Johnson, Harrar Have Career Nights and Power Penn State to Win on Senior Night
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Dallion dazzles as Penn State brings out the brooms.
After falling behind late in the first half, Penn State came from behind to top Northwestern on senior night, 67-60.
Dallion Johnson and John Harrar fueled the blue and white with career performances to complete the season sweep of the Wildcats.
“Our guys are just playing hard, they play hard for each other and they play hard for [the fans],” coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “We want to take this homestand and finish it the right way and then really give us some momentum heading into those last two games and then the Big Ten Tournament.”
Both teams got off to a quick start, but it was Northwestern to take the early lead into the first media timeout, 9-7.
Senior guard Sam Sessoms then came off the bench and instantly created a spark, connecting on back-to-back threes and scoring the next eight Penn State points.
The blue and white found some momentum with some excellent ball movement as junior forward Seth Lundy nailed a corner three, electrifying the Happy Valley crowd and giving them the lead, 20-18.
Before the end of the first half, the Nittany Lions entered one of their scoreless stretches, finishing with one basket in the last 7:14. Northwestern took advantage and capped off the first half on a 10-2 run to take the lead heading into halftime, 28-22.
Both sides had a sluggish first half shooting the ball, Northwestern shot 27 percent, while Penn State finished 24 percent from the floor.
After some halftime adjustments, the second half was a different story. Just like in the Minnesota game, senior guard Jalen Pickett began to work in isolation and that opened the offense.
The Siena transfer found some success in the paint and then dished it out to the perimeter which resulted in a barrage of threes to give Penn State the lead, 43-39.
“[Pickett] forces people to come and help and then he scores it, or he dumps it off to John, and then those other guys end up open from three. Shrewsberry said of Pickett’s role in getting the offense going. “He did a great job of really getting us going, getting us kickstarted.”
Northwestern would respond however with a 7-0 run to take a 48-43 lead, but then Johnson came alive.
The Haverhill, Massachusetts native was on fire, burying three triples, then he found Dread open in the corner for another long ball which caused the Bryce Jordan Center to erupt.
Johnson noted the switch to a 3-2 zone by Northwestern as something that got the team open looks.
“It opened up a lot more space,” Johnson said. “I was able to find spots on the court and my teammates were able to find me and give good passes so I can knock down shots.”
A Sessoms three with the shot-clock expiring put the Nittany Lions up by ten, 60-50. Northwestern closed the gap, but some strong free-throw shooting in the waning moments gave Penn State the win.
Johnson finished with a career-high 15 points, shooting 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Harrar notched another double-double, 11 points to along with 20 rebounds, also a career-high.
Northwestern coach Chris Collins had nothing but respect for Harrar in the postgame.
“He knows his value is to get them possessions on the glass,” Collins said. “You almost have to get him with two guys, he's so relentless on the boards. I mean for him 20 rebounds, you know, incredible performance.”
Before the game, the Nittany Lions honored their seven seniors: Harrar, Dread, Sessoms, Pickett, Greg Lee, Jalanni White and Jaheam Cornwall. With Harrar and Dread being the only ones to spend all their time at Penn State.
They all kind of put their blind trust in me like they didn't have to, none of them had to,” Shrewsberry said about what this senior class means to him. “They'll always be remembered. I'll always remember these guys.”
Next up on the docket for Penn State is the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the final home game of the season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Matthew Scalzo is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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