Wisconsin holds off Penn State for seventh straight win
The Sports Xchange
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Wisconsin’s 3-point shooters led the way Sunday as the No. 14 Badgers held off Penn State 71-66 in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Guard Josh Gasser had 15 points and was 3 of 6 from the 3-point line and guard Ben Brust added 14 and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range for the Badgers, who won their seventh straight game. Guard Traevon Jackson added 13 points and five assists for Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten) and made some clutch free throws in the final minute.
When the Nittany Lions would creep back within a basket, either Gasser or Brust would knock down an open triple. Wisconsin was 8 of 24 from 3-point range.
“We needed to hold them under seven threes,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said, “and I think that’s the difference in the game.”
Guard D.J. Newbill led Penn State (14-15, 5-11) with 23 points and guard Tim Frazier, playing in his final home game, had 10 points but played only 22 minutes due to foul trouble. The Nittany Lions piled up 50 points in the paint but finished 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
“You also have to take what Wisconsin gives you,” Chambers said. “We’re OK with getting 50 points in the paint. We just need a second scorer.”
Forward Ross Travis had 10 points and eight rebounds and forward Brandon Taylor nine points and 10 rebounds for the Nittany Lions. Guard John Johnson scored eight points off the bench.
Newbill, who hoisted 23 of Penn State’s 58 field-goal attempts, did most of the heavy lifting down the stretch, and his back-to-back turnovers in the final three minutes helped the Badgers keep the Nittany Lions at bay.
Penn State, which trailed for the majority of the game, cut Wisconsin’s lead to 66-64 when Frazier scored on a second-chance layup with 18.2 seconds left. Jackson connected on two free throws to make it 68-64 and after Newbill missed a 3-pointer, the ball went out of bounds near Penn State’s basket. Officials initially awarded possession to Wisconsin and, after checking replays, upheld that decision.
Jackson made two more free throws to make it 70-64. The Badgers were 14 of 14 from the free-throw line in the second half until Gasser intentionally missed his second of two to run the final two seconds off the clock.
The Badgers stayed patient against an energetic Penn State press, committing only eight turnovers and taking advantage of the stretched-out Nittany Lion defense by finding Gasser and Brust open on the wings.
“They were doing some things with traps,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “They were trying to get us to cough it up, playing hard and trying to take us out of what we were trying to do.”
Penn State out-shot Wisconsin 48 percent to 44 percent — the Nittany Lions shot 50 percent in the second half — and grabbed 34 rebounds to Wisconsin’s 28.
“They got more off the glass than I wanted them to,” Ryan said.
Wisconsin won the battle at the free-throw line, though, with 19 compared to Penn State’s nine on 11 more attempts.
The Nittany Lions were looking for their second Top 25 upset in four days after beating No. 22 Ohio State 65-63 on Thursday.
“You look at their last five-six games in the Big Ten — we just beat a good team,” Ryan said.
Forward Frank Kaminsky had seven points as the Badgers took a 31-27 halftime lead after a defensive-minded first half by both teams. Newbill had 11 points in the period.
Penn State cut the lead to 33-31 on Newbill’s layup early in the second half before a 10-2 Badger run, which included a 3-pointer from both Brust and Gasser to make it 43-33 at the first media timeout of the half.
BADGER BITS: Wisconsin has clinched a share of fourth place or better in the Big Ten for the 13th time in as many seasons under coach Bo Ryan. ... Penn State G Tim Frazier grabbed three rebounds, becoming just the second player in Big Ten history to record 1,000 points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds. Iowa’s Jeff Horner (2003-06) was the other. ... The Nittany Lions had 50 points in the paint compared to 18 for the Badgers.