The Nittany Lions (12-5, 2-2) picked up a much-needed win Friday night, defeating Northwestern (10-7, 1-3) 78-63 in a pivotal Big Ten game. Penn State never trailed on the night, and held the lead for an unreal 38:59 out of 40 minutes.
Lamar Stevens led the Nittany Lions with 30 points and five rebounds, while Mike Watkins added his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Penn State shot 71 percent from the field in the first half, and ended with a 55 percent clip for the night.
How It Happened
Penn State had its hottest shooting performance of the year in the opening half of the game, lighting up the Wildcats’ defense with a 17-for-24 shooting performance. However, 12 turnovers during that first 20-minute period kept the Wildcats around just enough.
A Lamar Stevens three-pointer followed by a dunk by the sophomore forward gave the Nittany Lions a 24-11 lead at the halfway point in the half. The Blue and White continued to look dominant as the half moved along, and a free throw by Julian Moore following an and-one dunk extended the lead to 31-15.
Just when Penn State looked like it was going to run away and bury the Wildcats, Northwestern caught fire. The purple-cladded visitors outscored the Nittany Lions 19-11 for the remainder of the half. A 30-foot prayer at the buzzer by Wildcat star Bryant McIntosh banked in to make the score 41-34 when the teams went to the locker room.
The Nittany Lions started the second half with a statement, as Tony Carr’s alley-oop toss was thrown down by Stevens. However, their hot shooting then came to a screeching halt. Penn State made just one of its next ten shot attempts, and Northwestern’s ensuing 6-0 spurt cut the gap to just 47-44.
Another Stevens slam stopped the bleeding for the Nittany Lions, and a circus and-one from Josh Reaves extended Penn State’s lead back to seven. Stevens added yet another rim-rocking slam with just less than 12 minutes remaining to put the Nittany Lions in front by double-digits, 55-44. Josh Reaves got into the above-the-rim action himself, slamming back a rare Stevens miss with nine minutes left to play.
Back-to-back finishes at the rim by Stevens helped him to 28 points, a new career high for the sophomore. Carr followed with a three-pointer to give Penn State a 69-55 advantage with 4:30 left on the clock. It only took one more minute for Stevens to reach the 30-point mark for the first time in his career.
Player Of The Game
Lamar Stevens | Sophomore | Forward
Roman Catholic graduate Lamar Stevens lit up the Bryce Jordan Center with a career night. He set a new personal best with 30 points on 14-for-19 shooting, and added five rebounds. The forward was able to throw down five dunks for Penn State. Five must be Lamar’s lucky number, as this was also his fifth 20-plus point performance of the season.
Penn State is back in action this Tuesday, as the Nittany Lions travel to Bloomington to face the Indiana Hoosiers (8-7, 1-2) under the lights of the legendary Alumni Hall. The game will tip off at 7 p.m., and you can tune in on BTN.