Nittany Lions falter late, drop to 0-5 in Big Ten

posted January 18, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Ryan Stevens

With nine seconds remaining and Penn State controlling a three-point lead, Geno Thorpe fouled senior Jon Octeus to send the Purdue guard to the line.

Two missed free throws seemed to end it for the Nittany Lions until junior guard Kendall Stephens grabbed an offensive rebound and dribbled to the corner to launch a three point shot that tied the game up.

“We were hoping he’d (Octeus) make the shot, but then if he misses it we need a quick three to tie it up,” said Stephens. “It was probably the biggest shot of my career.”

After D.J. Newbill lost control of the ball in a last pitch effort, Purdue (11-7, 3-2 B1G) rattled off 17 points in overtime, the most by a team in an OT period since 1983, to finish Penn State off 84-77 in the Bryce Jordan Center, Saturday.

Stephens led the way for the Boilermakers with a team-high 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the outside. Before Saturday’s game, Purdue made only 14 three point shots in Big Ten play, with nine of them coming from Stephens.

Even Penn State (12-6, 0-5 B1G) head coach Pat Chambers admitted his team was deflated going into overtime after seeing their first Big Ten win of the season slip away.

“Give Stephens credit because he got hot,” said head coach Pat Chambers.

The first half was an anomaly for both teams. After halftime adjustments were made on both sides.

Purdue shot 1-10 from the outside and had only seven defensive rebounds in the first half. The low number of rebounds also stemmed from Penn State shooting 60-percent from the field.

The 34-25 Penn State lead at halftime was the largest Penn State had all afternoon, but Purdue came out with an 8-0 run to tighten the game up the rest of the way.

“We needed to step it up and come out in the second half and just play hard,” said Stephens. “We came into the overtime ready to play.”

Part of the Boilermakers’ production came from junior center A.J. Hammons, who didn’t start the last nine games in nod of freshman center Isaac Hass. His presence was felt when Haas picked up two fouls in the first half.

The former staple in the starting lineup finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, an effort that was long awaited.
“Coaches told us the basketball gods were on our side tonight,” said Octeus. “We needed a big road win and we got one.”

Penn State rode D.J. Newbill as long as possible with the senior finishing with a career-high 37 points on 13-of-23 shooting.

“We have to be better at getting other guys involved,” Chambers said. “D.J. had the hot hand tonight though he needs help.”

The next leading scorer for the Nittany Lions was junior forward Brandon Taylor, who didn’t score after the first half.

Senior forward Ross Travis contributed seven points on top of 12 rebounds.

The wait for a second scorer to emerge is still an issue to be resolved. The waiting for a Big Ten win, however, is still the bigger obstacle Penn State is trying to figure out how to overcome in the process.

“We’re going to get over the hump and I know it,” Chambers said. “These kids want to get over it too.”

Ryan Stevens is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email rvs5276@psu.edu.

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Ryan Stevens

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english.  He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.

During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.

Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.

Ryan is also a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. He can be reached via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and following him on twitter @RyanAStevens.