MBB: Penn State Loses Thriller To Indiana In Final Seconds

Audio/Story posted January 19, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Tia Pattillo

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- In what was a back and forth battle down the court all night long, Penn State (11-8, 3-3 Big Ten) dropped a home match on a buzzer beater to the Indiana Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten), 78-75.

Coming off of a 14-point comeback win against Minnesota, Pat Chambers and his crew looked to capitalize on their momentum and take down the Hoosiers at home but instead fell seconds short.

In the early minutes of the game, it seemed as though the experience and composure of the Hoosiers offense would takeover, but the Nittany Lions showed potential in the long run around the board.

Julian Moore got off to a hot start in the paint, putting the first six points on the board for the Nittany Lions. Freshman Lamar Stevens quickly got in on the action with a slam over Indiana’s 6-8 forward OG Anunoby. Stevens grabbed four early rebounds, opening up opportunities for transition down the floor.

Head coach Pat Chambers started out in a 2-3 defense, forcing Indiana to settle for the outside shot, which led to a 4:47 scoring drought.

“We were playing our pace,” Chambers said. “It was an extremely physical game and we came out ready to go.”

Momentum slowed for both teams in the second part of the first half as key players got into foul trouble. The fire to the Penn State defense, Josh Reaves, picked up two early fouls along with Payton Banks, Stevens, and Moore.

With 4:09 left to play in the first half after Indiana went on a 6-0 run, a critical shot from behind the arc from freshman Tony Carr provided a spark for the Nittany Lion offense. Carr drove the lane multiple times, getting to the foul line on several occasions. Carr was 6-7 from the line in the first half and finished going 10-11.

 

Second chance opportunities on the Hoosiers offensive end allowed Tom Crean’s team to pull away at the end of the first, taking their largest lead of nine with 22.1 seconds left to play. The Hoosiers outrebounded the Nittany Lions 21-16 in the first half and headed into the locker room with a 44-37 lead.

“Foul trouble killed us in the first half. Timely offensive turnovers and timely offensive rebounds,” Chambers said. “We have to work on the simple things to compete. We need it more consistently.”

The second half started out sloppily for Penn State on the defensive end. Miscommunication led to turnovers, giving Indiana a 49-40 lead with 17 minutes left to play.

Three steals from Reaves, who is second in the Big Ten in steals, contributed significantly to the Penn State defense, but missed layup opportunities let the Hoosiers keep the lead 56-47 with 13:13 left to play in the second.

Shep Garner started to play some inspired basketball halfway through the second, going 3-3 from beyond the arc. Garner finished with 15 points on the night, going 4-7 from deep. Despite an offensive spark, it was the Penn State defense that kept them in the game.

Shooting a measly 33% from the field with 6:37 left to play, the Nittany Lions continued to struggle down the stretch. A much needed dunk from Reaves and three from Carr from the far corner brought Penn State within six with 2:52 left to play in the game.

“We go into practice and we put in a lot of work,” Garner said.  “We know we can go into any gym, any arena and give up a good fight, and that’s what we did tonight.”

Chambers broke out the full-court press with two minutes left to play which led to an Indiana turnover and a Carr layup. A massive three from Garner from the corner with 39.3 left to play brought the Nittany Lions within two, 75-73.

Stevens, who struggled after the opening minutes of the game, forced a turnover on the defensive end and drew the foul to head to the line. He knocked down both free throws to tie the game 75-75 with 4.6 left on the clock.

In a last second effort down the court, Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr. hit a three point shot in the face of Moore to hand Chambers and his team a heartbreaking loss. Blackmon had 17 points on the night.

“It’s tough when you lose on a shot like that,” Carr said. “You put all of your effort into a comeback, but we have to stop digging ourselves in that deep of a hole.”

Carr finished with 24 points on the night.

The Nittany Lions hit the road for two tough games at Purdue and Wisconsin before they return to the Bryce Jordan Center to face Illinois on Jan. 28. Tip off is set for 4:30 p.m.

 

Tia Pattillo is a junior majoring in psychology neuroscience. To contact her, email tpp5065@psu.edu.