Penn State 74, Northwestern 70


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior guard Boo Buie attempts a 3-pointer against New Orleans. Buie tallied 22 points in Northwestern’s 74-70 loss against Penn State.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Coming off a weekend loss to Michigan State, Northwestern entered Wednesday’s game against Penn State looking for their first win in 2022. 

In the Northwestern Gothic uniforms, the Wildcats (8-4, 1-2 Big Ten) couldn’t hold onto a double-digit second-half lead, falling to the Nittany Lions 74-70.

The Wildcats appeared to leave their shooting struggles from Sunday in the rearview mirror, burying three of their first five attempts from beyond the arc to grab an early 11-6 lead. Coach Chris Collins said NU would hoist 3-pointers and the Cats did just that in the first half, connecting on seven of 15 attempts from distance.

Penn State quickly battled back behind a 90-second, 7-0 run that was cut short by junior guard Boo Buie’s 3-pointer from the top of the key. In a game that was up-and-down from the jump, Collins went to the bench early, with 10 players featuring in the opening eight minutes.

The Cats and Nittany Lions (7-5, 2-2) continued to exchange buckets as a fall-away jumper from Penn State guard Jalen Pickett to retake the lead at 29-28 late in the first half. But a running floater from Buie, accompanied by a Ty Berry fastbreak layup and a pair of free throws from senior forward Pete Nance provided NU a five-point cushion at the intermission, leading 34-29.

Buie, who totaled 10 points in the first period, picked up right where he left off in the second half, connecting on two early 3-pointers. Junior forward Robbie Beran’s and-one gave the Cats a 45-36 lead. But NU couldn’t put the game away. An illegal screen from Berry put Penn State in the bonus with 13-plus minutes remaining and a Pickett jumper cut the Cats’ lead to four. 

Then, the basketball gods blessed NU with a much needed four-point play from Berry. Again, the Nittany Lions didn’t fold and it was a quick 4-0 spurt from Buie that forced Penn State into a timeout with NU leading 53-43. The Cats were unable to extend the lead, as three straight buckets from Penn State saw a 10-point lead evaporate to just four, prompting a Collins timeout.

The Nittany Lions’ momentum continued out of the break, as their 11-2 late run tied the game at 59-59 with just over three minutes remaining in the half. 

As the half wound to a close, Penn State forward Seth Lundy and Nance went back-and-forth exchanging buckets. Lundy had a four-point play that was followed by a pair of Nance field goals. But the Nittany Lion buried a second three in Nance’s face to give the Nittany Lions a 66-63 lead with 34.6 seconds remaining. A Lundy and-one all but iced the game as NU fell at home for the second time in four days.


  • Northwestern continues to share the ball

The Wildcats lead the Big Ten with a 2.09 assist-to-turnover ratio and that ball protection shone brightly against the Nittany Lions. In the first half, seven different players recorded an assist as NU notched 10 total on 12 made field goals, with just two turnovers. The Cats were a little more loose with the ball in the second half, tallying 10 assists, while turning the ball over six times. Nevertheless, after the performance against the Spartans where the offense frequently stalled in the halfcourt, leading to contested isolation shot attempts, the ball movement and security featured against Penn State was a welcomed sign.

  • Buie lights it up 

The Albany, N.Y. native struggled mightily against the Spartans, shooting 3-for-13 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range. It was a total reversal tonight as Buie poured in 22 points on an efficient 8-for-14 shooting, including 5-for-8 from deep. An on-form Buie is a tremendous asset for Collins and the Cats, especially with NCAA Tournament prospects potentially on the horizon as conference play heats up.

  • NU opens Big Ten play with disappointing start, with opportunities on the horizon

After falling to Penn State, the Cats are 1-2 to start conference play. The Big Ten is once again deep and competitive, but anything can happen on any given night. After two consecutive home conference losses, Collins and this NU squad are approaching their toughest five-game stretch of the season and will need to turn the page quickly. Matchups against top-25 opponents in Ohio State, Michigan State (again), Wisconsin and Purdue, along with a home game against Maryland provides resume-boosting opportunities for the Cats.

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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