STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said his team hadn’t shot as well as it could in losses to Michigan and Minnesota in its past two games before facing Penn State on Thursday night.
It was a different Wildcats team that took the floor in Happy Valley, as Dave Sobolewski scored 18 points and Jared Swopshire added 17 to pace Northwestern in a 70-54 Big Ten Conference victory against cold-shooting Penn State.
“We’ve been practicing hard the past few days and really tried to stress defense,” Carmody said. “We haven’t really been shooting the ball very well and we kind of just tried to ignore it, not put a lot of heat on these guys.”
The Wildcats (10-6 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) used a 25-4 run over an 11-minute span to lead by 17 points, 33-16, in the first half. Penn State (8-7, 0-3) didn’t score a basket for nearly seven minutes during that stretch.
Northwestern shooters maintained their touch after the break, as the Wildcats made 5 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half. Freshman Kale Abrahamson matched his season-high with three 3s in the game.
“We just tried to again stress the defense, just don’t give them good shots,” Carmody said of his message at halftime. “
No. 22 Michigan St. 62, Iowa 59: At Iowa City, Iowa, Keith Appling’s four crucial free throws Thursday weren’t nearly as exciting as his late basket in Michigan State’s win over Kansas in November.
Still, Appling showed why the little things make all the difference between winning and losing on the road in the Big Ten.
Branden Dawson scored a career-high 17 points, including a late steal and tiebreaking dunk, and Appling went 4 for 4 from the line in the final 20 seconds as the Spartans (13-3, 2-1) sneaked past Iowa (11-5, 0-3).
Gary Harris added 14 points despite hurting his left shoulder in the first half for the Spartans, who hung on for their eighth win in nine games.
Hawkeyes freshman Anthony Clemmons missed a free throw that would have tied it with 12 seconds to go. He also airballed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Iowa lost its third straight.
Tennessee Tech 77, E. Illinois 73: At Charleston, Jud Dillard scored 34 points to help Tennessee Tech (7-9, 1-3 Ohio Valley) slip by Eastern Illinois (3-14, 0-4), snapping a five-game losing streak.
Morris Woods led Eastern with 25 points and seven rebounds.