Rapid Recap: Northwestern 78, Penn State 72


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Veronica Burton faces a Penn State defender in their January contest. Burton tallied 22 points in Northwestern’s 78-72 win over Penn State on Sunday, and briefly left the game in the third quarter with a leg injury.

MaryKate Anderson, Reporter

Northwestern traveled to Happy Valley on Sunday looking to even the score with Penn State, which took downed the Wildcats in Evanston 63-59 earlier this year.

NU (13-8, 5-5 Big Ten), which broke its four-game losing streak on Friday night at Purdue, found a 78-72 victory over the Nittany Lions (9-13, 3-9) Sunday afternoon. Despite facing a nine-point deficit near the end of the third quarter, the Cats found more efficient shooting late and ultimately took home the win. 

Junior guard Laya Hartman scored the first points of the contest for NU, with a jumper just beyond the paint. And though Penn State was ready to respond with its own layups, the Cats continued to shoot well from all areas of the court. But NU could not recover from Penn State’s 12-0 run midway through the quarter. The momentum shifted in the Nittany Lions’ favor, and the Cats left the period down 28-18.

NU kicked off the second quarter with three-pointers from freshman forward Jillian Brown and senior guard Veronica Burton. While the Cats were unable to force any Penn State turnovers in the first quarter, the Nittany Lions committed seven in the second. The improved presence of the NU defense in the second quarter cut its deficit by six and sent it to halftime with a score of 39-37. 

The Cats looked unbeatable to start the second half, going on an 13-2 run in the first three minutes behind multiple threes from Brown and Hartman. Penn State rallied to again tie the game 50-50 just as Burton fell to the ground with a leg injury and left the court with 13 points on the game. 

From there the Nittany Lions picked up their pace, forcing four NU turnovers in the two minutes without Burton, and shifted the momentum heavily in their favor. Burton ultimately reentered the game, though seemingly with limited mobility, and the Cats left the third quarter down 62-55.

Burton’s obstacle did not last long — NU found its groove behind the arc in the fourth quarter as Penn State struggled from the same spot. The squad went 3-for-6 from three in the final quarter compared to the Nittany Lions’ 0-for-4, and ultimately the Cats sailed ahead to victory. 

NU again successfully distributed points among the team, with five players scoring in the double digits: Burton, Brown, Hartman, graduate guard Lauryn Satterwhite, and freshman guard Melannie Daley. 


  • Veronica Burton’s injury setback casts (brief) cloud over win

Burton, the team’s leading scorer and key playmaker, exited the game in the middle of the third quarter with a leg injury. Penn State was able to take advantage and quickly racked up points against the off-balance NU squad in the absence of the two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. While Burton ultimately reentered the game, she seemed slightly more sluggish than normal. However, the Cats ultimately rediscovered their earlier momentum and Burton finished with an impressive 22 points. 

  • Marisa’s successes pace the Nittany Lions

Penn State’s Makenna Marisa found her groove early in the contest, shooting 7-for-10 from the field for 17 of the team’s 39 points in the first half. Her finesse in the paint overpowered NU’s defense through the first half, but her savvy dwindled in the second. The Cats held Marisa to four second half points on nine shots. Marisa notched 20 points in the last meeting between the two teams. 

  • The Cats make the trip to Minnesota on Friday

NU’s road stretch continues this week, with a Friday matchup in Minneapolis. The two teams were scheduled to meet on New Year’s Eve, but the contest was postponed due to COVID-19 cases with the Wildcats’ program. They last faced off in Evanston in Dec. 2020, where NU took down the Golden Gophers with a definitive 80-51 win behind 20 points from Veronica Burton. 

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