Penn State Suffers First Home Loss in Conference Opener against Michigan State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On a night where Penn State fans at the Bryce Jordan Center celebrated their team’s “gritty, not pretty” motto, the Nittany Lions were beaten at their own game by Michigan State on Wednesday.
The Spartans (6-4) came into town and wore down Penn State (6-3) to the tune of a 67-58 victory, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process.
“We got one chance at Michigan State,” Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “Maybe I put too much pressure on our guys.”
Both Big Ten squads came out of the gates slow on the offensive side of the ball, scoring a combined eight points through the first five minutes of play.
Not soon after, a 9-2 Penn State run consisting of a trifecta of three pointers served as a spark plug for the thrilling 15 minutes that ensued.
After trailing by double figures, Michigan State slowly gnawed its way back with a few runs of its own. The Spartans knocked down four of their last six shots of the half, knotting the score at 35 apiece headed into the locker room.
One of the major storylines heading into the matchup was how the Nittany Lions would fare against Michigan State paint beasts Joey Hauser and Mady Sissoko. Through the first 20 minutes of play, Penn State answered the call, holding them to a combined four points.
For Penn State, no players broke through with a double-digit scoring effort, but the three ball continued to be the blue and white’s weapon of choice. The Nittany Lions finished the half 7-for-18 from long distance, providing 60 percent of their total scoring output.
“I like the threes that we took,” Shrewsberry said. “We had our moments in the first half.”
The second half provided just as much intrigue as the first, to the tune of an exhilarating 10 lead changes in as many minutes.
Michigan State managed to grab the lead with just under 10 minutes left to play – a lead they would retain for the remainder of the contest.
It was all Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard in the waning stages, combining for 23 of Michigan State’s 32 points during the second half.
Penn State was left without any answers for Hoggard all throughout the contest, who dropped a career-high 23 points on an 8-of-16 clip from the field. The junior guard was forced to step up into a bigger scoring role in the absence of senior forward Malik Hall, and he did so admirably.
“I know how he is, he’s a fighter,” Shrewsberry said regarding Hoggard.
Michigan State began the year with a disappointing 5-4 record, but head coach Tom Izzo was excited to put the beginning of the season behind him after Wednesday’s road victory.
“The end of nine games of hell. That was a hell of a way to end it, “ Izzo said.
Meanwhile for Penn State, Wednesday’s loss marked its first home loss in five contests at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions are back on the road against Illinois on Saturday at noon, looking to get back on track and collect their first conference win of the season.
Grant Sheets is a second-year majoring in public relations. To contact him, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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