WildcatReport - Takeaways: Penn State 74, Northwestern 70
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Takeaways: Penn State 74, Northwestern 70

MORE: Post-game press conference video

Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena followed a familiar script.

Northwestern led for a majority of the night, but the wheels eventually fell off and the Cats were sent home with a 74-70 loss to Penn State.

This was a game that Northwestern head coach Chris Collins called a "must win," but the Cats blew a double-digit second half lead to drop below .500 in Big Ten play.

NU led from the 2:25 mark of the first half until 5:38 remained, but a furious 29-15 rally by the Nittany Lions to close out the game was enough to put them over the top.

Northwestern was led by Boo Buie, who had 22 points and added eight assists. Pete Nance added 15 points and Robbie Beran 11 as the other Cats in double figures.

The Nittany Lions were led by a heroic 23 points from Seth Lundy, while Jalen Pickett added 18.

Here are our takeaways from Northwestern's second consecutive home loss that dropped their record to 8-4 (1-2 Big Ten):

Cats lose another close one: Northwestern dropped to 1-4 this season in games decided by single digits.

This was a particularly frustrating defeat as Northwestern led by less than 10 minutes left but was outscored from that point on by the 6-5 Nittany Lions.

Collins thought that the Cats did what they wanted to down the stretch, the results just weren't there.

"I really didn't think it was bad execution at the end of the game," he said.

Collins talked about making winning plays, something Penn State did but his team did not. He also pointed to the win over Maryland last month as an example of a game when the Cats made winning plays. They just have to find a way to do it consistently.

Beran vowed to use tonight as a turning point for the Wildcats' season.

" If you use tonight as a stepping point, I think it's different from now on," he said.

Buie sparks offense: Buie must like playing Penn State. Two years ago he scored 13 second-half points to lead the Cats to an upset win, and last season he scored 18 in a close loss on the road.

On Wednesday night, he poured in a season-high 22 and added eight helpers. Penn State defenders went under a couple screens early in the game allowing Buie to bury open threes.

As Buie has done in the past, he got scorching hot after seeing a couple go down, and was able to carry the Cats offense for most of the game. It was a strong bounce-back after a disappointing performance in the Cats' loss to Michigan State on Sunday.

Unfortunately, though, 20 of Buie's 22 came in the first 30 minutes of the game. Penn State was able to adjust and slow down Buie in crunch time.

Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said Buie has creative ways of getting open and the Nittany Lions made an effort to stay connected to him and prevent any open looks.

Lundy plays hero: Winning plays might as well be Lundy's middle name.

The junior forward could not miss down the stretch as Penn State came back. He scored 12 points in the final 7:41, including a four-point play and a clutch three over Nance to give Penn State the lead for good with only 36 ticks remaining.

Northwestern just couldn't overcome the heroics from Lundy down the stretch. While Penn State was able to take Buie's scoring out of the game, Lundy seemed to only get stronger as the game went on.

"They hit some incredible shots down the stretch," said Collins. "Lundy’s threes – those were not open shots."

Audige guts it out: Chase Audige's status for the game was uncertain even on Wednesday afternoon. Collins wasn't sure if he was play, but said Audige wants to be out there for his teammates.

The junior had six points and seven rebounds but made just 3 of 9 shots. He also stole Penn State's inbound pass and missed a desperation three-pointer that would have tied the game with one second left.

Every time Audige came out of the game, he was either working with the trainers or putting what looked like a heating pad on his back. Collins described Audige's injury as "day-to-day" and acknowledged that last year's leading scorer was not 100%.

Audige has three days to rest up before the Cats return to the court on Sunday against Ohio State in Columbus.