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January 10, 2013

Shooting woes doom Lions vs. Northwestern

Patrick Chambers admittedly hates to lose more than he likes to win.

Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, he suffered through 40 minutes of some of the worst basketball he's seen in his short year-and-a-half tenure at Penn State.

He stated as much following the game, announcing to the assembled media that he wanted to open with a statement rather than take questions as he usually does.

"I thought Northwestern played a great basketball game," he started, visibly perturbed. "I have to do a much better job of preparing my team and getting them ready to play.

"This one's on me. We did not play with any energy of enthusiasm. It's disappointing. I have to look myself in the mirror and ask myself, did I do everything in my power to prepare this team for this game, and obviously I didn't.

"That was embarrassing. I did not like the way we played, I did not like the way we competed."

Falling behind visiting Northwestern, 33-18, at the half, then getting doubled up, 36-18, early in the second half, before dropping behind by as many as 23 points at the 7:47 mark in the second half, the Nittany Lions simply couldn't do much of anything well.

After jumping out to a four point lead early in the first half, they shot a miserable 31.6 percent from the floor for the game, went just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc, and coughed up 11 turnovers to a Wildcat team that had won just three of its last nine games, including an embarrassing 63-42 loss to Brown three weeks ago in Evanston.

That all changed for the Wildcats (10-6 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) against Penn State, earning them a first win in the Big Ten schedule with guard Dave Sobolewski leading the way, hitting 3 of 6 from beyond the arc for a team-high 18 points, and double-digit efforts from Jared Swopshire (17), Reggie Hearn (14) and Kale Abrahamson (10).

"It's good to get your first win in conference and on the road, that makes it extra nice," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "I thought it was just pretty good all around for our guys. I thought we defended pretty well. They had some shots that they can make in the first half in the last ten minutes. We hit some shots and they missed, and we kept that lead in the second half."

The Nittany Lions (8-7, 0-3) meanwhile, had no answers.

Shooting just 30.8 percent from the floor in the first half, including an 0 for 7 clip from beyond the arc and a drought that lasted from the 12:04 mark all the way down to the 5:45 mark on a Ross Travis made shot. In all, the Lions scored just 6 points in the final 12:04 of the first half and never recovered.

"We're missing point blank layups," Chambers said. "But where does that start? Whatever I gotta do, I gotta figure it out fast. That's my job."

Though sophomore guard D.J. Newbill led the way for Penn State, 16 of his game-high 20 points were scored in the second half as the Nittany Lions fought to get back into the contest. Even after a spurt that saw Penn State cut the lead to its lowest mark in the second half, 46-33, with 11 minutes, 39 seconds left, Northwestern's Tre Demps responded with a 3-pointer of his own to kill any potential comeback.


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