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Penn State Hoops Falls To Northwestern 68-63 To End Winning Streak

Penn State men’s basketball (12-12, 6-7 Big Ten) was defeated by Northwestern (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) 68-63, ending its three-game winning streak. It was a back-and-forth game between the Wildcats and the Nittany Lions as they battled until the final seconds of the game.

Nick Kern Jr. led the team in points with 18 and added seven rebounds and three assists, while Ace Baldwin Jr. totaled 17 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Qudus Wahab finished with only four points but had a season-high five blocks.

How It Happened

Wahab won the opening tip and it didn’t take long for Penn State to score. Zach Hicks drilled a three-pointer for the first basket of the game. Matthew Nicholson got Northwestern on the board with a layup, and Wahab answered him back with a layup of his own.

After missed shots by both teams and steals by Kern and Ryan Landborg, Baldwin found Wahab under the rim for an easy layup to extend the early lead to five for Penn State.

The Wildcats didn’t let that lead last for long as Nick Martinelli got a hook shot to drop. After a bad pass from Baldwin was intercepted by Boo Buie, Buie found Brooks Barnhizer open for three to tie the game at seven.

Leo O’Boyle was fouled shooting a three, but only hit 1-of-3 free throws. Northwestern took their first lead of the game with Luke Hunger hitting a three-pointer to make it 10-8. Baldwin didn’t let that lead last for long as on the other end he got a mid-range jumper to drop in to tie the game.

Jameel Brown checked in for the Nittany Lions, however, Brown missed back-to-back threes, and Langborg drilled a three-pointer for Northwestern to retake the lead. Baldwin was fouled on the other end and hit both free throws and Langborg picked up a foul call on the Wildcat’s next possession, but only made 1-of-2 shots.

Baldwin had another pass picked off by Northwestern and it led to a dunk by Nicholson. Down four points, Kern made it two with a driving layup, and after a miss from Buie, Favour Aire scored a layup to tie things up at 16.

Kern kept the foot on the gas scoring another layup on the following possession to regain the lead for Penn State, although Nicholson was fouled by Hicks and tied things up once again heading into the under-eight media timeout.

Out of the break, Baldwin picked up a foul call and drilled both free throws for the lead. After another miss by Buie, Hicks extended the lead to four with a turnaround jumper. Northwestern tied things quickly with Barnhizer going on a 4-0 run hitting two free throws and drove to the lane for a layup.

With under five to play in the first half, Langborg retook the lead for the Wildcats after nailing two free throws. Once again that lead didn’t last long with Brown drilling a three as the shot clock was winding down.

Barnhizer was fouled once again and hit both free throws for the lead. Both teams then went on a long scoreless streak until Buie scored an and-one layup and free throw for his first points of that game. Down four, Baldwin drove to the lane got a foul call, and hit both free throws to make it a one-possession game.

As the final seconds of the first half ticked down, both Northwestern and Penn State missed their final shots of the half, ending the first 20 minutes of the game with the Wildcats in front 29-27.

At the start of the second half, both teams continued to struggle to score with multiple missed shots. Kern finally got points on the board with a pair of free throws, and Baldwin drilled a jumper for the first made shot of the second half.

Northwestern finally scored when Nicholson scored an and-one layup and free throw. On the other end, Hicks regained the lead for Penn State with a mid-range floater, however, Buie scored another and-one layup and free throw.

Hicks picked up a foul call and hit 1-of-2 free throws, but on the other end, Martinelli made a tough layup to extend the lead for the Wildcats to three. After going scoreless in the first half, D’Marco Dunn drilled a three-pointer for his first bucket of the game, although Buie answered Dunn with a three of his own.

Kern knocked down a fast break layup after a beautiful pass from Baldwin. Barnhizer picked up another foul call and hit both free throws and after a missed shot by Baldwin, Martinelli hit a hook shot to extend the lead to five.

Dunn picked up a foul call but only hit 1-of-2 free throws, while Martinelli hit another shot to make it 46-40 Northwestern. After back-to-back missed threes by Hicks, Buie scored a spinning layup to go up eight points forcing Mike Rhoades to call a timeout.

Out of the timeout, Baldwin picked up a foul call and hit both free throws. Northwestern missed both shots on their possession and Kern hit a layup on the other end to make it a four-point game. Martinelli answered back with a huge slam dunk to go back up six, but on the other end, Kern found Hicks wide-open for a three.

Seconds after the three, Langborg drilled a triple of his own to go back up six. After two minutes of misses from both teams, Baldwin drove to the lane and got a layup to drop. Martinelli missed on the other end and Kern drove down the floor and scored another layup to make it 53-51 Northwestern.

Martinelli was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it a three-point game. With just over four minutes remaining in the game, Baldwin picked up a steal and found Kern on the fast break for a huge layup to make it a one-point game, forcing Northwestern to call a timeout.

Out of the break, Langborg drilled a three-pointer to make it a four-point game. On the other end, Baldwin threw a pass out of bounds, and after not getting a shot to count on a goaltend, Nicholson slammed home a dunk to go up six.

With under two minutes to play, Penn State still couldn’t score, with Kern turning it over and on another possession, Dunn missing a three. Baldwin picked up a foul call but missed the first shot of the 1-and-1 giving the balk back to Northwestern. Both teams traded misses but Kern once again turned the ball over allowing Barnhizer to slam a dunk to go up eight.

With 30 seconds left to play, Baldwin drilled a three to cut the deficit to five. Penn State fouled Buie and he hit both free throws to go back up six. On the Nittany Lion’s possession, Baldwin missed a three, but Kern got the rebound, picked up the foul call, and hit both free throws to make it a five-point game.

After a near turnover by Northwestern, Hicks fouled Barnhhizer before the inbound could be made. Barnhizer hit 1-of-2 free throws and Kern made a dunk with 11 seconds left to play. On the inbound, Kern fouled Langborg and he hit both free throws.

With the final seconds ticking down, Baldwin found Hicks for three to make it a three-point game. Baldwin then fouled Buie and he hit both free throws. The Nittany Lions heave was off and the game ended with Northwestern holding on to win 68-63.


  • After winning three straight games, it just wasn’t Penn State’s day as it wasn’t able to overcome Northwestern’s lead. The Wildcats led for nearly the entire second half and prevented the Nittany Lions from mounting a comeback as the game went on.
  • Kern had an impressive showing in the loss, scoring a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Down the stretch, he scored huge buckets to keep the Nittany Lions in the game but did commit multiple costly turnovers
  • It’s the third consecutive game with double-digit points for Hicks, who finished with 14. While seeing scoring from Hicks is good, shooting 5-for-11 from the field was disappointing to see especially after the impressive past two games for the forward.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will return home for a midweek matchup against Michigan State. The game is set to tip-off at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14, and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him watching reruns of Community or The Office. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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