Penn State entered Thursday night’s matchup in Nebraska with two victories in its last three road games, and a confidence that it could hang with any team in the Big Ten. Forty minutes later, the Nittany Lions (13-14, 4-10) left Lincoln broken, battled, and bruised, falling to the Cornhuskers (15-10, 7-6), 80-67.
Nebraska jumped out to a quick 5-0 and lead in front of a sold out crowd at the new Pinnacle Bank Arena and never looked back. Donovon Jack hit a three to stop the run, only his second made three in his past twenty attempts.
The Cornhuskers built an 8 point lead before Graham Woodward drilled a three pointer with 10:02 in the half to cut the deficit to 21-16. It was his 25th field goal of the year, 20 of which have been three pointers.
On the ensuing possession, Brandon Taylor got tangled up with Nebraska’s Terran Petteway — the Big Ten’s second leading scorer. Both were issued technical fouls. Petteway responded by going on a personal 5-0 scoring spree, pushing the lead to 28-18.
But an 8-1 run, thanks to a five minute Nebraska field goal drought, found the Lions down 31-26 with 3:13 left in the half. Yet the Lions, with D.J. Newbill on the bench for the final six minutes with two fouls, couldn’t find any offense, and went into the locker room down 39-27.
Newbill led Penn State with 8 points in the half. Petteway had 10 for the Cornhuskers. 23 fouls were called in the half, which at times felt more like a whistling exhibition than a basketball game.
All hope of a second half comeback was essentially erased by the first media timeout. The Cornhuskers came out of the locker room on a 12-6 run, and by the first commercial break Nebraska led, 51-33.
With 15:01 remaining in the game, Brandon Taylor picked up his second technical foul and was promptly ejected. Two minutes prior, Chambers received up a technical of his own for arguing with the refs. Ross Travis would pick up a technical later in the half as well, Penn State’s fourth of the game.
When Travis received his technical, with 10:01 remaining in the game, the Lions had acquired three technicals in the half and had only made five field goals.
The final ten minutes were a mere formality, a limp to the finish for the Lions who had entered with wins in two of its last three road games.
Tim Frazier started the game needing only 7 rebounds to become the first Nittany Lion to reach 1,000 points, 600 assists, and 500 rebounds in a career. He finished with 4 rebounds to go along with 17 points, which tied Newbill for the team high on the night. Petteway finished with 25 for the Cornhuskers.
The Lions return to the BJC on Thursday, Feb. 27, for a senior night matchup against Ohio State. The game tips at 7 p.m., and will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2.