Game Grades: Penn State vs. Northwestern

Story posted January 17, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Mandy Bell

The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Northwestern Wildcats Saturday night 71-62.  The Nittany Lions picked up their 11th win of the season and second conference win.  Penn State took the lead with just under 14 minutes remaining in the first half and never looked back as they maintained the lead for the remainder of the game.  Here are the game grades for the Nittany Lions against the Wildcats.

Backcourt: C+

Shep Garner had a quiet night for the Nittany Lions. Although he had nine points and six rebounds on the night, he did not bring much else to the table for Penn State.  Payton Banks provided ten points in his 17 minutes on the court, but also added four turnovers. Devin Foster was the highlight of Penn State’s backcourt. He tacked on nine points and led the team in assists.  Defensively, the guards played decently as they only allowed three successful shots beyond the arc. Despite their defensive efforts, the group grade remains average due to the fact that Northwestern could not get some open looks to shoot and offensively, the guards were hardly present. 

Frontcourt: B+

Without Brandon Taylor and Donovan Jack, the Nittany Lions would not have stood a chance against the Wildcats. Taylor and Jack provided a spark both offensively and defensively to get the much needed win Saturday evening. Taylor led the team with 19 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. At the beginning of the second half, Taylor took control of his offense as he called out plays, saw the court extremely well, always finding the open man, and hit a couple of timely threes.  Jack added 14 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double. He was a strong presence under the basket and played an extremely aggressive game. Although Julian Moore and Jordan Dickerson hardly provided anything to the Nittany Lions, Taylor and Jack’s play gets the group a good grade.

Bench: A-

Due to the lack of depth of this Penn State team, the fact that the Nittany Lions depended on the efforts from both Foster and Jack gets the bench a good grade for the game. These two seniors brought a level of enthusiasm that the entire team fed off of throughout the game to keep the lead for over 33 minutes of the game. The bench totaled 26 points and 15 rebounds. Although Deividas Zemgulis and Isaiah Washington did not provide much from the bench, the efforts of Foster and Jack earned a good grade.  Keeping in mind the lack of depth of Penn State’s roster, it was an impressive outing for the Nittany Lion bench.

Coaching: B+

It was a rare easy night on the coaching staff for Penn State. When your team takes the lead early in the first half and keeps a half decent lead throughout the rest of the game, the coaching staff does not have a lot of opportunities to make many mistakes.  Pat Chambers definitely ran his defense well, keeping a tightly packed zone forcing a struggling three-point shooting Northwestern offense to shoot beyond the arc. That strategy obviously worked, as the Wildcats were only able to hit three three’s out of 14 attempts.  The final two minutes of the game seemed endless as Northwestern began fouling and slowly started to close the gap between them and the Nittany Lions. However, Chambers called a few timely time outs and kept his team on the right track to a comfortable 71-62 win. 

Mandy Bell is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact her email