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Wisconsin escapes with 61-57 win over Penn State

A big game from Brevin Pritzl helps tame the Nittany Lions.

Dan Sanger

MADISON—Once again erasing a first half deficit, the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers came back and eventually tamed the Penn State Nittany Lions in a 61-57 win at the Kohl Center on Saturday afternoon.

A big reason for the win came from redshirt junior guard Brevin Pritzl, who tied a season-high with 17 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting. That included making all four of his three-point attempts, three during a key stretch of the second half.

Redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ scored 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists in the victory for Wisconsin (20-9, 12-6 Big Ten). Redshirt freshman guard Kobe King also contributed nine huge points, seven in the first half in coming off the bench.

Wisconsin shot 40 percent from the field for the game and 38.5 percent from three-point range. UW contained Penn State (12-17, 5-13) to 35.2 percent from the field—including a frigid 24.2 percent (six of 25) in the second half.

Junior forward Lamar Stevens led the Nittany Lions with a game-high 22 points with 10 rebounds in the loss. Wisconsin contained his shooting to making just five of 13 attempts, but he connected on 11 of 13 free throws in the game.

Senior guard Josh Reaves was the only other Penn State players to score in double figures with 14 points and nine rebounds in the loss.

Wisconsin went into halftime needing to push back against a seven-point deficit at 33-26. UW again struggled early on from the field, at one point during the second media timeout, making just three of its 12 attempts. Happ scored six points in the first 20 minutes but also started the game slowly, missing his first six shots. As mentioned earlier, King played a huge first half with those seven points on 3-of-5 shooting.

Penn State shot 44.8 percent in the first half (13-of-29) while making four of its seven three-point attempts. UW rebounded to make 42.9 percent of its field goals in the first half (12 of 28) but made just two of its six three-point attempts.

However, Happ and Wisconsin started to put it together in the second half. The big man scored UW’s first six points, and then an 8-0 run by the Badgers tied the game at 38-38 with 14:43 to play.

With Penn State up three with 13:28 left in regulation, Wisconsin went on a 5-0 run thanks to Pritzl’s second three-pointer of the game, and Kobe King’s layup at the 12:24 mark gave the Badgers its first lead since early in the first half.

Pritzl hit two more threes in the second half within 64 seconds of each other, and the second of those—his fourth of the game—allowed the Badgers to gain a four-point lead at 49-45 with 10:47 left in the contest.

Three Davison free throws gave Wisconsin a five-point advantage, but Penn State clawed back to tie the game with Bolton going on a 5-0 run of his own to lock it up at 52-52.

Pritzl’s layup gave Wisconsin a 55-53 advantage with under four minutes remaining, but the team made just one of its final 12 attempts from the field. However, his free throws at the 2:49 mark pushed the lead to four points.

The Nittany Lions again fought back at the free throw line, but with the opportunity to tie, forward Mike Watkins (three points, three rebounds in 16 minutes) made just one of two with 85 seconds left to close the gap to 57-56.

On UW’s next possession, Trice traveled, but Reaves could not connect on a jumper with about 51 seconds remaining. Watkins fouled Trice, who went on to hit two free throws to make it 59-56 with about 50 seconds to play.

Stevens again attacked and went to the line. A 77.8 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, he made only one of two that gave Wisconsin a two-point edge.

With the shot clock winding down, Trice missed a deep three, and Penn State grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with 14.1 seconds left. On that possession, Iverson came up big defensively as he forced a Penn State turnover. Reuvers, who led the team with nine rebounds on Saturday, was fouled after receiving the inbounds pass and hit one of two free throw to make it 60-57.

After a timeout by Wisconsin, Penn State received one more opportunity to tie the game. In the final seconds, officials ruled a turnover on Patrick Chambers’ squad, credited to Rasir Bolton, after contact by Pritzl that was not declared a foul.

Pritzl hit one of two from the line with 1.5 seconds remaining, and Wisconsin earned its 12th conference win of the season.