STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Tre Demps scored 23 points to lead Northwestern to a 71-61 win over Penn State on Thursday.
Bryant McIntosh added 17 points to help the Wildcats (19-11, 7-10 Big Ten) to their second straight win and third in their last five.
Brandon Taylor scored 17 points for the Nittany Lions, who lost their second straight. Shep Garner added 13 points and Josh Reaves chipped in 11 for Penn State (15-15, 6-11), which is still one win shy of its best conference mark under coach Patrick Chambers.
Northwestern started hot. The Wildcats shot 63 percent from the field, making 17 of 27 shots, with Demps scoring 19 points in the first half. Demps made his second field goal 6:41 into the game to give his team the lead for good.
Penn State went 0 for 5 over the final five minutes and McIntosh hit a jumper at the buzzer to give Northwestern a 42-27 halftime lead.
Both teams struggled through early second-half shooting woes despite finishing with nine 3-pointers apiece. They combined to go 2 of 10 from the field over the first five minutes.
As coach Chris Collins scratched his head along Northwestern's bench, Penn State fans began to howl when Garner air-balled a shot 3:20 into the half. The Nittany Lions still hadn't scored nearly five minutes in, and a handful of open looks for Demps, who was especially cold, came up short.
But as Demps struggled to find the stroke he had in the first half, Penn State began to make shots.
Demps missed his first six shots of the second half as Penn State put together a 21-11 run to pull within five with 8:35 to play. The Nittany Lions did so with five 3-pointers from three different players in a span of 5:38 and eventually cut Northwestern's lead to 55-51 on a pair of Garner free throws with 5:57 left.
But the Nittany Lions wouldn't get any closer and Demps finally broke out of his second-half scoring drought on a drive to the basket that also drew a foul. Demps made his free throw and his 3-point play sparked a 14-10 run the Wildcats used to close out the game.
They made 4 of 6 free throws to cap the scoring.
Penn State won the rebounding battle 31-26.
Northwestern: The Wildcats turned 13 Penn State turnovers in 23 points.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions got 25 points off the bench with Reaves' 11 leading the way. The freshman added five assists.
Northwestern hosts Nebraska on Sunday.
Penn State hosts Illinois on Sunday.
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