In what is becoming an all too familiar occurrence, Penn State let a second half lead fall through its grasp and lost in a heartbreaking manner. On a snowy Saturday night in West Lafayette, the Nittany Lions led by three with a minute remaining, only to fall short, 65-64. The loss brings Penn State to 9-10, 0-6 on the year.
The first twelve minutes of the game were a decidedly uneven affair. The Lions struggled to find the bottom of the net, and could not find a way to slow down Purdue’s backcourt three point shooting attack. At one point in the half, Penn State was shooting 3-16 from the field.
However, a Ross Travis jumper with 5:41 remaining in the half sparked a 9-0 run that ultimately found the Lions tied at 26 with three minutes until the break. And with 2:06 to go, a pair of Tim Frazier foul shots gave Penn State its first lead, 29-28. A few traded baskets later, the half ended with the Boilermakers ahead 35-33.
Frazier paced the Lions with 11 points in the half — one of dix players to score. Donovon Jack and Graham Woodward each had a pair of three pointers throughout the half that kept the Lions within reach while the rest of its offense faltered. Brandon Taylor also added a three after going a combined 0-8 from behind the arc in the previous two games.
The second half began much like the first ended. Purdue led for the first eight minutes but never by more than five points. With 10:23 remaining, D.J. Newbill crossed-over his defender and sunk a floater to give the Lions its first lead of the half, 45-44.
A four minute field goal drought for Purdue found Penn State ahead 53-50 with 6:30 remaining. However, the Boilermaker’s Terone Johson nailed a three pointer to tie the game on the ensuing possession.
Purdue’s star center A.J. Hammons was held without a field goal and often wasn’t as big a presence as his seven foot frame. With around four minutes to play, Penn State center Donovon Jack blocked Hammons, then a Purdue guard twice in consecutive possessions. Newbill scored on the other end to give the Lions’ its largest lead up to that point, 58-55, with 3:34 to play. Jack had four blocks on the evening.
Terone Johnson’s layup with 17 second remaining brought the Boilermakers within a point, 62-61. A pair of Newbill foul shot’s brought the lead back to three. Johnson then hit a three pointer from the corner to tie the game. The Lions threw the ball away on the ensuing inbounds, which gave Purdue the ball with 1.8 seconds remaining.
The inbounds went to Hammons, who was fouled upon catching the ball and thus went to the free throw line with 1.1 seconds remaining. The center made the first, missed the second, but it didn’t matter at that point. A last second full court heave by Frazier sailed well over the basket, and the game was over.
Frazier finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. Newbill contributed 17 points and 9 rebounds.
Penn State returns to the Jordan Center on Thursday against Nebraska.