Brockington, Nittany Lions Hold on against Maryland in Defensive Dog Fight

Story posted February 6, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack McCune

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Defensive stops and rebounds got Penn State (7-8, 4-7) the 55-50 victory over Maryland (10-9, 4-8) Friday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

But with a 53-48 advantage with three minutes to go, the lead nearly vanished. Penn State coughed the ball up four times in the closing span, but the Terps were able to capitalize on just one of their steals when guard Eric Ayala converted two free throws.

Shooting woes bugged Maryland all game long. The junior Ayala put up 23 points and was a perfect 9-of-9 from the line, but he was the only double-figure scorer in black and red as his team shot 35%.

But Penn State was even worse from the field at 31%, and the teams went a combined 8-of-40 from beyond the arc. Myreon Jones and Seth Lundy had two points apiece in the low-scoring affair.

But the Nittany Lions were more successful doing the dirty work. The Nittany Lions won the rebound game 40-29 thanks to 12 grabs from senior John Harrar. His team played lockdown defense at the end when the Terrapins failed to make a field goal in the final seven and a half minutes.

“Our guys gutted out a really tough win when we weren’t at our best,” said interim head coach Jim Ferry, whose team scored just 23 points in the first half for their fewest of the season. “[Jones and Lundy] just didn’t really have it tonight, … but we stayed with each other and just kept defending and rebounding.”

Ten more bench points from the Blue and White than their opponent made a big difference. Junior Myles Dread played without a brace on his right shoulder for the first time since his injury against Illinois in late January. He had eight buckets that included a 3-pointer with four and a half minutes left that gave his team a seven-point advantage.

Harrar was proud of the way he and his teammates scrapped out a win when they couldn’t find an offensive rhythm, and he thinks it should be an emphasis moving forward.

“I was telling the team earlier that we scored one more point against Wisconsin, but we lost by [16],” Harrar said. “We can win games when we score 55 or 56 points, but it’s just about getting stops, not getting down on yourself, keeping positive body language and knowing that we’re going to be in this game within the final four minutes.”

The victory is the lowest scoring one by far for the Nittany Lions, as their second-lowest was a 72-point win against VCU in December.

Penn State will head to East Lansing to face Michigan State Tuesday night at 7. The 8-7 Spartans are lower in the Big Ten standings than the Nittany Lions, who secured the 10th spot on the ladder as the Terrapins fall to 11. Michigan State has lost four straight and is facing last place Nebraska on Saturday.

Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jxm1237@psu.edu.