Penn State (14-14, 6-9 Big Ten) returned to the Bryce Jordan Center Tuesday after a grueling 82-66 loss to Nebraska last week. After a full week of rest, the Nittany Lions took on No. 14 Purdue (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten) looking to avenge their loss earlier this season. It hasn’t been easy for ranked opponents coming into Happy Valley — Penn State has a four-game winning streak against nationally ranked teams at home. That streak was snapped tonight as Purdue pulled out the overtime victory against the Nittany Lions by a score of 74-70.
How It Happened
Penn State started off in control of this one, opening the game on a 12-2 run highlighted by this Julian Moore put-back slam below. The Nittany Lions got a solid balance of scoring during that stretch, with five different players getting on the board in the first four minutes of the game.
THROW IT DOWN!
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) February 21, 2017
It was clear that the seven days of rest were really beneficial to this young Nittany Lion team that’s been going through the rigors of Big Ten conference play. The energy that Pat Chambers’ squad brought tonight was evident early on. Penn State was active on both ends of the floor, really controlling the glass — which was a key factor coming into tonight. Mike Watkins had a phenomenal sequence with about seven minutes remaining in the first half — he grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds over Caleb Swanigan and eventually got to the foul line for his efforts.
What a wild sequence!
Mike Watkins just grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds vs. Caleb Swanigan. https://t.co/Dm3tWcuh66
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 21, 2017
The defensive play was off the charts for Penn State in the first half. Swanigan, who’s a National Player of the Year candidate came into this game averaging 18.9 points and 13 rebounds per game — but the stand-out sophomore was limited to only two points on one shot attempt and five rebounds in the first half. Penn State did an awesome job of boxing out and grabbing the boards as a team as they out rebounded Purdue, which is something that doesn’t happen often.
The Nittany Lions’ poor perimeter shooting kept this game close — only shooting 1-10 from range. The Boilermakers on the other hand made five first half treys which made it only a four point Penn State lead going into the locker room.
Josh Reaves got things going in the second half by starting the frame with two consecutive dunks. The Nittany Lions started the second half strong with Lamar Stevens producing the highlight of the night after his poster dunk on Swanigan off of the pick-and-roll.
It's a @PennStateMBB dunkfest!
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) February 22, 2017
Foul trouble in the second half forced Watkins to the bench for a solid portion of the frame and really limited his effectiveness. After Swanigan woke up for Purdue, the Boilermakers went on a run later in the second half to build up to an eight point with about three minutes left.
Then things got really exciting late in the game. Reaves forced an over-and-back violation thanks to his stingy defense that ignited a Penn State run. Then the Nittany Lions locked down defensively, limiting the Boilermakers into a lot of tough shots down the stretch.
Offensively, it was the Tony Carr show late. He scored 14 of Penn State’s final 18 points in regulation, including 12 in the final 4:40 of the half to give him 21 for the game. His play on the offensive side ball capped off the Nittany Lions’ late run and forced this game into overtime. Purdue had the last chance to win it in regulation, but Penn State’s defense was so great, the Boilermakers couldn’t even get a shot off.
In overtime, Reaves again was all over the floor defensively. His steal about a minute into the frame led to a Stevens bucket that opened the scoring for the final five minutes. With two minutes remaining and the game tied at 66, Stevens got a friendly bounce off the rim on a pull up jumper to give the Nittany Lions a two-point lead. But on the other end, Ryan Cline knocked down a crucial three to regain the lead for Purdue.
Swanigan drew a big-time charge on Stevens on the following possession, and you could feel the momentum swing at that moment. Cline then went down and hit his second consecutive three at the other end to give the Boilermakers a four point lead with less than a minute to play.
Penn State needed a huge stop with less than 30 seconds left down two. It forced a missed shot from Purdue, but could not control the rebound and was forced to foul. P.J. Thompson iced the game at the foul line with 13 seconds left and Purdue went on to win 74-70.
Player Of The Game
Ryan Cline | Sophomore | Guard
It could’ve been really easy to give the player of the game honor to Swanigan, who was clearly the best player of the night. But Cline hit the two big-time three balls that gave Purdue the lead for good in overtime. He finished the game with 11 points, with those two daggers late in the game, and tallied three assists.
Penn State will travel to Minnesota for its next game on Saturday afternoon for a Big Ten showdown against the Golden Gophers. The Nittany Lions will look to complete the series sweep against Minnesota for the second year in a row. The opening tip is scheduled for 3 p.m.