Penn State Knocked Out of Big Ten Tournament by Wisconsin, Comeback Falls Short

Story posted March 12, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack McCune

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Tears and heartbreak were present on the Penn State sideline as the Nittany Lions lost to Wisconsin 75-74 in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“There’s a lot of emotions in the locker room right now,” said teary-eyed interim head coach Jim Ferry after the game, who could’ve seen his last minutes as the headman if his squad is not invited to a postseason tournament. “I just wish I could’ve done a little bit more for our guys… Hopefully we get an opportunity to play a little more here.”

Junior guard Sam Sessoms was the leading scorer coming off the bench with 18 points for his season high, but it wasn’t quite enough. After Wisconsin was up 59-42 with 13 minutes to go for the Badgers’ largest lead, he led his team on a dominant 17-2 run in which he had 13 buckets. He made two from the line with 1:22 to go to make it a one-point game.

After a defensive stop on the other end when junior Myles Dread blocked a layup attempt by Wisconsin’s D’Mitrik Trice, Sessoms saw the ball in his hands with about half a minute left on the clock and no timeouts.

He dribbled around the perimeter with an unplugged shot clock for a final opportunity to win or go home. But he took too much time, and with just seconds left he drove to the right baseline and the ball was stripped from his hands and was about to go out of bounds.

Before it hit the black and blue paint, senior Badgers guard Brad Davison snagged it and signaled for a timeout as he fell to the floor with 0.3 seconds showing on the clocks. The officials awarded his team the timeout, and after review the call was confirmed as Wisconsin inbounded and the final buzzer sounded.

Despite Sessoms’ impressive efforts to give his team a chance, tears came trickling down his face after his turnover on the final possession. But Ferry quickly reminded him that he was the reason they had an opportunity to win it.

“I told him I love him,” Ferry said. “I appreciate every single one of [these players]. We all grew from this, from this season.”

The Badgers let the 3-ball fly with great success when they shot 52% from beyond. Senior Aleem Ford made five 3’s for a team-high 17 points as Davison and Jonathan Davis joined him in double figures.

Senior Jamari Wheeler continued his hot streak when he scored 10 in the first half to keep Penn State within reach for a 41-31 deficit at halftime. But he was unable to keep it going after the break when he shot just once for a goose egg on the scoreboard.

Despite just six points from senior John Harrar, the big man showed his impact when he helped the Nittany Lions win the rebound battle 34-25 with 10 boards of his own. Penn State was +21 when he was on the floor.

The loss could potentially be the last time Harrar, Wheeler and the rest of the senior class play college basketball, depending on whether the Nittany Lions are invited to a tournament, most likely the 16-team NIT. But Ferry did say that if they are invited, they will be playing.

 

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