Penn State (10-19, 2-15 Big Ten), last in the 12-team conference, scored the game's first 12 points, withstood a Northwestern surge, then pulled away in the second half. The Nittany Lions' only other conference win was at home against No. 7 Michigan on Feb. 27.
Northwestern (13-17, 4-13) has lost seven in a row.
Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio, who scored a career-high 22 points, put the Wildcats ahead 54-53 with a 3-pointer with 6:13 to play. But Penn State scored the next six points, beginning with Sasa Borovnjak's short jumper, and scored 13 of the game's last 18 points. Borovnjak had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Reggie Hearn, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 3:07 to play, was the only other Northwestern player in double figures.
The second annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, eight games between members of the Big East and Big Ten to be played Nov. 14-18, will feature Villanova at Purdue in the opener.
Michael Lewis is leaving his assistant coaching job at Butler to take the same position at Nebraska under Tim Miles.
College basketball fans should be excited about next season's Jimmy V Classic, an event that will feature Duke's heralded freshman class.