By Jack Molino
“Although I'm disappointed to lose the game, I'm more disappointed I won't get a chance to coach these guys anymore,” Coach Collins said after the game.
This was likely the end of the road for Northwestern’s season and the end of some remarkable college careers for players like Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey. The Wildcats ended the year with seven consecutive losses to finish with a 15-17 record. This loss to Penn State, in my opinion, looked very similar to many of Northwestern’s losses this season: they played a good team extremely close, but were unable to finish the job in the end. In fact, 12 out of Northwestern’s 17 losses were single digit losses, just like tonight’s against Penn State. The Wildcats looked extremely good at some points in the game, and at one point went on a 16-3 run during the first half and was able to snag a 7 point lead. However, as they seemed to do so many times during the season, Northwestern never could find that knockout punch. In terms of percentages, Northwestern didn’t shoot horrendous from the field tonight, just over 40% (which is right around their season average). Interestingly, they shot better from the field than Penn State who shot 36%. However, next column over on the box score, one would see that the Wildcats shot 5-19 from three, which is usually not good enough to win games in this conference unless your defense is superb. Northwestern basketball fans are likely scratching their heads after a season like this where they returned almost the entire core from a team who made March Madness last year. Despite their poor finish this season, seniors Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey will be remembered by many Northwestern fans. Coach Collins said it best, saying, “ There's so many things that these guys, the notches on their belts, that they need to be proud of. And it stings right now because you always remember the moment you're in, but I'm confident, in time, that these guys will be extremely proud of what they accomplished.”
Penn State is playing for a legitimate chance to make the dance in two weeks. After a pivotal loss to Nebraska on the road to close the regular season, Penn State now needs to survive and advance to the weekend in this Big Ten Tournament to have a chance to dance in March. Tonight, they showed the Garden that they not only have the talent but the fight and intensity of a March Madness team. The Nittany Lions were led by sophomore sensation Tony Carr. He was arguably one of the best guards in the Big Ten Conference this year, and he showed why tonight. The Big Ten’s scoring leader notched a tournament career-high 25 points on 6-10 shooting from downtown. Two of those threes came in the last 5 minutes to help seal the deal for Penn State. As a team, three point shooting has been a huge part of Penn State’s success this season. This is the 12th game this season that Penn State has made 9 or more three point field goals. More specifically, when playing against the Northwestern zone defense, three point shooting will always be an integral to the outcome of the game. “It's definitely tough to play against the
zone for 40 minutes,” Card said. “But we have great shooters like Shep, Josh and myself. And that kind of loosened the zone up for us, and in the second half for us to get down hill and penetrate and find some easy shots.”
Penn State are matched up against the Ohio State Buckeyes tomorrow (Friday) for the third time this season. The Nittany Lions undoubtedly have got the Buckeyes number this year, upsetting them twice already this season. Look for a close game against these two teams, as some of the conference’s best players in Tony Carr and Keita Bates-Diop look to lead their team to the semifinals here at MSG.
Tony Carr, G, Sophomore (25 points, 39 minutes, 6-10 3FG)
Dererk Pardon, F, Junior (14 points, 8 rebounds)