EVANSTON, ILL. – Northwestern coach Chris Collins became impatient with his zone defense when Penn State nailed several early three-pointers.
The young Wildcats stuck with the defense, however, and the commitment paid off as the Nittany Lions shot a season-low 27 percent. Vic Law scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Tre Demps added 16 points and Northwestern beat Penn State 60-39 on Saturday afternoon.
"It's funny. In our man defense, we didn't force any turnovers," Collins said. "In our zone, we've been more aggressive. Guys have active hands. We're getting deflections."
Alex Olah had 10 points for the Wildcats (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten), who have won three straight after a 10-game losing streak.
Geno Thorpe scored 13 points as the only double-digit scorer for Penn State, which scored a season-low point total. The Nittany Lions have lost four straight.
Penn State's D.J. Newbill, the Big Ten's leading scorer at 21.1 points per game, finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting and nine rebounds. He scored his first points on a three-pointer with 1:25 remaining that cut the Wildcats lead to 56-39.
"They packed it in and shaded D.J. all game," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "They did a really good job on him, probably the best of the year."
The Nittany Lions (15-13, 3-12) also committed 14 turnovers and went 1-for-8 on free throws.
Northwestern allowed its fewest points in a Big Ten game since the Wildcats beat Penn State 54-39 on Feb. 19, 2005.
"That was a big emphasis when our second unit got put in — we knew we had to talk and find the shooters and close out," Northwestern guard Dave Sobolewski said.
The Wildcats shot 46 percent from the field.