Penn State Hangs On for 81-78 Win over Northwestern
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In a game that saw 18 lead changes, the Nittany Lions came to play when it mattered most to get a close 81-78 win over Miller Kopp and the Northwestern Wildcats.
Penn State held multiple leads throughout the game including a five-point halftime lead and a six-point lead with a minute left, yet the game was close all the way until the final seconds, as the Nittany Lions never led by double digits.
The final minutes were precarious ones for the Nittany Lions, as both Sam Sessoms and Myreon Jones missed free throws in the final minute to keep the door open for a Northwestern comeback. A Pete Nance 3-pointer and Miller Kopp free throws kept hope alive until Izaiah Brockington made both his free throws which ended up being the game’s final points, sealing the victory for Penn State.
Brockington would lead the Nittany Lions with 21 points and made all nine of his free-throw attempts. This was the third time this season Brockington eclipsed the 20-point mark.
Those 21 points were highlighted by a ferocious dunk to finish off a fast break in the second half that, according to Brockington, he didn’t even notice.
“I’m going to be honest, I haven’t seen the dunk so I can’t say where it ranks,” Brockington said. “I heard it being played while I was in the huddle on the big screen but I couldn’t see it.”
The Nittany Lions also received a big boost off the bench from Sam Sessoms, as the Binghamton transfer had 12 points in 18 minutes of game time. Sessoms was the only player to come off the bench that played double-digit minutes for the Nittany Lions, as the team tried to make up for the absence of the injured Myles Dread. No Penn State starter played less than 28 minutes.
The big story during this past week was character, as the Nittany Lions had to play four games in a week to make up for games missed due to COVID-19. Head coach Jim Ferry mentioned it several times during his postgame presser and credits two specific seniors for keeping the team on track.
“I go back to Harrar and Wheeler, the leadership they’ve shown this year and this week has been tremendous,” Ferry said. “We needed games, and we’re starting to see this team come together as a group.”
On the Northwestern side, Kopp led the team with 19 points, and Boo Buie was right behind him with 18. Buie is not only one of the star players on Northwestern but he is also the brother of Penn State assistant coach and all-time leading scorer Talor Battle. Ferry mentioned that Battle was a little shaken up to game plan against his little brother, but he’s just glad it’s over.
“I knew Talor was a little off… he told me in the locker room that he was glad it was over,” Ferry said. “Talor bleeds blue and white, and he was giving us some tricks about his brother."
The Nittany Lions aren’t scheduled to play again until Saturday against Wisconsin, as Wednesday’s game against Michigan will be postponed with the Wolverines’ athletic program temporarily shutting down all sports.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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