Penn State Falls to Purdue in Big Ten Tournament Semifinal
NEW YORK – Penn State saw its strong run in the Big Ten Tournament come to an end after falling to the Purdue Boilermakers, 78-70 in Saturday's semifinal matchup at Madison Square Garden. The Nittany Lions will now await their fate on Selection Sunday.
Purdue (28-5) started the game off hot, but fell cold late in the first half to allow Penn State to take a lead until a team technical foul and Carsen Edwards three put Purdue up 33-31 heading to the locker room.
"I thought the key to the game was the end of the first half and start of the second half," Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the game.
Once the second half started, Purdue could not be stopped. They carried all their momentum into the half, knocking down 7-of-10 three-point opportunities in the second half.
On the other end, Penn State, a team that had relied on the three to this point, shot only 25 percent from three on 2-of-8 shooting.
All game, Penn State did not have an answer for sophomore guard Carsen Edwards, who finished the game with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including knocking down six of his nine three-pointers.
The Nittany Lions also allowed Purdue to shoot 52 percent overall from the field, highlighting the team’s defensive struggles on the night.
Shep Garner, the lone bright spot for Penn State offensively on a night the team shot 33.9 percent from the floor, poured in a Penn State Big Ten Tournament-record 33 points and set the Penn State career Big Ten Tournament record with 135 points. After the game, Chambers was visibly emotional talking about his team.
"I'm really proud of this group for what we've done, what we’ve accomplished. So many positives," Coach Chambers said after the game.
Now the focus for the Nittany Lions shifts to their NCAA Tournament chances. After beating Ohio State last night and for the third time in a season, Penn State had opened the door for a possible tournament berth. It had still felt like the team would need to take down Purdue in order to make the tournament, but Chambers says his team belongs.
"Nobody’s going to want to see us in the NCAA tournament,” Chambers said after the game.
Having played Purdue close twice this season, head coach Matt Painter echoed the sentiment that Penn State does, in fact, belong in the NCAA Tournament.
"From the look test, there's no doubt that they’re an NCAA Tournament team,” Painter said during his postgame press conference.
What is for certain though is the Nittany Lions will have to wait a while to see their fate for the NCAA Tournament. Whether they make the Tournament or not though, the growth from the Nittany Lions is real and is recognized by those that matter.
On his way out of possibly his last press conference of the year, Pat Chambers was embraced by Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, a possible sign of his likely return next year.
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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