MADISON, Wis. — Penn State fought its way back in the game with a late surge, but Wisconsin held on for a 60-51 victory in the Big Ten opener for both squads on Thursday night.
Jermaine Marshall’s game-high 19 points led the Nittany Lions, while D.J. Newbill contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and a pair of ferocious dunks.
However, no other Nittany Lion scored in double figures as the team’s four game streak of scoring 70 or more points — along with its four-game winning streak — was snapped.
In contrast, the Badgers received double-digit points from four different players. Ben Brust, Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren each scored 13 points, while Mike Bruesewitz scored 12.
Berggren also blocked three shots.
Penn State (8-5, 0-1 in Big Ten) was dominant in several categories but fell short in crucial areas that eventually cost it the victory.
The Nittany Lions outshot the Badgers (10-4, 1-0 in Big Ten) from the field, 24-for-52 (46 percent) to 22-for-57 (38.6 percent). They also won the rebounding battle 38-32. But 13 offensive rebounds for Wisconsin and 15 Nittany Lions’ turnovers ensured Penn State team would not earn its first-ever win at the Kohl Center.
Turnovers and an inability to end defensive possessions with a rebound ravaged the Nittany Lions all game.
Wisconsin dealt 10 assists and committed just four turnovers in the game. Penn State ended the night with seven assists and 15 turnovers.
A 9-0 run in the second half got Penn State back in the game, cutting what was once a 40-27 Badgers’ advantage to 40-36 after a Brandon Taylor 3-pointer.
Sasa Borovnjak continued his hot shooting with a 4-for-7 performance from the field but failed to grab a single rebound before fouling out late.
Ross Travis scored two points on a late put back, but nabbed 11 rebounds in the game.
Taylor scored all eight of his points in the second half, as Wisconsin would answer Taylor with a pair of 3-point plays. First, Brust converted after a Borovnjak foul, pushing the lead to 43-36. Then after a Borovnjak basket, Bruesewitz converted to extend the lead to 46-38 with 8:33 remaining.
Penn State made one last charge with an 11-4 run that cut the lead to 50-49 when Marshall hit a jumper with 2:52 remaining. But the Badgers trio of seniors — Evans, Berggren and Bruesewitz — combined to score the team’s final 10 points.
Berggren did so in emphatic fashion. After being posterized by Newbill twice in the game, the senior sought revenge on Borovnjak and converted on two monster dunks late.
Penn State would never recover.
The Nittany Lions showed poise as the game began, answering the Badgers opening 6-0 run with a 6-0 run of their own. Jermaine Marshall made his first four shot attempts on a variety of pull-up jumpers keeping Penn State close.
Penn State led 14-10 after a Sasa Borovnjak lay in from a Newbill assist. However, that would be the last Penn State field goal for a span of six minutes as Wisconsin seized control with a 19-2 run to take a 29-18 lead at intermission.
Earlier in the week, Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers said this would be a “possession game,” describing the Badgers penchant for slowing things down, protecting the ball and making every possession count. The Badgers didn’t disappoint, dishing out seven assists to just one turnover at halftime. In stark contrast, Penn State had just three assists and committed 10 first-half turnovers.
Both teams shot below 40 percent in the first half, but Penn State’s turnovers gave Wisconsin 10 more shot attempts and 13 points off turnovers. Wisconsin also had five blocked shots in the first half.
The Nittany Lions will return to face No. 5 Indiana (13-1, 1-0 in Big Ten) at the Bryce Jordan Center on Jan. 7. at 7 p.m. The Hoosiers beat Iowa in their conference opener 69-65 at Iowa.