Penn State (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten) was unable to complete the comeback against the more experienced Wisconsin Badgers (4-5, 1-1 Big Ten) Monday night losing 64-63. Mike Watkins started hot early and kept it going all game while battling against All-American Ethan Happ. Down 17 points with 9:40 to go in the game, the Nittany Lions were able to come within one point with the ball and 10 seconds to go. Khalil Iverson led the Badgers with 16 points.
How It Happened
The first five minutes of the game were a battle of big men, Mike Watkins and Ethan Happ. Watkins scored eight of the first ten points for the Lions and added three blocks and two rebounds while getting Happ to commit his first personal foul. Coach Chambers decided to use a two big-man lineup for some time in the half to compete with Wisconsin’s size. Chamber utilized freshman John Harrar’s size and strength to compliment Mike Watkins down low.
Both teams attacked the paint, with Penn State scoring 12 and Wisconsin scoring 18 points dow low. Mike Watkins led the Nittany Lions with 14 points in the first half and Khalil Iverson scored 14 points for the Badgers. A late run helped Wisconsin take a 31-25 lead into the half.
The Badgers picked up where they left off to start the second half as Penn State struggled to hit shots. To this point, all Nittany Lions not named Mike Watkins were shooting 4-26 from the field on the game with Tony Carr only 2-13 with two turnovers. Wisconsin hit its largest lead, 51-34, with 9:33 left.
A 14-3 run highlighted by a Josh Reaves block on the defensive end and then a put-back dunk after a missed shot pushed Penn State within a possession with less than two minutes to go.
Coach Chambers has routinely gone to a 1-2-1-1 three-quarters press in the second half to give his team some momentum throughout the season. Josh Reaves and Tony Carr have been able to stifle opponents and cause mayhem through this press.
With 25 second to go in the game, the Lions cut Wisconsin’s lead to one point, 62-61, following a Tony Carr lay-up. Wisconsin star, Ethan Happ, fouled out of the game on a Tony Carr drive with 14 seconds to go in the game. Tony Carr was able to hit both free throws climbing closer to Wisconsin, 64-63.
Shooting one-and-one with 14 seconds to go, redshirt freshman Aleem Ford was unable to make his first shot allowing the Nittany Lions a chance of taking the lead. Coach Chambers elected to let his men play instead of using his last timeout and Tony Carr took a contested three pointer that resulted in a long rebound that was ruled a jump ball and given to Wisconsin with .6 seconds to go.
Mike Watkins finished with 22 points, Tony Carr scored 16, and Shep Garner finished with 13 points.
Player Of The Game
Mike Watkins | Redshirt Sophomore | Forward
Mike Watkins led the team all game with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots. Watkins battled against All Big Ten big man Ethan Happ all game while only committing one early foul.
The Nittany Lions take a break from the Big Ten slate to play George Washington University on Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will broadcast on the Big Ten Network.