Although they were leading the Big Ten Conference in free throw percentage going into the game, Penn State’s performance from the foul line killed them in the end.
On Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center, both Penn State and Nebraska were looking for their first conference victory. The game began in excitement of THON, with over 50 Four Diamonds families sitting behind the basket, and plenty of in-game THON festivities.
Both teams struggled on the offensive end to start off the game, with a score of just 10-7 in favor of Nebraska after 8 minutes. After 12, sophomore guard D.J. Newbill had committed 2 fouls, putting Nick Colella in the point guard position. As the first half went on, Nebraska pushed to their biggest lead of the game, up 10 with 3:26 left in the half.
Kevin Montminy, a sophomore guard, sunk a buzzer-beating 3 pointer to end the first half, closing Nebraska’s lead to just 5, 33-28.
The second half got off to a quicker start, seeing multiple lead changes and tied scores, yet the Nittany Lions still struggled on the defensive end.
With just under 8 minutes left, the crowd roared as Jermaine Marshall was fouled from behind the arc and sunk all 3 from the line, pushing Penn State to a 52-48 lead. Soon after, though, the Huskers went on an 11-0 run, re-gaining the lead at 59-52.
Penn State inched closer and closer as Marshall hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left, giving Nebraska just a 3-point lead.
Things were looking up when Newbill stole the ball, drove through the lane, and was fouled. A flagrant-1 foul (sending both Newbill and Ross Travis to the line) was called, and gave Penn State the opportunity to take the lead; however, Penn State went 1-4 from the charity stripe.
With 24 seconds left, Marshall was fouled, sending Shavon Shields (who recorded a whopping 29 points for the Huskers) out of the game. After he missed both shots, Nebraska maintained possession and finished the game with 2 free throws from Brandon Ubel, who has struggled lately with an elbow injury but ended up with 12 points.
Penn State ended up going 15-24 from the foul line as the Huskers finished at 100%, going 16-16. Newbill and Marshall, who both set personal records on Wednesday night against Michigan State in scoring, combined for 29 points.
After the game, head coach Patrick Chambers claimed, “We didn’t deserve to win…You have to play Big Ten basketball and play hard. We had our chance and we didn’t convert and didn’t get it done.”
The Nittany Lions are now 0-5 in the Big Ten Conference and 8-10 on the season. They take on #2 Indiana on Wednesday night in Bloomington.