Jones’ 23 Points, Harrar’s Double-Double Not Enough in Loss to Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After a break of nearly three weeks due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program, Penn State (3-5, 0-4) fell to Purdue (10-5, 5-3) 80-72 in the Nittany Lions’ return to the hardwood Sunday afternoon.
Junior guard Myreon Jones led the way in scoring for the third-straight game with 23 points and five jumpers from beyond the arc. Senior big John Harrar had the game of his life with a career-high 14 points and 14 rebounds to match, including 10 offensive boards. But the blue and white couldn’t take advantage of the Boilermakers’ miscues.
Season-leading scorer Trevion Williams committed two fouls early in the contest, which forced head coach Matt Painter to play the junior big just six minutes in the opening period.
Both squads struggled to finish in the first half to keep the game close at a low score. Neither team made a 3-pointer until 14 minutes in, and Penn State led in shooting percentage at just 40%.
But a buzzer-beating triple by Purdue freshman forward Mason Gillis gave his team a 33-32 advantage and a momentum shift in the Boilermakers’ favor heading into the break.
The second half told a much different tale, as both offenses began to ignite. But Purdue’s attack was more efficient, outscoring the Nittany Lions 47-40.
The Boilermakers shot 54% and were led by junior guard Eric Hunter Jr., who scored 12 and was perfect from both the floor and the stripe. His squad never looked back, as Penn State’s closest deficit was four in the closing period.
Jones did his best to keep his team in the game with 14 points, but his 5-for-15 clip on field goals on top of Penn State’s 27.7% shooting wasn’t enough.
Interim head coach Jim Ferry said he isn’t too worried about the shooting woes, especially after the long break.
“It’s hard,” Ferry said. “We can’t control the ball going in. [But] we can control taking good shots. We’ve got to control the things that we can control. Shot-making is going to come.”
Sophomore forward Seth Lundy continued to struggle, as he shot 2 of 11 for seven points. Since the team’s last victory against Virginia Tech on Dec. 8, he’s scored 28 total points in four games—that’s four points fewer than his single-game career high.
For the second-straight contest, Ferry was assessed a technical foul after losing his temper, this time early in the second half. He mentioned he was just trying to back his guys after losing debatable calls.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time,” Ferry said. “I wasn’t ranting. I wasn’t cursing. [But] I don’t want to use it as an excuse. We’ve got to fight through [questionable calls].”
Ferry and company will head to Champaign to rematch No. 14 Illinois on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. before taking on Rutgers and Northwestern at home on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
The loss to Purdue starts the first four-game week of the season, as the Nittany Lions look to get back into the swing of things.
Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.