Local Sports

Penn State Upsets No. 12 Illinois

Zach Hicks made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer with three seconds left to give Penn State a 90-89 victory over Illinois.


Nick Kern Jr. scored a career-high 22 points, and Hicks and Qudus Wahab added 13 apiece to help Penn State (13-14, 7-9 Big Ten) overcome a 14-point deficit in the second half. The Nittany Lions snapped a three-game losing streak.


Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 19 of his 35 points in the second half for Illinois (19-7, 10-5). Marcus Domask added 15 points.


After struggling to keep up with Penn State’s speedy offense to start, the Illini settled down midway through the first half and controlled play for much of the second, but couldn’t hold on to multiple double-digit leads.


Illinois led 48-41 at halftime and Shannon scored six points in the first 3:59 of the second to give the Illini their biggest lead of the night 61-47.


Boosted by 13 straight points from Kern - and a surging crowd - Penn State cut the deficit to 10 with 12:28 to play. Jameel Brown and Hicks team for five 3-pointers over the final 12:03, with Brown cutting to four with 35 seconds left. Puff Johnson’s jumper made it 87-89.


The Illini made mistake after mistake as the second half wore on. They committed 13 of their 18 turnovers in the second and made just 42.9% of their field goals in that span.


Their defense was leakiest in the final minutes where Penn State finished on an 8-2 run


After losing twice in the regular season and getting bounced from the Big Ten Tournament by the then-Micah Shrewsberry-led Nittany Lions last season, the Illini couldn’t deal with Penn State’s speed and pressure late. They’ll need at least another game for their fifth consecutive 20-win season under coach Brad Underwood.


Illinois hosts Iowa on Saturday.

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