NEW YORK — Josh Reaves and Tony Carr hit back-to-back-to-back late three-pointers to finally provide some cushion, and Penn State pulled away to defeat Northwestern 65-57 in a second-round Big Ten tournament game at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Up next: a third date with Ohio State, the No. 2 seed in the tournament and a team the Nittany Lions (20-12) beat twice this season.
“Those games are in the past,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “Ohio State finished the season really strong, so they’re a very confident bunch as well. We’re going to throw the records out and be ready to compete against a very well-coached team.”
Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh hit a contested, fadeaway jumper from the left baseline with 4:33 to play that gave the Wildcats (15-17) a 54-52 lead, but Carr answered with a tough three from the left wing to reclaim the lead for good.
Reaves made a three from the right corner on the next possession, and Carr followed with another three with 2:18 left to make it a 61-54 lead and remove all doubt.
Penn State closed the game on a 13-5 run as Carr finished with 25 points, making 6 of 10 three-point attempts. The Nittany Lions snapped a three-game losing streak to close the regular season.
“It feels great,” Carr said of the chance to play the Buckeyes again. “We just want to have fun with this win. We don’t want to think about Ohio State yet, but it’s definitely great to move to the next round.”
Penn State was again without injured center Mike Watkins, and before the game began the Nittany Lions announced that he would miss the entire tournament because of a knee injury.
He was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman John Harrar, who made his first career start but only played six minutes as Penn State primarily saw success with smaller lineups.