Northwestern Edges Penn State with Late Free Throws
The Northwestern University Wildcats (17-11, 7-9 Big Ten) got by the Penn State Nittany Lions (12-17, 4-12 Big Ten) 67-66 Saturday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State wrapped up its final home game of the season in dramatic fashion, as the Wildcats came into town and took the game down to the wire.
Most of the offensive output for Northwestern came from beyond the arc with the Wildcats shooting over 50 percent, while the Nittany Lions shot a dismal 21 percent from 3 point land.
“We knew they were going to shoot threes,” said junior guard Tim Frazier, “and we had to make them shoot tough threes but sometimes they got open ones.”
Head coach for Penn State Patrick Chambers said the fact that Northwestern shot well from beyond the arc was no big surprise to him.
“I was not surprised by how many threes they made," Chambers said. "I know they are very skilled and they have good shooters.”
The Nittany Lions relied heavily on their play down low as they scored 40 points in the paint with contributions from forwards Jon Graham and Ross Travis, as well as the constant drive-to-the-net play of guard Tim Frazier. All three players combined for 43 of the Nittany Lions’ 66 points.
In the first half, the Wildcats had established their success from three-point range as they went 8-16, at one point helping them to a 15-2 run over Penn State.
The half was riddled with sloppy play by both teams for a combined 13 turnovers and Northwestern held a 34-28 lead at halftime. However, Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody was not happy with only a six point lead for his team.
“I thought that the few minutes before halftime we were careless and we should have had a larger lead,” he explained, “I was very disappointed at halftime.”
The Nittany Lions fought back at the start of the second half, including a nice drive to the lane and dunk by Tim Frazier that led to the loudest cheer from the crowd up to that point.
Penn State finally took the lead 52-49 behind a 3 pointer from Cammeron Woodyard. The game was then a back-and-forth battle with several threes being dropped by both teams, but the game was ultimately decided by free throws in the waning seconds.
With just under three minutes to go in the second half, Tim Frazier completed another three point play with a drive to the net to put Penn State up by one point 66-65.
After trading several missed shots, Penn State forward Jon Graham was fouled with 14 seconds left with a chance to put Penn State up by three points. Instead, he missed both free throws in front of a groaning Penn State crowd.
Northwestern used the 14 seconds left in regulation to earn a pair of free throws after Graham fouled forward John Shurna. Shurna, unlike Graham, dropped both shots to put Northwestern up 67-66 with just under three seconds to play.
Surprisingly, Penn State got the ball in the hands of Tim Frazier with time enough for a decent look at a 30-footer but the shot fell short.
The win meant a lot for a desperate Northwestern team that is hoping for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Next up for Penn State is a meeting at Purdue University Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions then return to Happy Valley for their final home game against Michigan on Sunday at 1 p.m. That game will be broadcast live on ComRadio from the Bryce Jordan Center.
Artyom Kneuer is a sophomore majoring in Telecommunications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.