Nittany Lions Continue Mastery Of Northwestern, 81-70
Feb. 17, 2010
EVANSTON, ILL., Feb. 17, 2010 - Penn State got a terrific team effort with five players scoring in double-figures as the Nittany Lions continued their mastery of Northwestern with an 81-70 win over the Wildcats Wednesday in Evanston.
David Jackson logged 20 points, his career-best seventh-straight double-figure game, and Chris Babb added career-highs of 20 points and six assists himself as Penn State (9-16; 1-12 Big Ten) hit 20-of-23 at the foul line and 56 percent from the floor to gain its first Big Ten win of the season. Northwestern (17-9; 6-8 Big Ten) got 17 points from John Shurna and Michael Thompson, but was out-rebounded 36-21 and out-scored by 16 points at the foul line.
The Nittany Lions got 12 points from Jeff Brooks, and 10 each from Andrew Jones and Talor Battle as all five Lion starters scored in double-digits. Battle, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms prior to the game, tied Babb for a team high with six assists and equaled Jones for a team-high with seven boards. Penn State scored its most points vs. a Big Ten opponent in three seasons as the Lions improved to 9-8 in Evanston and won for the seventh time in eight games vs. the Wildcats.
Penn State opened the game crisp and with energy as the Lions jumped to a 5-0 lead behind a bucket from Jackson and a three from Babb. The Lions got scoring from eight players in the half, including eight off the bench and 16 in the paint, a big improvement on Saturday's performance vs. No. 10 Michigan State.
Penn State hit 5-of-10 from three and 53.8 percent from the floor in the first half while Northwestern hit 5-of-12 from the arc and 54 percent from the floor. The Lions got a huge half from Jackson who hit four field goals and 3-of-3 at the line for 12 points.
Penn State saw a four-point halftime lead cut to one after a Luka Mirkovic three made it 41-40 early in the second. Babb hit Jones on the block for a dunk and then found Jackson for a lay-up to build a 47-42 lead with 15:39 to play.
Babb's three pushed the margin to seven, 52-45, with 13:15 remaining and when Brooks followed a Tim Frazier miss with a two-handed flush the margin was nine. Alex Marcotullio hit a three to cut the lead to six but Northwestern failed to capitalize as the Lions went three minutes without scoring. Jackson broke the drought with a pair of free throws to push the lead back to eight.
Northwestern mounted a 6-0 charge behind a jumper from Thompson, a lay-up from Mirkovic and a pair of free throws from Jeremy Nash who swiped the ball from Battle. The Lions were clinging to a 56-54 lead with 8:20 to play and appeared to be teetering.
But, four straight free throws from Babb and Jones and a lay-up from Battle pushed the lead back to eight over the next 90 seconds. Northwestern would get back within six, 64-58, with 5:18 to play when Babb hit a big three off a feed from Battle to push the margin to nine with 4:12 to play.
Northwestern would make its final charge with a 5-0 run on a three from Shurna and a lay-up from Mirkovic to get within four, 69-65, with 2:15 to play. Penn State worked the ball around the zone patiently until Babb pump faked a three, took the ball baseline and drained a 12-foot baseline jumper with 1:36 to play.
Northwestern began to foul and Penn State hit 10-of-12 from the charity stripe down the stretch to stave off any comeback attempts. The Lions hit 87 percent from the line on the night including perfect nights from Jackson (5-5) and Babb (6-6).
The teams played close the entire first half. Northwestern tied the game at 14 on a Drew Crawford dunk and then took a 16-14 lead on a turn-around baseline jumper from Shurna.
Freshman Tim Frazier hit a jumper and then got a steal and a lay-up to put Penn State back up, 22-21, but the Wildcats reeled off six straight as Thompson buried a pair of threes and NU took a 27-22 lead, it's largest of the game. Thompson and Shurna led the Wildcats with 10 points in the half.
The Lions then ran of a 9-0 run of their own behind Jackson and Babb. The pair both buried threes and then Babb fed Jackson with a sweet cross-court pass against NU's 1-3-1 zone. Jackson converted and was fouled and hit the free throw for the three-point play that gave Penn State a 31-27 lead with 3:16 to play.
The Wildcats responded with a top of the key three from Jeremy Nash. Penn State ran down the final seconds of the half and found Brooks in the corner for a three that gave the Lions a 36-32 lead going into halftime.
Penn State will return to the road Saturday when they head to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in a 6:00 p.m. tip on the Big Ten Network. Penn State has won just once in 15 previous games in Ann Arbor, taking down the Wolverines in 1999 behind 17 points from Joe Crispin and 16 points and 11 boards from Calvin Booth. Michigan came back from 16 down in the second half earlier this season to post a 64-55 victory in State College in early January. The teams have split the last four meetings.
- Nittany Lions -