Penn State Men’s Basketball Falls to Purdue to End Season
Penn State’s Cinderella run ended in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament after falling to Purdue, 69-61.
After coming from behind over the last two contests, it looked there was some magic left in March, but the Boilermakers proved to be too much to handle.
A role reversal from in nights past, it was the Nittany Lions to strike first a jump out to the early lead. A pair of Myles Dread triples put them up early heading into the first media timeout, 12-2.
As the half moved along, Jalen Pickett and Penn State put Zach Edey in tough spots with pick and rolls and were able to find success.
It was a rough start for star Jaden Ivey put as it hit the under-eight timeout he was beginning to feel it.
With just over four minutes left in the half the sophomore brought Gainbridge Fieldhouse to its feet, as he rose and drilled a deep 3-pointer to bring Purdue within two and then block a Sam Sessoms runner to force a shot-clock violation.
After being down by as many as 10, the Boilermakers took the lead for the first time when Brandon Newman, who hadn’t scored since Jan. 17, nailed a right-wing three with 2:43 left, 30-28.
After a sluggish first 10 minutes, Purdue flipped the script and made nine of its last 10 shots to take the halftime lead, 35-31.
“Probably a rookie mistake by me because we were moving the basketball, we were in a good flow, and then like I forced us to be too stagnant,” coach Micah Shrewsberry said on what changed that allowed Purdue to get back in the game.
Pickett and John Harrar were tied for a team-high with nine points. While for the Boilermakers, Ivey led all scorers with 11 points with Newman just behind him with seven.
The Nittany Lions also lost a big piece in Greg Lee, who left the first half with an apparent ankle injury.
Like at the end of the first half, Purdue continued to play well extending its lead up to eight.
Penn State still had some fight and was able to cut into the lead, but the Boilermakers had an answer. A Pickett 3-pointer made it just a five-point game, then Newman buried an in-rhythm trifecta to take the wind out of the blue and white’s sails with just under 13 minutes remaining.
With Harrar and Dread in foul trouble and Lee out for the game, Shrewsberry opted for a smaller lineup with under 10 minutes left and Purdue took advantage of it.
Trevion Williams drew the attention on the low block and then swung a one-handed skip pass to Eric Hunter Jr. for a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to put the black and gold up by 12.
Then, Jaheam Cornwall, who struggled all year, brought Penn State back to life drilling two straight 3-pointers. Harrar and Sessoms made a pair of baskets and just like that it was a one-point ball game.
“Not wanting to go home, playing for our seniors,” Pickett said on what sparked his team’s fight. “I think that's something that we all knew we had to do.”
However, like they had done the entire second half, the Boilermakers responded. They ended the game with a 7-0 run, including a coast-to-coast finish by Ivey, but it was led by their tenacious defense not giving the Penn State playmakers any room.
For Shrewsberry, it was tough to fall to his former team, but he couldn’t be happier with his group of players.
“They're just some warriors. I love our fight, I love how we compete,” Shrewsberry said. “The guys that are seniors kind of put their blind trust in me and they didn't have to, and the way that they fought and the way that they competed all year, man, I'm so proud of these guys.”
Pickett, who transferred from Sienna, announced during the postgame press conference that he will be using his extra year of eligibility to come back next year.
The Nittany Lions finish the season with a 14-17 overall record with a 7-13 mark in Big Ten play.
It was a year filled with positives for the first-year head coach, but he is already gearing up for next season.
“We'll be back again next year. We might have some new faces, but we'll have some old faces,” Shrewsberry said. “I told them remember this moment, remember how it feels right now because you have to go through this to get where you want to get.”
Matthew Scalzo is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second Year / Broadcast Journalism