Minutemen Light up Nittany Lion defense; Penn State falls to UMass

Story posted November 15, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

Coach Micah Shrewsberry’s return to Massachusetts turned sour as Penn State fell to the UMass Minutemen 81-56 in Amherst.

The Minutemen found their stroke offensively as the team shot 48.1% on the floor and 44.8% from beyond the arc. Penn State struggled putting up the rock and finished the night 37.3% on the floor and only 26.7% from downtown.

Junior forward Seth Lundy led the Nittany Lions with 14 points on 4-7 shooting, with 2-4 from three-point land, and grabbing four rebounds. Alongside Lundy was senior guard Sam Sessoms with 12 points on 50% shooting.

“Hats off to UMass,” Shrewsberry said. “They did some things tonight that were different than how they’ve played.”

Penn State had trouble containing fifth-year guard Rich Kelly and junior guard C.J. Kelly. Rich Kelly finished the game with 17 points while going 4-7 from the perimeter, as C.J. Kelly also tallied 17 points to his name on 5-9 shooting from the court.

The main focus of this game was on former Nittany Lion forward Trent Buttrick, who led all scorers with 19 points, getting a good majority of the tally from the free-throw line sinking eight of nine.

The Nittany Lions kept it close heading into halftime, but a slow start caused the Minutemen to find their stroke and increase their lead after a long run early in the second half. Ultimately, Shrewsberry could not rally the troops together to make a comeback.

“I thought they set the tone of the game with their toughness and how quickly they move the ball,” Shrewsberry said. “I felt like we were a step behind all night.”

Penn State led the rebound category 35 to 29, with an even split for both halves statistically. UMass, however, hustled to grab boards in the second half, getting 19 off the glass compared to their first-half total of 10.

The Nittany Lions found their Achilles’ heel in the turnover department, as the team committed 15 turnovers to the Minutemen’s eight. As a result, UMass managed to score 17 points off of those turnovers compared to Penn State’s seven.

The high intensity the UMass brought on defense was a factor in their miscues on offense, especially 94 feet from Penn State’s basket.

“We weren’t ready for that intensity that they started the game with or played with,” Shrewsberry said. “[UMass] going to that three-quarter court press kind of slowed us down.  It got us out of our rhythm and what we wanted to do.”

The Nittany Lions had opportunities to find a forward roll to the basket on the pick-and-roll, but UMass stood tall when hedging screens. This clustered the guard’s vision and forced them to swing the ball around the perimeter.

“George Mason did the same kind of thing in ball screen defense, and we struggled with it,” Shrewsberry said. “Our guys need to bounce out and get away from the screen.”

With a 25-point loss in the books, Shrewsberry is now focused on moving onto the next game, leaving the previous one in the past.

“It’s one game,” Shrewsberry said. “We’re going to stay consistent in our message: to try and play as hard as we can every single night.”

Penn State returns home to the Bryce Jordan Center to take on the St. Francis of Brooklyn Terriers on Nov. 18, with tipoff set at 7 p.m.

Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him a jrd6052@psu.edu.