Penn State 74, Northwestern 70: Nittany Lions Overcome Second Half Deficit to Down Wildcats

By Vincent Lungaro on January 6, 2022 at 10:42 am
Jan 5, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Seth Lundy (1) shoots the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing by 10 points with over 10 minutes to go, there was no panic from Micah Shrewsberry or his players as the first-year head coach called timeout to try and halt the Northwestern run. 

And boy, did that halt it. The Nittany Lions (7-5, 2-2 Big Ten) came out of the timeout with renewed energy and outscored the Wildcats (8-4, 1-2 Big Ten) 31-17 the rest of the way to get their second straight Big Ten win in a gutty 74-70 victory. 

Boo Buie -- half-brother of Penn State legend Talor Battle, who is also an assistant for Northwestern -- was a thorn in the Nittany Lions' side all night (22 points, 8 assists) and looked as though he might have nailed an early dagger with 10:08 remaining on a contested triple to put Northwestern on top 53-43. 

Back-to-back triples from Dallion Johnson and Greg Lee, followed by a jumper from Seth Lundy suddenly cut the deficit down to four and it was Chris Collins and the Wildcats' turn to call timeout. 

The momentum shift didn't stop there, though. The two teams traded buckets until Lundy hit a huge 3-pointer and was fouled in the process to give Penn State its first second half lead at 63-61 with 2:25 left. 

A few moments later, Lundy came up big again to break another tie and gave the Nittany Lions the lead for good at 66-63. 

The junior forward led all scorers with 23 points, with 15 of those coming in the second half to help will his team to the comeback win. Lundy was 8-of-13 from the floor, including 5-of-9 from three to pace the Nittany Lions.

Jalen Pickett was also terrific, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Shrewsberry continues to run a lot of the offense through Pickett and its paying off for Penn State. The Siena transfer hit some timely shots, including a few really tough step-back jumpers when his team needed a bucket. 

John Harrar didn't quite reach the double-double average that's almost a given at this point, but still was a big factor with 9 points and 8 rebounds. Lee was held scoreless in the first half, only to come alive in the second frame with 8 points. He also finished with 7 rebounds. Sam Sessoms was quiet scoring wise most of the game, but tied with Pickett with the team-high four assists. 

That's a really big win for the Nittany Lions after the upset over Indiana on Sunday, keeping the momentum rolling after that long COVID-19 layoff for much of December. It's one thing to win at home in the Big Ten and something almost completely different to win on the road. There's a lot to feel good about with where this team his headed under Shrewsberry after an up and down start. 

Not sure if this is a deliberate Bill O'Brien reference from the men's basketball account, but I'm going to choose to believe that it is. 

Penn State returns to action on Saturday when it hosts Shrewsberry's former team Purdue at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions are currently sixth in the Big Ten at 2-2, ahead of the Boilermakers who sit in a tie for seventh at 1-2. That probably won't last, but it's pretty impressive nonetheless, given Purdue was a preseason Big Ten favorite and is still considered a legitimate Final Four contender.