Penn State Falls Flat in Blowout Loss to Rutgers
In pursuit of consecutive wins for the first time in 2023, Penn State was unable to build momentum in the Jersey Mike’s Arena on Tuesday night, falling to Rutgers 65-45.
The Nittany Lions entered the matchup coming off of an impressive all-around performance at home in a 76-66 win over Nebraska, but on an ice-cold shooting night in Piscataway, they were unable to kickstart their first winning streak of the calendar year yet again.
“You can’t play soft in this league if you want to win,” Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “We played soft and we lost by 20.”
The blowout defeat knocked Penn State’s conference record down below .500 at 4-5, slowly drifting back into the middle of the pack of the Big Ten standings.
Meanwhile, Rutgers bounced back from a road loss to the hand of Michigan State in a huge way, with Tuesday’s 20-point win marking their largest margin of victory against a conference opponent this season. The Scarlet Knights are now 6-3 in the Big Ten, only trailing the 8-1 Purdue Boilermakers.
The blue and white dug themselves into an unfavorable hole right off the tip, coming out of the gates slow offensively to the tune of just 6 points in the initial eight minutes. Senior guard Seth Lundy provided the only true shooting for Penn State early on, scoring 10 of the team’s first 16 points.
“You’ve got to hit open shots,” Shrewsberry said. “Especially on the road, you need to make shots.”
On the flip side, the Scarlet Knights simply outmuscled the Nittany Lions up until the final buzzer, establishing themselves physically on both ends from start to finish. In particular, junior center Clifford Omoruyi proved to be a handful for Penn State.
Omoruyi’s name was called on a handful of occasions throughout the first half, including a pair of two loud blocks that sent the red sea of Rutgers’ fans in the Jersey Mike’s Center into eruptions. The 6-foot-11 rim protector also did a job well done on the offensive end, pacing the Scarlet Knights with 12 first-half points.
“We did a great job getting Clifford involved,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said. “You saw his athleticism. He’s a good player.”
Penn State entered the half trailing by just eight points despite an abysmal 32% shooting mark from the floor. Coming out of the locker room, it appeared that Rutgers had left the door wide open after the blue and white cut the deficit to just three.
Any hopes for a comeback were short lived, after a 16-4 Rutgers’ run swept the rug right out from under the paws of the Nittany Lions.
Junior forward Aundre Hyatt was the lead catalyst during the Scarlet Knights’ momentum swing, scoring all 14 of his total points off the bench in the second half.
“Just a good team win and a well-earned day off for these guys tomorrow,” Pikiell said.
Senior guard Jalen Pickett led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 15 points, scoring 10 of those in the second half. Meanwhile, Lundy cooled down after a flaming-hot first half, knocking down just one basket in the final 20 minutes of play.
Penn State will head back to the court on Sunday against Michigan, looking for a much-needed win to climb back into the mix in the Big Ten standings.
Grant Sheets is a sophomore majoring in public relations. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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