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Penn State ruins Crawford’s senior moment in Northwestern loss

Penn State center Jordan Dickerscenter battles for loose ball against guard Tim Frazier right Northwestern guard Drew Crawford left

Penn State center Jordan Dickerson, center, battles for a loose ball against guard Tim Frazier, right, and Northwestern guard Drew Crawford, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., on Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: March 6, 2014 11:09PM



Drew Crawford deserved better than this: A 59-32 loss to Penn State on Thursday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena on senior night.

Crawford didn’t need to be a part of this. A graduate student playing this season because of a medical redshirt, he could have transferred anywhere. He could have been part of a tournament-bound team, maybe even a Final Four contender.

Every coach in the country seems to gush over him. It’s a regular event for coaches to throw accolades his way immediately after facing Northwestern.

Penn State coach Pat Chambers said Crawford was one of his favorite players. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Crawford could play for any team in the Big Ten.

But with only one regular-season game remaining in a season marked by mighty struggles on offense, it was Crawford’s comments about his decision to stay that were most telling.

“I don’t second-guess that at all for a second,” Crawford said. “I believe in coach [Chris] Collins. He’s been a great mentor to me. And my teammates, they’ve been awesome. I love those guys. I love our coaching staff. So I don’t question my decision for a second. I’d do it again.”

Against the Nittany Lions, Crawford scored only six points, zero in the second half. Alex Olah paced Northwestern with 14 points.

As Crawford left the game to an ovation, Collins told him that he should reflect on his entire career, one that has been successful, based on the accolades he has received from opposing coaches.

After the game, Collins said he wants Crawford to be remembered as a bridge for a program that has some momentum. Wins at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota were sparks for a program that is looking to ignite.

Collins said Crawford was a huge reason why they were able to win those games.

“Drew’s been great and that’s why I feel so badly because I wanted him so badly to go out playing well in this building and to get a win,” Collins said. “Sometimes that’s where sports can be a little bit brutal because you’ve got to go out there and play and you’ve got to do it.

‘‘I’m sad that I only get a chance to coach him for one year.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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