Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

PSU Basketball

Quick takes: Lions edge NW; Michigan game ppd.

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Izaiah Brockington

Penn State trailed 73-69 with 4:24 to go and was on the verge of suffering a brutal home loss to a Northwestern team that had dropped six in a row.

A loss would have been crushing for PSU, but the Nittany Lions went on a 10-0 run over a 4-minute span to grab a 79-73 lead. This 3-pointer by Jamari Wheeler with 1:10 to go capped that run.

The final minute was crazy, and PSU nearly gave away the lead, missing the front end of a pair of 1-and-1s and playing sloppy basketball.

But Izaiah Brockington hit a pair of free throws with 7.4 seconds to go, and Northwestern missed a 3 at the buzzer as Penn State held on for an 81-78 win.

Penn State improved to 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten. Northwestern dropped to 6-8 overall and 3-7 in the league.

Cory Giger’s quick takes on the game:

**This was a must-win game for Penn State, and the Lions found a way to get the job done late. There’s a lot to be said for that. This Penn State team can give just about anybody in the Big Ten a tough game, but the Lions must prove to themselves and everyone else that they can indeed find a way to pull out a victory when things get tough late.

Penn State was able to hold on late against Rutgers two days ago — after blowing most of a big lead — and this finish against Northwestern was impressive as the Lions used the big 10-0 run at the perfect time.

Now, what happened in the final minute wasn’t a thing of beauty for PSU, but it’s hard to blow a 6-point lead in the final 70 seconds, and the Lions were able to hang on.

**The Lions are 2-5 in the Big Ten, and they have some very tough games coming up. Every game in the Big Ten is tough. But the Lions have to take things one game at a time, and it all started with this homestand.

Penn State has won the first two games and now has one more against Wisconsin next Saturday. If the Lions can win that, they’d be back to 3-5, and anything close to .500 in the Big Ten this year could lead to an NCAA Tournament berth.

**This was supposed to be a four-game homestand, with Michigan visiting the BJC on Wednesday. But that game will be postponed because of this below:

**I am a fan of teams fouling in the closing seconds when up 3 points. Jim Ferry chose not to do that with PSU up 81-78 after Brockington made two free throws with 7.4 seconds to go.

I just don’t understand coaches who choose not to foul in that spot. Foul Northwestern at, say, 3-4 seconds, and the Wildcats would have to purposely miss the second FT, get an offensive rebound and score to tie. The odds of all that happening are minuscule compared to a guy hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Become a Nittany Pride member for an ad-free experience throughout the site and even more exclusive in-depth content. You can sign up for $3.99 per month or get a yearly subscription for only $38.00.

Northwestern had no timeouts, either, so that also worked in PSU’s favor if it had fouled with 3 seconds to go. It didn’t come back to bite PSU this time, but again, I just don’t like that philosophy or the math of letting a guy shoot a 3 with a 30 percent chance or better of tying the game.

“The foul and don’t foul, there’s arguments, people that tell me you’re crazy, you should always foul,” Ferry said.

“I’ve won games by fouling, and I’ve won games by not fouling. I’ve won games by fouling and lost games by not fouling.”

Ferry cited a Harvard study that showed it’s basically a 50-50 deal when it comes to fouling or not.

**Wheeler scored only 8 points, but his 3-pointer for the 79-73 lead was huge. Not only that he made it, but also that he took it. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he is the leader of the team, and you need your leader to make that kind of shot in a clutch situation.

**Brockington, who scored a game-high 21 points, is Penn State’s best player. That becomes more and more clear when you see all of the things he can do. Myreon Jones is a better pure shooter and leads the team in scoring, but Brockington can impact the game in more ways.

Brockington had a phenomenal one-handed jam in traffic on the break that was electrifying, plus he made the two big free throws to push the lead to 3 with 7.4 seconds left.

This is his SICK dunk:

I asked Brockington after the game where that dunk ranks among his all-time best. He said he actually hadn’t see it yet, but he did hear it being replayed on the video board when he was in the huddle. He then gave this terrific candid response.

“I wanted to look up so bad, but I didn’t want to be that guy watching his own highlight while the coach was talking,” Brockington said.

Click for more Nittany Sports Now coverage

Get Nittany Sports Now in your inbox

Sign-up for email updates and get the whole story first from Cory Giger and the Nittany Sports Now team, delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Written By

Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

Click to comment

Sound Off!

Get NSN in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get notifications of new posts by email.

Most Viewed

Former PSU player Carl Nassib becomes first active NFL player to announce he's gay
NFL coming to PSU? Buffalo Bills eye possibility of playing at Beaver Stadium
PSU picks up commitment from 3-star WR Tyler Johnson from Virginia
Recruiting notebook: Top DB target Gould to announce decision Sunday
Podcast: Tyrone relishes first PIAA state baseball championship
PSU QB Veilleux charged with possession of marijuana: report
Eastern League no more: Curve's league gets new name, so what about team's song?
Meet Luke Ruggery, the handsome, shirtless, 6-pack, dancing Saint Francis basketball player with 700k TikTok followers
How much money is Penn State paying Shrewsberry? And why won't the school tell us?
PSU recruiting notebook: Highly rated 2023 prospects expected to visit campus this summer

More from Nittany Sports Now

PSU in the NFL

0 Carl Nassib said he had wanted to make the announcement “for a while now,” but the Penn State great and current Las Vegas...

PSU Football Recruiting

0 Penn State received a commitment today from 3-star wide receiver Tyler Johnson, rated the No. 21 prospect in Virginia for the class of...

Nittany Pride

0 This would certainly be exciting for a lot of folks in central Pennsylvania, even if it is probably still a long shot at...

Local

1 Tyrone captured its first PIAA state baseball championship this past week with a 5-0 win over Oley Valley in the title game at...

Get Nittany Sports Now in your inbox

Sign-up for email updates and get the whole story first from Cory Giger and the Nittany Sports Now team, delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Send this to a friend