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Penn State Basketball

‘Return to Rec’ Ends With Wild Penn State Comeback

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Zach Hicks

Penn State came back from a 14-point deficit to beat Illinois.

Zach Hicks nailed three free throws with four seconds left to put Penn State ahead, 90-89, and those proved to be the winning points.

Illinois scored the first basket of the game but PSU (13-14, 7-10 Big Ten) went on a 14-3 run from there.

Threes by D’Marco Dunn and Ace Baldwin, a Nick Kern dunk and six early points by big man Qudus Wahab had Penn State cooking early. Penn State made six of its first seven shots.

Illinois went on a 7-0 run, but PSU responded with buckets by Dunn and Zach Hicks to make it 20-14 by the second media timeout. At this point, Penn State had made nine of its 13 shots. At this point, PSU had come up with five turnovers and turned it over just once. Johnson went onto complete the 3-point play.

Wahab had 10 points to lead PSU in the first half. A steal, basket and drawn foul by Puff Johnson made it 29-24 PSU at the under-8 timeout.

But Illinois got hot and ended up taking a 35-34 lead with just over four minutes left.

PSU trailed 48-41 at the half. For Illinois, Terrance Shannon Jr. led the way with 16 points. He ended with a game-high 35. Marcus Domask added 15 with six assists. Ace Baldwin had 10 points and seven assists for Penn State. Baldwin ended with nine assists, and Wahab 13 points. Kern ended up leading PSU with 24 points. At one point, Kern scored 13 straight points for Penn State.

Illinois continued to control the game in the second half, leading by 11 at the first media timeout. But PSU kept fighting and trailed just 70-63 at the next media timeout. PSU also trailed by seven at the next media timeout. By the five and a half minute mark, Illinois was back up by double digits.

Penn State cut it to two with 29 seconds left, and Illinois wouldn’t score the rest of the game.

Penn State looks to keep it going. Saturday against Indiana at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.

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