Penn State Defeats Indiana and Advances to the Big Ten Tournament Championship
CHICAGO, Ill. –– Penn State men’s basketball knocked off the Indiana Hoosiers in thrilling fashion on Saturday afternoon, and marches on to the championship game with a 77-73 win.
Penn State advances to its second Big Ten title game and their first since the 2010-11 season.
“I’m just happy for these guys and proud of these guys,” head coach Micah Shrewsberry said.
The Nittany Lions took down the state of Illinois in their first two matchups of the Big Ten Tournament, first beating the Fighting Illini and then polishing off Northwestern in overtime.
They entered the semifinal game against Indiana on a four-game winning streak and winners of seven of their last eight.
Penn State and Indiana had clashed just once this season inside the Bryce Jordan Center which resulted in a 19-point win for the Nittany Lions.
The first half was owned by Penn State who took control after a quick start from the Hoosiers. Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett quickly established themselves and both scored double-digits in the first half alone.
“I think our team is believing in us,” Pickett said. “I feel like we’re playing our best basketball right around now.”
Pickett dazzled the crowd and dropped 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists while shooting 9-for-10 from the charity stripe.
The team carries a poster reading “Believe” that they put in their locker room before each game and this word has carried them through an incredible run.
The Nittany Lions came out blazing again in the second half and quickly built up a lead over the Hoosiers.
Their suffocating defense and physicality with All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis built their lead all the way up to 15 with just 2:05 remaining in the game.
Freshman Kebba Njie was crucial in this aspect of the game and he finished with six points and nine rebounds, including four offensive boards.
“Offensive rebounds in general are not easy at all,” Njie said. “I just wanted to have a winning mentality.”
Indiana did not give in and turned up the heat forcing a couple turnovers from the Nittany Lions that they turned into buckets on the offensive end.
“Every single time we just huddle up and talk to each other,” Lundy said. “We just stick together and keep fighting.”
Penn State began to crumble with under a minute remaining in the game and Indiana found itself down just one with 33 seconds remaining.
The Hoosiers luck was not enough as a pair of free throws from Lundy and a free throw from Cam Wynter put the game away for the blue and white.
“We feel like we played three road games here,” Lundy said. “There’s a road mentality and we won’t let the crowd rattle us.”
Lundy finished with 16 points and six rebounds while going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Penn State has dealt with multiple difficult crowds throughout the Big Ten gauntlet, but none have been quite as tough as the Big Ten Tournament.
Adversity has been something that the Nittany Lions have battled and handled well all season and they prevailed once more against Indiana.
Coach Shrewsberry and his squad get a third shot at Matt Painter and Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Painter and Shrewsberry will have to put their friendship in the background once more and decide which team will come out on top.
“We’re going to fight each other. We both love to win and hate to lose,” Shrewsberry said. “I’m happy to be here. I love our guys.”
Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
Thomas is a broadcast journalist from Shorewood, Illinois which is an hour South of Chicago. He is a second-year student at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. His goal is to be an ESPN broadcaster who covers a variety of sports including professional and college level football and basketball and bring entertainment to people all over the world. His other goal is to spread his love of sports to all cultures through projects that allow children of all ethnicities to learn and play all kinds of sports. He is currently an active member of CommRadio, a student run radio station at Penn State. He plans to create his own sports podcast as well as doing play by play and analysis for Penn State sporting events in the future. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to entertain people all over the world!