MBB: Rebounding and Second Chance Points Doom Penn State in Close Loss to Rutgers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – Penn State’s rebounding woes continued as Rutgers secured its first Big Ten road win, 70-68.
“We definitely didn’t have the juice. We definitely didn’t have the energy that we need to compete for 40 minutes in the Big Ten,” Penn State Head Coach Patrick Chambers said following the game. “You can’t show up in the last three minutes and finally play with some energy and juice.”
Penn State (12-12, 4-7 Big Ten), coming off of a 3OT loss at Indiana Wednesday was dominated on the glass by Rutgers (13-11, 2-9 Big Ten), who collected 39 rebounds to Penn State’s 27.
Chambers’ team is now minus-60 in the rebounding battle over the last four games.
Penn State almost overcame a 13-point second half deficit, by the way of a 24-point outing from Shep Garner, who shot 9-13 from the floor and 6-9 from 3-point range.
The Nittany Lions cut the Rutgers lead down to one in the last minute, but ultimately the Scarlet Knights prevailed. Rutgers led the game from the 17:13 mark in the first half until the final whistle.
“I found out we’re young and we need better leadership right now,” Chambers said.
Rutgers outscored Penn State 30-18 in the paint. The Scarlet Knights’ 15-8 edge on the offensive glass provoked 17 second chance points.
Julian Moore started at center for Penn State, failing to record a single point or rebound in 17 minutes.
Penn State’s troubles in the frontcourt were amplified when Lamar Stevens fouled out with 7:35 remaining in the second half.
“It’s just big to leave a key guy on the team with so much time left in the game,” Tony Carr said. “Losing (Stevens) was big and it definitely took a toll.”
Garner had 17 of his team’s 29 first-half points. It took Penn State until 3:09 left in the first half for a player other than Garner to connect on a field goal, when Lamar Stevens hit Penn State’s first two-point basket of the game.
Payton Banks failed to follow up on his 20-point outing from January’s meeting against Rutgers, scoring just three points on 1-5 shooting.
“(Banks) is always a problem. He hurt us the first game,” Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell said. “I felt we were kind of locked into him today and didn’t give him many open looks.”
Rutgers came into the game last in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting (28.7 percent), but shot 7-16 from behind the arc Saturday afternoon.
Corey Sanders shot 4-5 from 3-point range, adding 25 points and six rebounds.
Chambers said that was the best he’s seen Sanders play this season. “We tried to trap (Sanders). We tried to blitz him. We tried to throw everything and the kitchen sink at him.”
With 2:35 remaining, Payton Banks nailed a crucial 3-pointer followed up by an alley-oop to Mike Watkins that cut the deficit to just four points, which brought the crowd of 9,529 people at the Bryce Jordan Center to its feet.
In the final minute, Watkins converted an and-one with 24.1 seconds left and Josh Reaves hit a timely 3 with 9.9 seconds remaining to cut the Rutgers lead to just one.
Rutgers would earn its first Big Ten road win since joining the conference in 2014 after Tony Carr missed an open look at the rim as time expired.
Chambers called for the upperclassmen and leaders of the team to step up. “This is going to be a rock fight. This is going to be brutal.”
The Nittany Lions will look to stop their two-game losing skid against No. 17 Maryland (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten) at the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Patrick Burns is a sophomore broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.