Men’s Basketball Loses Double Overtime Heartbreaker to Charlotte
Despite a late three pointer by John Johnson near the end of regulation to send the game into overtime, the Nittany Lions fell to the Charlotte 49ers in the opening round of the Charleston Classic, 106-97.
D.J. Newbill led all Penn State scorers with a career-high 35 points, going 14-33 from the floor, while also chipping in eight rebounds, one assist, and two steals.
The Nittany Lions started out of the gate sloppy, allowing Charlotte to jump ahead quickly with some big threes. The 49ers made the most of their first half shots, shooting 57 percent, compared to Penn State’s abysmal 39. Despite the defensive miscues, the Lions only trailed 40-34 at halftime.
The start of the second half was similar to the first, as the 49ers jumped out to as much as a 17-point lead. But momentum began to swing in Penn State’s favor after a few defensive stops and some big-time shots by Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner, who finished with 19 points and 14 points respectively. Geno Thorpe provided a big spark off the bench, chipping in 14 points, two rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Thorpe was crucial down the stretch, hitting key free throws that kept the game within reach. John Johnson was the hero late, hitting a three on the wing to tie the game up 83-83 after D.J. Newbill got his own rebound and kicked it outside with less than two seconds to go in the frame.
Free throws were an unusual bright spot for Penn State, as the team went 22-for-28 from the charity stripe.
In the first overtime, the two teams traded blows in what was a physical five minutes of basketball. The Nittany Lions were without the services of big man Jordan Dickerson down the stretch, as the seven-foot center got himself into foul trouble and stayed on the bench.
With both teams unable to outdo the other after 45 minutes of play, the game went into double overtime tied at 90 apiece. Charleston jumped out to an early lead in the second overtime period, thanks to some big second chance opportunities. With the deficit at four, the Nittany Lions were able to hang around thanks to a great steal by Garner, who drove to the rim and finished a nice layup to keep it close.
All momentum was lost after Newbill coughed up the ball with the Nittany Lions down 99-95, leading to Taylor fouling out on the other end. A big layup by Charlotte put the game away, ending any chances at a comeback.
Officiating was questionable throughout the entire game, especially on a flagrant-one that was called on Taylor late in the second half. Despite the sloppy play, this team flashed signs of life late in the game, but defensive miscues and missed shots early on really hindered the team.
Charlotte guard Braxton Ogbueze led the 49ers with 26 points, and went a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line.
The Nittany Lions will take on Cornell on Friday in the second game of the Classic in a consolation matchup. The Big Red fell to South Carolina on Thursday.