MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Ryan Evans scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Wisconsin held off Penn State 60-51 Thursday night in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams.
Penn State (8-5) trailed 50-49 with less than 3 minutes left. But the Badgers (10-4) finished the game on an 11-2 run, finally finding their shooting touch from the free-throw line. They hit just 9 of their first 20 from the line but converted 4 of 6 in the final minutes.
Ben Brust and Jared Berggren also scored 13 points apiece for Wisconsin.
Jermaine Marshall scored 19 points for Penn State, while D.J. Newbill added 12.
Wisconsin led 29-18 at the break and was up 40-27 in the second half before Penn State used a pair of runs to get close. The first narrowed a 13-point game to 40-36. The second, after Wisconsin went back up 49-40, pulled Penn State within 50-49.
But the Nittany Lions couldn’t get over the hump. After Berggren dunked and was fouled – missing the free throw – to put Wisconsin up 56-51, Mike Bruesewitz hit four straight free throws sandwiched around an off-balance 3-point attempt by Penn State’s Nick Colella to ice the game.
The Badgers finished 13 of 26 from the line, continuing a problem that has plagued them all season. Normally a strength for a Bo Ryan-coached team, the Badgers came into the game shooting just less than 69 percent from the line.
But Wisconsin made up for that deficiency by turning the ball over just four times, compared to 15 turnovers by the Nittany Lions.