Good Shooting Night Not Enough, Wheeler Shaken Up, as Nittany Lions Lose to Buckeyes
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On the eve of the first virtual THON, Penn State’s 45% shooting from the floor was all for naught as No. 4 Ohio State (18-4, 12-4) defeated the Nittany Lions (7-11, 4-10) 92-82 Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
“If we got a bounce here or there, we could’ve beaten that team,” said interim head coach Jim Ferry, whose team held an eight-point lead halfway through the second half. “But we’re going to keep plugging away.”
Head coach Chris Holtmann’s Buckeyes shot even better at 57% for their best percentage of the season and their seventh-straight victory. Junior Duane Washington Jr. and sophomore E.J. Liddell combined for 44 points and nearly half of their team’s buckets.
Ohio State also won the board battle 32-29. Despite being the tallest player on the court, Penn State senior John Harrar recorded just five rebounds—his lowest total since December.
And 81 points was the most the Nittany Lions have scored since the Jan. 23 win against Northwestern, but 91 is the most they’ve given up since the Illinois loss before Christmas. Penn State attempted eight more shots from beyond the arc than Ohio State but made just one more than the Buckeyes.
“We were making our 3’s,” Harrar said postgame, “[But] we’ve been preaching getting to the rim… The best Big Ten teams get to the cup.”
With just 40 seconds remaining before halftime, senior guard Jamari Wheeler went down hard after drawing a foul while guarding Ohio State’s CJ Walker and bumping him. He grabbed his right knee while lying on the floor as Ferry and the head athletic trainer came to help him off the court.
After heading into the locker room with wrap around his knee, Wheeler would later return to the court for the second half. But the numbers show he wasn’t 100%; after leading his team in scoring in the first with 11 and three 3’s, Wheeler was unable to put the ball in the hoop after the break.
After a lengthy scoring slump, sophomore forward Seth Lundy was able to score double figures coming off the bench. After putting up just 18 points total in the previous five games, he recorded 12 on Thursday on four 3-pointers. He, Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones put up double digits alongside Wheeler.
Just four games remain on the regular season schedule before the Big Ten Tournament, and No. 11 Iowa comes up next on Sunday at 5 p.m. Tournament hopes are nearly nonexistent for the Nittany Lions, but Harrar is holding on to their chances and always wants to play for pride.
“I love this place,” Harrar said. “I love the Bryce Jordan Center, I love this university, … I’ve loved my four years here. That’s what I play for. … I want to make Penn State go as far as they can, and if I can do that with all the love I give them, then that’s a plus.”
Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.