STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Northwestern jumped out to a big early lead and kept Penn State at a comfortable distance in a 70-54 victory Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Wildcats (10-6, 1-2 Big Ten) enjoyed a 20-point lead for much of the second half and were in control for the final 32 minutes against a struggling Penn State team.
Dave Sobolewski led Northwestern with 18 points and added five assists. Jared Swopshire had 17 points and seven rebounds, Reggie Hearn contributed 14 points and Kale Abrahamson had 10 points.
Penn State (8-7, 0-3) got 20 points from guard D.J. Newbill and 13 from backcourt mate Jermaine Marshall. The Nittany Lions shot 32 percent from the field, missing a number of shots from point-blank range, and made only 3 of 15 3-point shots.
Penn State cut the deficit to 13 points at 46-33 on two free throws by Marshall with 11:39 remaining, but the Wildcats answered with a 10-2 run in the next four minutes to go up 56-35. A sparse crowd announced at 6,479 headed for the exits early.
Northwestern, looking for its first conference win of 2013, pulled away from a cold-shooting Penn State team to take a 33-18 lead at halftime.
Hearn and Swopshire had nine points each and Sobolewski added eight for the Wildcats, who shot 48 percent from the field and committed just three turnovers in the first half.
Northwestern, which generated open shots against Penn State's zone defense and frustrated the Nittany Lions with its own zone, took control with a 25-4 run that spanned most of the half.
Penn State scored only six points in the final 12 minutes of the first half and shot 31 percent from the field for the half.
Newbill and Marshall, the team's two leading scorers, combined to go 2 of 10 from the field and finished the half with a combined four points. Four Nittany Lions starters had at least two personal fouls in the opening half.
NOTES: Penn State has won 10 of its last 13 games against Northwestern. ... The Wildcats are averaging 8.3 3-pointers per game, the nation's 27th-best total. ... The Nittany Lions have won just four of their first 20 Big Ten games under coach Patrick Chambers.