Nittany Lions Claw Back, but Fall to Badgers 66-60
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions dropped a home game to the Wisconsin Badgers in a conference showdown Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center. Behind the hot hand of Ethan Happ, who scored 20 points, Wisconsin (11-9, 3-4) was able to edge Penn State (11-9, 2-5) 66-60 in a game that saw a Nittany Lion team play for only eight minutes according to Chambers.
“You gotta buckle down, hang in there and just trust this process of getting these kids better. A lot of games left, a lot of basketball to be played,” Said Coach Chambers.
The game was chockfull of fouling from both teams, totaling 48 personal fouls which led to 62 free throw opportunities. Even though both teams did go into the bonus early, play was sloppy and points stayed at a premium with the score just 27-18 with the Badgers ahead going into the half.
Leading scorer for Penn State all season, Brandon Taylor, was held to zero points in the first half but finished with 13 points after heating up in the late minutes of the second half.
“The shots weren’t falling. Wisconsin plays great defense and that’s a credit to them,” said Taylor about the slow start.
Wisconsin was able to jump on Penn State and gain a big lead, going up by 17 early in the second half.
With seven quick fouls, the Badgers were in the bonus just halfway through the half. Penn State was in a big hole with their big seven foot center Jordan Dickerson only playing nine minutes due to early fouls. That hole increased when they lost point guard and main component Shep Garner, who fouled out with two minutes left to play.
Garner was a key to the beginning of the Lions comeback, but on the shoulders of Taylor and a few key shots from Peyton Banks and Devin Foster, Penn State would continue their massive comeback, going on a 15-1 run and pulling the game within five points with just under five minutes to play.
It was then when Nigel Hayes drilled a big momentum changing three pointer and Chambers would refer to it as the dagger toward the end of the game.
The game would become a back and forth chess match where the winner was the team that could hit their free throws. Wisconsin wouldn’t let Penn State back in the game, even after a big three by Foster that brought the Lions to within three.
“If you told me I was going to make 20 free throws and six threes against Wisconsin who doesn’t foul, I would be very pleased and I would think the outcome would go our way. But the offensive rebounding and us turning it over 13 times, I think that’s the difference,” said Chambers, who took notice to the amount of free throws in the game.
Penn State goes on the road to Columbus Monday to face off against another conference foe Ohio State. That game will be at 7:00 PM on the Big Ten Network.
Mark Fagnani is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email email@example.com.