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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Fall 71-61 To Northwestern

by on March 03, 2016 11:30 PM

The problem with being down 20 is that it only takes a few baskets to kill a comeback.

So with Penn State and Northwestern separated by just four points with 5:27 to play, Jordan Dickerson was whistled for an offensive foul setting a screen as the Nittany Lions roared back into the game.

But from there it was a 9-2 run for the Wildcats and a 64-53 margin with 3:05 to play. And from there the rest was history.

"They made a valiant, valiant comeback," Pat Chambers said after the game. "But there were just too many points to overcome tonight. We looked a little stuck in mud in the first half. It was too late for us when we finally woke up and started to play Penn State basketball."

Penn State's first half was perhaps a predictable one for a team that had been shooting the lights out of the Bryce Jordan Center. The shots finally failed to fall and Northwestern opened the game with six first half three-pointers to keep the Nittany Lions at arms reach leading 42-27 at the break. Penn State went 10-of-28 from the field in the opening 20 minutes of play and trailed by just four points with 5:17 to go and in the final 1:54 ballooning that lead to 15 thanks in large part to two Penn State turnovers and a jumper by Bryant McIntosh at the buzzer to make it 42-27.

Like most games though, especially over the back half of this season, the Nittany Lions didn't crumple in the second half and found a way to claw back into the game after falling behind by 20 with 16:54 to go in regulation. A three by Payton Banks and Isaiah Washington on back-to-back possessions cut it to just 14. Brandon Taylor added five more points to make it a 12-point margin and an eventual 8-0 run made it 48-53 with 8:35 to go and with the crowd back in full voice.

Penn State never got closer than four points though, but it wasn't until the 3:05 mark and two free throws by Gavin Skelly that pushed the Wildcat lead back to double figures and effectively killing the 20-point comeback. The Nittany Lions managed to get the game within single digits at 64-55 just inside three minutes to play, but scored just once in those final minutes before Josh Reaves' free throws made it 70-59 and a layup the game's final margin.

The Nittany Lions fall to 6-11 in conference play and will finish the regular season this Sunday against Illinois.

"Come back tomorrow with your head high, get to work and finish strong on Sunday." Chambers said.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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