Long Ball Plagues Penn State
I could end this recap with that word alone. Penn State (6-4) fell to Lafayette (4-5) 61-57 in what was by far the team’s worst effort of the year. This performance ranks up there with Maine from last season as one of the worst losses over the last decade for Penn State basketball.
We all knew the Nittany Lions were in for a rough year, but most people had this game circled as one that Penn State should win. This marks the first time Penn State has ever lost to a Patriot League opponent (25-1 now), with Lafayette being a middle of the road team in that conference at best.
Penn State took the lead early, but they would never get it back after Lafayette went on a 10-0 run in the middle of the first half. The Nittany Lions would go into the half down 37-32 after struggling to take good shots.
Led by Jermaine Marshall, Penn State would battle back in the second half to bring the game within 2 with over 2 minutes left. After a couple bad possessions by Penn State and a made free throw by the Leopolds, Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlan attempted to call a timeout, not realizing his team did not have any timeouts remaining.
This mental error resulted in a technical foul and put Penn State on the free throw line. Tim Frazier hit 1 of 2 shots, but there wasn’t enough time on the clock to get another chance to win.
Throughout the game, Lafayette was able to successfully run a top heavy press, slowing Penn State down and preventing them from getting many good looks at shots, especially from outside the arc. That preparation, combined with Tim Frazier having the worst game of any Penn State starter I have ever seen, led to the Lion’s demise.
The stat breakdown is absolutely abysmal. Penn State shot 3(!) of 23 from three-point range. For a team that relies on the long ball with their small size, only managing 13% from behind the arc left them looking clueless for most of the game. Shooting 33% from the floor also won’t cut it no matter who you play.
Tim Frazier was completely embarrassing. I’m not usually one to pin the loss on one player, but Frazier deserves all the criticism he gets after this game. Frazier shot 0-12 from the floor and showed little poise or confidence. He finished with 3 points all from free-throws, but even then he missed a crucial shot from the charity stripe down the stretch that put the nail in the coffin for Penn State.
Frazier also added another 5 turnovers to his already remarkably high season total of 40. This was supposed to be his team, but he often looks lost when driving to the basket or dribbling with any kind of pressure. Don’t get me wrong — Frazier has the best shot on the team when he gets space — but his confidence needs to improve, and improve quickly.
One of the few bright spots for Penn State was Jermaine Marshall. Marshall had 20 points with 9 rebounds and was the only player who seemed to be able to find an open look. When Frazier collapsed, Marshall was the only player to step up and take shots.
The freshman duo of Matt Glover and Ross Travis continued to rack up quality minutes. Travis put up 12 points of his own, and would’ve had a lot more had he not shot a putrid 1-7 from the free-throw line. Glover’s shot wasn’t working, but he fought hard for 9 boards and is a defensive asset who dives after balls more than any player on this team. Cammeron Woodyard also notched a quiet 10 point performance of his own.
Penn State has a lot to work on before they play Duquesne at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The squad has regressed significantly over the last two games, which is never a good sign for a young, volatile team like this one. The Big Ten is going to eat this team alive every night unless Pat Chambers turns out to be a magician. And we all know how it worked out for the last magician at Penn State…