Northwestern faltered down the stretch of Sunday’s six-point home loss to No. 10 Michigan State, but the Wildcats realized their struggles weren’t simply limited to crunch time.
“There’s things we can do better throughout the whole second half, not just the tail end, to help us in these situations in upcoming games,” Wildcats’ center Ryan Young said.
Northwestern (8-3, 1-1 Big Ten) will try to harness those lessons Wednesday as the team hosts conference foe Penn State, which edged Indiana on Sunday to earn the first league win for first-year coach Micah Shrewsberry.
“I’m a kid from Indiana, and I grew up idolizing coach (Bob) Knight and his teams,” Shrewsberry said. “The greatest way to honor somebody is the way that you play. We played gritty and our guys knew that’s what it took to win tonight and in the Big Ten.”
Penn State (6-5, 1-2) connected on 11 shots from behind the arc, getting four 3-pointers from Myles Dread and three from Jalen Pickett. The duo combined for 27 points in the 61-58 victory for the Nittany Lions.
Northwestern raced to a 31-18 advantage against Michigan State but was unable to sustain the momentum, falling 73-67.
“That’s been the main thing, just making some crucial mistakes in important times of the game,” said Northwestern’s Pete Nance, who led the team with 13 points. “Whether it’s not being able to stop their runs or trying to stack onto ours. … I think it doesn’t (just) have to do with the execution at the end of the game.”
The Wildats struggled, shooting just 32.3 percent from the floor, including a 5 of 24 effort from 3-point range. Still, Nance and Ty Berry each enter this game shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc this season, leaving Penn State on guard.
“They create challenges,” Shrewsberry said. “Our 3-point defense hasn’t been great. We haven’t been great guarding the 3; we usually lost. They’ve got a bunch of guys that can make 3s.”
Penn State boasts a 34-20 edge against Northwestern all-time. The Nittany Lions have won four of five in the series.
In last season’s meeting at Penn State, the Nittany Lions held on for an 81-78 win as Northwestern finished the game 1 of 7 from the floor following a 14 of 20 start to the second half.
–Field Level Media
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