Penn State only led for six seconds last night in Bloomington, Indiana. Fortunately, for the Nittany Lions, it was the last six seconds. And in thrilling fashion, Penn State (13-12, 4-8) erased a 12 point deficit with 3:27 to play en route to a 66-65 victory.
Indiana jumped out to a 6-2 lead before forward Brandon Taylor drilled a long two pointer and center Donovon Jack made a layup on the ensuing possession to tie the game.
Penn State’s first six baskets were scored by six different players, and eight of the nine Nittany Lions who played in the half scored in the first twenty minutes. The scoring distribution for the previous three games — of which Penn State lost two — were decidedly uneven, as Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill led the team in scoring in each.
A Will Sheehey dunk with 12:13 remaining in the half gave Indiana a 15-8 lead. The basket found the Hoosiers shooting 7-8 from the field to begin the game.
However, whenever Indiana started to pull away before the halftime break, three point specialists John Johnson and Graham Woodward had the answers. A Johnson three with 7:13 remaining quelled a Hoosier run, and brought the Lions within a point, 21-20. And back to back long balls from Woodward and Johnson with 4:06 in the half once again put Penn State within a possession, 29-28.
Woodward and Johnson, along with Jack, led the Lions with six points each in the first half. Despite shooting 59% from the field, Indiana kept Penn State in the game with 10 first half turnovers.
Indiana closed the half on a 7-2 run to take a 36-30 advantage to the locker rooms.
D.J. Newbill scored only 2 points in the first twenty minutes. He came into the game averaging 20 points per game over the last four games. He finished with 7 points.
Frazier led the Lions with six assists and four steals in the game, and finished with 14 points.
Like any experienced home team, the Hoosiers came out with fury to begin the second half. Indiana quickly jumped out to an eight point lead, 38-30, after a Noah Vonleh layup with 19:14 to play in the game. The Hoosiers made six of their first seven shots in the half.
Much of the next eight minutes were played within an 8 to 10 point window. However, a Yogi Ferell three pointer with 11:22 remaining gave Indiana its biggest lead up to that point, 54-41.
But Penn State responded with a Taylor three, a Ross Travis basket and the foul, and a Geno Thorpe and-one — part of a 10-2 run — to bring the deficit to 5 points with 6:27 remaining.
Indiana answered with 6 straight points, yet a Brandon Taylor three pointer and then layup on the next possession brought Penn State within two with 1:06 to go.
Penn State found itself still down two with 33 seconds to play. A Johnson turnover gave the ball right back to the Hoosiers. Frazier intercepted the ensuing inbounds, dished it off to Travis, who was fouled on his way to the basket.
Travis missed the first, made the second. Trailing 65-64, the Lions once again forced a turnover on Indiana’s next possession. Frazier made a layup on the next possession, to remarkably give Penn State its first lead of the game. Yogi Ferell missed a buzzer beater on the other end, and the Lions escaped with an improbable victory.
The Lions ended the game on a 15-2 run.
Penn State hosts #16 Iowa this Saturday at 1:00 p.m.