Ayo Dosunmu Leads Illinois to Road Win over No. 9 Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Illinois halted a four-game losing streak by going on the road and defeating a hot Penn State team, 62-56, in the Bryce Jordan Center Tuesday evening.
Illinois star guard, Ayo Dosunmu, returned after missing the team’s loss at Rutgers and knifed his way into the lane a multitude of times for layups to score 24 points on an efficient 9-of-15 shooting.
Despite failing to score a point, guard Da’Monte Williams did his part by limiting Lamar Stevens to 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting. Stevens had been imposing his will of late, averaging 21.1 points during the Nittany Lions’ eight-game winning streak.
“I was so comfortable with him on the court guarding [Stevens], we put a little package together to try and bother him,” Illini Coach Brad Underwood said.
Penn State has weathered some games this season when Stevens isn’t at his best, in large part because the team’s bevy of players who can score the basketball. Against Illinois, the Nittany Lions’ cast of supporting characters could not make big shots to take the pressure off of their leader.
“People have been doubling Lamar all season, but because we have so many scoring options, because our team is so deep, teams have had to adjust the way they double Lamar, because of the way we can shoot and score the ball,” guard Myles Dread said.
Penn State wasn’t the deadeye team it had been in recent weeks from beyond the arc. The team looked like Myreon Jones was needed on the court to some degree, shooting 21% from 3-point range, and 36% from the field.
Center Kofi Cockburn also did damage in the paint, scoring 14 points to help the Illini outscore Penn State in the paint 32-26.
Penn State pulled to within 58-56 with a minute left in the game, and with Illinois in the bonus, the Nittany Lions elected to settle for jumpers rather than attack the basket and try to draw fouls.
“That’s another thing we have to learn, if the shots aren’t falling, we’re in the bonus, get to the free throw line,” Coach Patrick Chambers said.
“We only ended up with 13 [free throw attempts], I mean you’re at home, you’re in the bonus early enough where you should be playing on two feet and trying to get to the free throw line.”
Though its winning streak is over, Penn State sees losing this game as an opportunity to refocus.
“As good as it feels to win, it feels much worse to lose. Dread said. “We don’t want to feel that feeling again, and if we do lose, we want to know we played our best basketball, and tonight we didn’t play our best.”
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.