Game Grades: Yale
Penn State overcame a 16-point deficit with nine minutes to play in regulation to beat Yale 58-56 Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center. Let’s hand out some grades for the big comeback win.
The grade for offense was looking a lot worse at halftime, as the Nittany Lions were down 31-21. The team looked fatigued and frustrated at that point, and it appeared that this would be its first loss of the season. Penn State shot 27.3% from the field and was successful on just one of 13 3-point attempts.
But the Nittany Lions turned it around completely in the second half, as they began to look like the squad that beat Georgetown earlier this season. Sophomore guard Izaiah Brockington scored 13 of his team-leading 15 points after the half, and guards Curtis Jones Jr. and Myles Dread drained back-to-back 3-pointers with less than two minutes to go to give the Nittany Lions their only lead of the game at 58-56.
One big concern for Penn State was sophomore guard Myreon Jones, who struggled on Saturday after having a career-high 21 points against Georgetown last Thursday. Jones played 36 minutes, but he was 3-for-14 from the field with two turnovers. It appears that the formula is simple: When Jones plays well, Penn State dominates, and when he doesn’t play well, Penn State struggles.
Shooting from behind the arc was also a big concern. Although the Nittany Lions got big shots from Jones Jr. and Dread to seal the deal, they went 5-for-27 as a team on Saturday. Penn State will have to shoot better if it wants to survive a tough Big Ten schedule coming up in December.
The defense had a solid showing to keep the Nittany Lions in the game and lead the offense to the comeback win. Senior center Mike Watkins wasn’t much help on the defensive side as he only played 16 minutes, but senior forward Lamar Stevens filled in for the big man nicely, grabbing 10 defensive boards and blocking three shots. His final block was crucial, as it set up Dread’s 3-pointer to give the Nittany Lions the 58-56 lead.
Although Jones struggled on the offensive side, he helped his team by stealing the ball four times. The team had a total of 12 steals, more than their average per game of a little less than 11. Forcing 16 total turnovers kept the Nittany Lions in the game despite their shooting woes.
Down 10 points at halftime, the Nittany Lions looked checked out. But head coach Pat Chambers knew the talent his squad had, and he must have done something at halftime to turn the game around.
Whether it was an inspiring halftime speech, some play adjustments or a combination of both, Chambers and the entire coaching staff did a great job at getting Penn State back into the game. They’re a big reason this team is starting off the season strong at 5-0.
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.