Penn State Falls to Rutgers in THON Game
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Nittany Lions took on the Scarlet Knights in the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday for the 2019 THON Game.
These teams are no stranger to each other, as this was their 73rd matchup. Obviously, this season has not gone as planned for either team but that wasn’t on anyone’s mind tonight.
The Nittany Lions came out of the gate with an edge. It all started with a Josh Reaves alley-oop from half court to Mike Watkins. It continued when Rasir Bolton and Lamar Stevens both knocked down threes, and it seemed like it was never going to end.
But of course it did. Once Rutgers’ guard play took over, the tables turned.
With the 2-3 zone defense of the Nittany Lions, their leading scorer Eugene Omoruyi was having trouble getting the shots he wanted early. What the 2-3 zone defense also does is leave more space around the perimeter.
This opportunity allowed Geo Baker and Montez Mathis to get some favorable shots. Good teams will find answers to different defenses and Rutgers was doing just that.
At the half, one glaring conclusion would emerge. The Nittany Lions were not playing bad, they just were not playing well enough. There certainly were more positives to the Nittany Lions play then there has been in other games this season.
The beginning of the second half was more of the same. The two teams were battling for momentum, but this game felt like it was going to come down to the final minutes.
Rutgers would try and expand their lead but each time they did, the Nittany Lions battled their way back into it. For a team that is still looking to pick up there first conference win, they are very resilient to say the least.
“They go up, and we fight back," Penn State head coach Pat Chambers said after the game. "I love the team’s grit.”
When you think of Penn State basketball, players like Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves come to mind and rightfully so as they are key players on this team. However, it was some of the players who maybe don’t get enough credit that made critical plays that kept the Nittany Lions in this game.
Freshman Myles Dread had a key block and hit some key 3-pointers to dig the Nittany Lions out of some holes in the first half. Mike Watkins was quietly having a day on the boards and in the post, and Jamari Wheeler was doing about as much as one can do against Geo Baker.
The final minute of the game was going to decide this one. In games like this, one play can decide an entire game. With 13 seconds left, the Nittany Lions had to foul Rutgers and hope for at least one miss.
Surprisingly, it actually happened.
Rasir Bolton immediately sprints the ball down the court off the rebound. He runs into the near side corner, steps back and launches the ball into the air.
Lucky for Rutgers, the prayer shot did not fall and the Nittany Lions are still stuck at seven wins on the season. What seemed like a Big Ten win just fell short for Penn State.
“We are gonna breakthrough,” Chambers said.
Penn State fans everywhere sure hope he is right.
Ben Borus is a freshman studying Advertising/P.R. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.