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March 7, 2013

Penn State downs NU on Senior Night

EVANSTON, Ill.-Alex Marcotullio posted career bests of six 3-pointers and 22 points, but Northwestern came up short on Senior Night on Thursday as it fell to Penn State 66-59 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Marcotullio was honored along with Reggie Hearn and Jared Swopshire in pregame ceremonies before the start of their final collegiate home game.

Penn State's defensive pressure right out of the gates gave the Wildcats fits as they committed five turnovers in the opening four minutes of play as the Nittany Lions raced out to a 12-0 lead.

NU eventually settled in and got right back into the game. Trailing 15-3, Dave Sobolewski hit three from the free throw line and then scored on a coast-to-coast layup. Mike Turner followed with a three-point play and Marcotullio connected on a triple out of the corner, capping an 11-point run that got Northwestern within 15-14.

PSU pushed its lead back up to seven, 26-19, but a lay-in by Kale Abrahamson off a dish from fellow freshman Alex Olah finished off a 9-0 run for Northwestern that gave the hosts their first lead of the game, 28-26, with 4:47 left in the opening half.

The Nittany Lions would close the stanza by scoring eight of the final 10 points to take a 34-30 advantage at the intermission.

Penn State started the second period similar to how it started the first, rattling off seven straight points as it increased its edge to 41-30. The guests' advantage grew to 12 before Marcotullio helped lead a comeback.

The southpaw drained a trio of 3-pointers as the Wildcats closed to within 47-45. Four straight points by PSU made it a six-point game, but Marcotullio tied his career high by draining his fifth triple and Hearn scored on a three-point play to make it a two-point game again, 53-51 with 7:25 to go.

When Marcotullio got free in the corner once again with 6:15 left, he buried his sixth 3-pointer, giving him his first career 20-point game and NU a 54-53 edge.

Following a Penn State turnover, the Wildcats were unable to finish at the rim and Sasa Borovnjak scored on the other end, giving the Nittany Lions the lead back. Northwestern's offense struggled down the stretch and the visitors were able to take advantage. A basket by D.J. Newbill and a pair of free throws gave PSU a five-point lead with 3:05 left.

Olah made one from the charity stripe to make it a four-point game with 1:52 left, but Newbill hit another jumper to make it 61-55.

Marcotullio hit two from the free throw line to get NU within four with 1:09 remaining, but Penn State was able to hold on down the stretch to pick up the victory.

Newbill and Jermaine Marshall paced the Nittany Lions with 18 points apiece. Hearn joined Marcotullio in double figures with 11 points before fouling out with 3:07 left.

Northwestern closes out its regular season on Sunday as it travels to Michigan State. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. Central time.




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