Penn State picked up its second-straight win on Saturday, holding off a feisty Northwestern squad at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions were paced by Izaiah Brockington’s 21 points on an effective 6-for-13 shooting from the floor while Penn State went 20-for-26 from the line as a team.
In truth, a back-and-forth game could have been in Penn State’s win column far sooner, the Nittany Lions missing a handful of late free throws, just enough to give the Wildcats a last-gasp three point attempt that would have sent the game to overtime.
It didn’t fall, but it could have.
Despite the tense final seconds of regulation, Penn State made timely shots all night getting balanced scoring from Brockington and usual deadeye shooter Myreon Jones (15 points and eight rebounds) to two different three-point makes by Jamari Wheeler at key moments, his second coming with 1:09 to play to put Penn State ahead by six.
“I feel like this is the most connected we’ve been all season because only a connected team wins that game,” Brockington said after the game. “We were down going into the final minutes and we just knew we had to come up with big stops, make big plays, and the guys did that and I’m proud of them.”
Penn State led by just five at the break 38-33 and pushed that margin out to nine point in the early stages of the second half. Northwestern would eventually respond with a 12-0 run, later taking a four-point lead with just under five minutes remaining.
In total the game saw 18 different lead changes and nine different occasions when the score was tied, but as Penn State made seven of its last 13 attempts from the field in the game’s final minutes, it was just enough to hang on for the victory.
“It was definitely frustrating when we did lose the lead, but that’s how the Big Ten is. No matter how much of a lead you have, teams aren’t just going to give up,” Brockington added. “Teams aren’t going to lay down and die. They’re going to come at you with everything they have.”
An often overmatched interior unit won the battle on the glass for a second-straight game as John Harrar pulled down 10 rebounds for a second-straight game with rebounding figures in double-digits. Seth Lundy added seven rebounds of his own to go with 16 points. Sam Sessoms continued his own strong play chipping in 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor.
The victory continues a bounce back from an 0-5 start in a stacked Big Ten. Penn State was slated to face Michigan this coming Wednesday but Michigan athletics announced on Saturday a two-week pause for the entire department. It’s unclear if the Big Ten would tweak the schedule for a second game.
If no game were to fill the gap, Penn State will next take the court next Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center against No. 10 Wisconsin.
In either case, the Nittany Lions will take Sunday off, having just completed a four game stretch over the past seven days.