It has been a season full of ups and downs for the Penn State Nittany Lions (18-12, 9-10 Big Ten). After Sunday’s crushing loss to Rutgers, Penn State basketball had its back pressed against the wall — on Wednesday night, the Lions hit the road to face the quad one Northwestern Wildcats (20-10, 11-8 Big Ten), and earned a gritty quad one win in overtime.
Penn State basketball starts slow, though remains in the game
After melting down and blowing a massive 19-point lead against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Penn State Nittany Lions headed to Welsh-Ryan Arena just north of Chicago to face Northwestern. Early on, it was clear that Penn State was in their own heads; however, a Seth Lundy dunk appeared to get the Lions to focus up. Five minutes into the game, Northwestern managed to cling onto an 8-5 lead.
Northwestern extended its lead to 10-5 before a TV timeout with 14:20 remaining in the half — throughout the first six minutes, Penn State basketball was playing sloppily and taking poor, rushed shots. After a short scoring drought, Penn State got back on the board with a bucket from freshman guard Kanye Clary — the Nittany Lions still trailed by seven at the time. A minutes later, Northwestern pushed its lead to ten with another 3-pointer.
With 4:16 remaining in the half, Penn State star Andrew Funk buried three free throws to make it a 23-17 game — the Nittany Lions were closing in, and a three from Seth Lundy made it a one bucket game. A long two-ball from Jalen Pickett forced a Northwestern timeout — the Wildcats’ lead had shrunk to one point as Northwestern took a timeout.
After a sloppy first half, the Penn State Nittany Lions trailed Northwestern by four — heading into the intermission the scoreboard read Northwestern 28, Penn State 24. After an awful performance against Rutgers on Sunday, Penn State sharpshooter Seth Lundy was the Nittany Lions’ leading scorer with eight at the break — in all, Lundy totaled 14 points, six rebounds, and one block.
“First of all — and I told coach Collins this afterwards — it’s been fun watching [Northwestern] play this year,” Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said after the game. “We had to come in here and battle, and I’m just so proud of our guys. Every time we haven’t played well and every time we’ve lost or something has happened, [the team] has responded every single time. Our leadership and our poise came through — I am a way better coach with a guy like Cam Wynter sitting next to me.”
Penn State first half stats
- Penn State trailed 28-24 at the break.
- Seth Lundy led the Lions with eight points — he was followed by Andrew Funk and Cameron Wynter, who both scored six.
- Penn State basketball was shooting 38.1% from the floor (23.1% from the floor).
- At one point in the first half, the Nittany Lions had 10 points and nine turnovers.
- Penn State only led for 18 seconds throughout the entire first half.
- Over the past 40 minutes (second half vs. Rutgers, first half vs. Northwestern), Jalen Pickett attempted four total shots.
Gritty second half leads to overtime
To open the second half, Penn State basketball star Cam Wynter drilled a 3-pointer to bring the game back within one. After getting a stop on the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions Wynter sunk another jumper to give the Nittany Lions a one-point lead — this lead was short-lived as Northwestern buried a three just seconds later to make it a 31-29 game in the Wildcats’ favor. Northwestern added to that lead on their next trip down the court, and put Penn State right back into a two-bucket hole.
Andrew Funk brought the game back within two with 17:15 remaining in the game, though Funk sunk another three and gave Penn State its third lead of the game. Seth Lundy buried another Penn State 3-pointer, giving the Nittany Lions a 37-33 lead and prompting a Northwestern timeout. Right out of the timeout, the Wildcats turned the ball over, which led to an offensive foul, giving the Wildcats the ball right back
After a short scoring drought, Northwestern scored twice and tied the game up at 37-37 with 13 minutes remaining.
A vicious back-and-forth half saw the Penn State Nittany Lions trailing by three points with four minutes remaining in the game, with the score at 58-55 in Northwestern’s favor. With 2:20 remaining, Cam Wynter sunk a 3-pointer to tie the game at 58-58 before Northwestern drilled one of its two free throws to retake the lead at 59-58 with two minutes left.
Northwestern’s lead was erased by Andrew Funk, who sunk another Nittany Lion three just moments later. All of Penn State’s shooters proved to be too much for Northwestern’s defense in the second half as 30 of Penn State’s late points came from beyond the arc.
“[Jalen Picket] is [Penn State’s] inside presence, and they’ve done a great job of surrounding him with elite shooting,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said after the game. “They spread those guys, and their inside threat is Pickett, which is unique because he’s their point guard… you gotta be really smart, you gotta be really dialed in, because [Pickett] can really pass… I think that’s what makes them tough — they’re really difficult to defend.”
A goaltend was called on Penn State to tie the game at 61-61 with 1:10 remaining in the game — with 40 seconds remaining, Northwestern regained possession and took a timeout. Two halves of basketball was not enough to settle this game, so the two teams headed to overtime.
Northwestern started overtime with a pair of free throws, though Penn State basketball re-gained the lead behind a Cam Wynter three. The Wildcats responded with another two before Seth Lundy’s three rimmed out. With 2:00 showing on the clock, Northwestern’s lead was one. Penn State’s Evan Mahaffey tied the game at 65-65 after hitting one of his two free throws before the Nittany Lions got a defensive stop.
With 35.5 seconds showing on the clock, Penn State basketball re-gained possession — with 0.7 seconds remaining, Cam Wynter finished off his astounding game with a massive 3-pointer, which gave the Nittany Lions a 68-65 lead.
After the Rutgers loss, coach Micah Shrewsberry was adamant that the loss was on his shoulders — time and time again, Shrewsberry circled back to being “out-coached” and insinuated that he let his team down. Tonight, the story appeared to be a bit different as the Nittany Lions pulled off the late comeback victory on the road.
“Just putting our guys in a better position,” Shrewsberry said. “I’ve been trying to do that — trying to look at what I thought they might do and trying to help us in the best way. I didn’t feel like I helped in the right way [against Rutgers]. But, I apologized to our team, and that’s a mature group that we have, and they can bounce back really quickly — they were back in the gym on Monday morning. Seth Lundy is back in the gym working on his game, [Jalen] Pickett is back in the gym, Cam [Wynter], [Andrew] Funk, all those guys were in there picking themselves up. They shook it off really quickly.”
Wynter leads Nittany Lions to massive quad one win
Despite Penn State’s recent shooting woes, star sharp shooter Cam Wynter showed great poise and accumulated 24 points against Northwestern — this is a great sign of things to come for Wynter and the Nittany Lions after falling short last weekend.
“We just got back in the gym and keep working,” Wynter told CJ Mangum of Basic Blues Nation. “That’s what we’ve done all year, and no matter how the game goes, everyone just flips the page and just keeps working and gets back in the gym.”
Second half stats
- Cameron Wynter led the Lions in scoring with 24 points on 9-15 shooting (4-5 from three).
- Penn State uncharacteristically had 13 turnovers on the night, compared to Northwestern’s five.
- There were 12 ties and 22 lead changes throughout the game.
- The Nittany Lions only led for 4:51 in the entire game.
- Final score: Penn State 68, Northwestern, 65
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