Men’s Basketball: Northwestern can’t capitalize on Penn State’s sloppiness, suffers crushing road loss


Joanne Haner/The Daily Northwestern

Pete Nance plays defense. Nance led Northwestern with 12 points in its 67-60 loss to Penn State.

Patrick Andres, Sports Editor

The following two sentences are true: Penn State turned the ball over 14 times against Northwestern in State College on Friday, and the Wildcats turned it over four times. The Nittany Lions defeated NU 67-60. 

With the win, Penn State (12-13, 7-10 Big Ten) swept the Cats (13-14, 6-12 Big Ten) in the regular season for the first time since 2011. NU fell to 11th in the conference, a precarious position as it seeks to avoid playing in the Big Ten Tournament’s dreaded first round.

The Cats led the Nittany Lions by six at the half despite an awful offensive start by both teams. The teams took 59 field goals in the first half between them and made just 18. The box score was riddled with unsightly shooting lines at the break, including a 2-for-9 (by redshirt junior guard Chase Audige), a 3-for-8 (by senior forward Pete Nance) and a 2-for-6 (by Penn State guard Jalen Pickett). 

NU took its largest lead 40 seconds into the second half, as junior guard Boo Buie hit a jumper to stake the Cats to a 30-23 advantage. Nittany Lions forward John Harrar responded with a dunk, and Penn State set about whittling away at the NU lead. 

The Nittany Lions took the lead for the first time in the second half with 14:14 to go when guard Dallion Johnson knocked down his second three of the period. The Cats spent the next few minutes playing catch-up, finally wrestling the lead back behind a three-pointer from freshman guard Julian Roper II with 8:03 to play. 

From then on, NU’s late-game ghosts began to rear their ugly heads. It took Penn State less than two minutes to reclaim the lead after the Cats went up by five, as Johnson hit two more three-pointers to pull the Nittany Lions ahead 49-48. A Pickett layup made it 51-50 Penn State with 4:30 on the clock, and NU never led again after that.

Nance scored 12 points for the Cats in the win, while Audige and sophomore guard Ty Berry added 11 apiece. Buie led both teams with seven assists. Meanwhile, Harrar pulled down 20 rebounds for the Nittany Lions. 

The loss dropped NU back below .500 and marked its fourth loss in five games after a three-game winning streak. Each of the last two defeats have come against unranked teams, following a surprise blowout loss at Minnesota Saturday afternoon. 

Despite NU’s persistent struggles, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello wrote this week that it was “hard to find anyone who doesn’t think” coach Chris Collins will return for the 2023 season.

The Cats will have two final cracks at boosting their stock before the conference tournament. They’ll visit No. 25 Iowa on Monday before wrapping up the regular season at home against Minnesota on Sunday. 

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Twitter: @pandres2001

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