Harrar’s Career High, Jones’ 20 Give Nittany Lions Upset Win Over No. 14 Wisconsin

Story posted January 30, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack McCune

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Stellar defense and efficient shooting got the Nittany Lions (6-7, 3-6) the 81-71 victory Saturday afternoon against No. 14 Wisconsin (13-4, 7-3) in the Bryce Jordan Center for Penn State’s first win in a decade over the Badgers.

“Great team win and a great program win,” said interim head coach Jim Ferry, who grabbed his 215th career victory as a head coach. “I have a lot of respect for Wisconsin… but I thought the resilience of this group keeps showing.”

Minus sophomore Seth Lundy, all the starters put up at least nine points and made a giant impact. Senior forward John Harrar’s scoring numbers keep climbing, as he recorded 17 points and eight rebounds against a team with two players taller than him. 

But the defensive effort made the difference. The Badgers’ two top scorers, D’Mitrik Trice and Micah Potter, were limited to six points apiece on a combined 0-of-8 performance from beyond the arc. Head coach Greg Gard’s squad but up just 37 in the second half to Penn State’s 50.

Izaiah Brockington was one rebound shy of his first career double-double (18 buckets and nine boards). His emphatic left-handed dunk three minutes after halftime gave the Nittany Lions a surge and a three-point advantage that they would never relinquish.

“[It] was really big for our momentum,” Brockington said. “We know we can’t start slow, not in this conference. We were big on being focused and being locked in into the game.”

His squad trailed at the half 34-31 after Wisconsin’s sophomore forward Tyler Wahl put up 13 points and 6 rebounds. It was the seventh conference game the Nittany Lions have played with a single-digit difference at the break but just the second time Penn State has come out on top.

Harrar missed a slam on a fast-break opportunity with 12 1/2 minutes left after he was rejected by the rim while going up with his right hand. But he didn’t let that break him, as he responded with nine points, including a near-impossible make under the left side of the basket that earned a foul call against Wisconsin.

“I’ve got to stop watching Lamar Stevens highlights and just go up with two hands,” Harrar said. “[But] my teammates are there to support me, and it’s all in good fun.”

Harrar and company shot 45% from the floor to Wisconsin’s 44%. It was just the second time this season that Penn State has shot better than a Big Ten opponent.

The Nittany Lions and Badgers will face each other again on Tuesday in Madison for a rare back-to-back meeting. Wisconsin is 7-0 all-time at home against the Blue and White. Ferry is up for the challenge, and he thinks an empty Kohl Center could help his squad.

“We didn’t play a perfect game [tonight], we played a good game,” Ferry said. “It’s going to be a challenging game for us [on Tuesday].”

 

Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jxm1237@psu.edu.