Rapid Recap: Penn State 67, Northwestern 60


Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

Junior guard Boo Buie dribbles the ball. Buie had eight points and seven assists in Northwestern’s 67-60 loss to Penn State on Friday.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Northwestern entered Friday’s contest against Penn State with two goals in mind: 1) avenge its collapse and loss to the Nittany Lions earlier in the season and 2) take a step closer to 10th place and an opening round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Wildcats failed to accomplish their mission, though, falling on the road 67-60.

Junior guard Boo Buie was the catalyst for much of NU’s early offensive gains. Operating in NU’s patented pick-and-roll with senior forward Pete Nance, the New York native picked apart Penn State early. Buie scored or assisted on all nine of the Cats points before the under-16 timeout, appearing as comfortable as he has been all season in the first period. 

NU and Penn State were knotted up at 15-15 at the under-12 timeout, but the pair of teams each regressed back to the mean after the relatively hot start. 

Exiting the break, the pair of squads struggled heavily from the field, combining for 13 points over the next six minutes. Each team’s struggles were different, though. The Nittany Lions were simply unable to buy a bucket, as players were unable to connect on relatively open 3-point attempts. 

The Cats, meanwhile, were hampered by Buie’s absence, as he was benched at the 8:51 mark after picking up a second personal foul. Offensive creation then fell primarily on redshirt junior guard Chase Audige – more of a slasher than primary creator. Despite Audige’s shooting woes (2-for-9 from the field in the first half), NU was able to keep Penn State at bay, carrying a 28-22 lead into the intermission.

The Nittany Lions stormed out of the break, cutting the lead to two, but the Cats’ battle-tested duo of Buie and Nance countered the onslaught. NU’s lead was trimmed to three points by the under-16 timeout, as the Cats appeared/were destined for another narrow race to the finish. Penn State reclaimed the lead 40-39 behind a quartet of consecutive buckets before the under-12. 

Redshirt junior center Ryan Young kept NU in it with six points and a crucial dump-down pass to graduate student forward Elyjah Williams to tie the game at 43-43, with just under 10 minutes left. First-year Julian Roper II handed NU a 46-43 lead with a three just before the under-eight timeout.

The rim seemingly widened for the Nittany Lions in the second half, especially in the waning moments of the half. Penn State’s rapid ball movement and middle penetration in the Cats’ 3-2 zone opened up looks for several players, as the home team knocked down nine shots from 3-point range.

The lead appeared too much to overcome, but that didn’t stop NU from narrowing the margin in the final 60 seconds of the game. A Buie touch shot cut the Nittany Lion lead to 61-57 with 39.0 seconds to play. The Cats failed to convert late as Penn State earned the season sweep.


  • Northwestern offense reaps benefits of a settled and locked in Buie

The major knock to Boo Buie’s three years in Evanston has been his questionable decision making at times. You know the shots: the pull-up 3-pointer from 30 feet with 26 seconds left on the shot clock or the forced, off-balanced runner in the lane. And while Buie can be critiqued for these decisions, these are shots that he hit when he’s really feeling himself. It’s something coach Chris Collins can live with. But Buie’s early performance against the Nittany Lions is indicative of how much he can affect the team as a settled point guard, rather than a shoot-first one. Buie was uber settled in the first half in the pick-and-roll with Nance, and the offense reaped the benefits. Friday’s Buie was the point guard NU needs to be at its best, especially if a Big Ten Tournament run is to become a possibility.

  • Penn State’s late second-half 3-point shooting earns the win

The Nittany Lions were cold from 3-point range in the first half, hitting only four shots from distance on 17 attempts. But Penn State’s stubbornness from beyond the arc paid off as the nets at the Bryce Jordan Center caught fire. The Nittany Lions, led by guard Dallion Johnson who was 5-for-8 from deep, connected on nine of 16 threes en route to the win.

  • Visiting Cats unable to avenge earlier loss

On Jan. 5 in Evanston the Cats led by five at halftime. On Feb. 25, NU held a six-point advantage at the intermission. Nance and Buie were the two best starters on the floor in both games. And yet, Penn State was able to mount second-half comebacks in both games as the Nittany Lions sweep the Cats in the regular season.

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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