Nittany Lions Couldn’t Weather the Storm; Fall to Hurricanes

Story posted December 2, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

Penn State failed to make a late comeback against the Miami Hurricanes in part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, falling 63-58 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Senior forward John Harrar led the offensive attack with 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the floor and 12 rebounds, continuing his double-double season. Junior forward Seth Lundy followed up with a 14-point performance and grabbed eight boards in the process.

Defensive pressure was a key factor for Miami as Penn State struggled early with turnovers. The Nittany Lions committed 10 turnovers compared to the Hurricanes four, creating four points off those turnovers, but limited themselves to four turnovers in the second half.

“We didn’t prepare the right way on Tuesday,” said coach Micah Shrewsberry. “I tried to warn them that [Miami (FL)] is going to be hungry.”

Harrar wants to improve the finer details to overcome their struggles offensively. “The best basketball teams I’ve been a part of love doing the little things. Our turnovers came from not doing those little things,” Harrar said.

The perimeter shot would not fall for Penn State as the team converted 17% of their three-pointers. Miami, who entered tonight shooting 27.1% on the season from downtown, lit up the Bryce Jordan Center early on with four straight threes to start the game but fell to 36% from the arc.

Shrewsberry wants a faster pace when bringing the ball up the floor and have crisper ball movement on offense to create more open shots. “I want to move the ball side to side. If you want to be a good basketball team, you have got to play with some ball movement,” Shrewsberry said.

Harrar believes in his defense but calls for more offensive production. “We have got to take care of the ball. We are shooting better percentages than teams, but we’re taking fewer shots every game.”

Senior forward Sam Waardenburg led Miami with 14 points, most of them coming from beyond the arc, shooting 4-of-8 from downtown. Along with Waardenburg, three more starters for head coach Jim Larrañaga’s squad managed to score in double-digits, something Penn State has struggled to do.

Senior guard Kameron McGusty fell silent in the first half, not scoring a bucket for the Hurricanes. The second half was a different story considering Miami’s leading scorer, averaging 17.6 points per game entering the night, erupted for 12 points on 50% shooting from the floor and behind the arc.

Shrewsberry continually strives to have opponents score less than 60 points per game. Holding the Hurricanes to 63 points is an exception.

“63 has got to be enough,” Shrewsberry said. “Isaiah Long and McGusty can play. They’re all capable of putting up huge numbers. We just can’t turn the ball over 14 times.”

Both teams entered the night 6-1 in the past seven years for this challenge, being two out of three teams in the two conferences to complete such a feat. Miami entered tonight 0-3 against the Nittany Lions all-time, getting their first win over Penn State in program history.

The Nittany Lions will take the court again on Dec. 5 when former Nittany Lion Jamari Wheeler returns to the Bryce Jordan Center with his new team in the Ohio State Buckeyes. Harrar sets his sights on going against his former teammate.

“I’m just excited to play against Jamari like [with] Trent,” Harrar said. The senior forward recalled a quote from a press conference earlier about his “plans” for Wheeler. “I think I have a quote that I’m body slamming him.”

Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jrd6052@psu.edu.