We’ve Seen This Movie Before: Penn State Falls To Maryland 64-58
It was billed as a battle between the two best guards in the Big Ten, but in the end it was the better team that prevailed as Penn State fell to No. 16 Maryland 64-58 at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland.
It was the second straight close road loss for the Nittany Lions (14-9, 2-8 Big Ten), who fell to Illinois 60-58 on Saturday. Penn State had the Terrapins on the ropes, trailing by one with under two minutes left in the game, but a costly foul on D.J. Newbill and a controversial no-call on the opposite end left the Lions falling flat once again.
Dez Wells led the way for Maryland with 23 points and seven rebounds and ex-Penn Stater Jon Graham ignited the Terps in the second half with 16 points and six boards. Newbill was the top scorer for the Lions with 18 points and also grabbed seven boards, as Geno Thorpe was the only other double-digit scorer for Penn State.
How It Happened
Penn State, as it has done so many times this season, hung around with the heavily-favorited Terrapins for the first half. Thorpe got the Lions going early with eight first half points. Maryland’s offense was slow to get going as point guard Melo Trimble struggled for much of the first half, but a last minute drive by Wells gave Maryland a 29-28 lead at the end of the half.
When the second half got started, Jon Graham — who played his freshman and sophomore seasons for Penn State under Pat Chambers before transferring — came to life.
Graham, who came in averaging just 2.3 points per game, played as if he had something to prove against his former team. He dropped seven points in the first few minutes as Maryland sprinted out to a 39-31 lead.
The Lions managed to close the gap as Newbill got going midway through the half. Around the 10-minute mark, he found Devin Foster in transition to give Penn State a 47-46 lead. The two teams traded the lead a couple times until Penn State forced a turnover leading to a Foster runout to tie it up 52-52.
After struggling for much of the game, Maryland’s Trimble showed his playmaking capability by finding Jake Layman for an open jumper and then setting up a wide open Damonte Dodd for a slam on the next possession. With two minutes left, Brandon Taylor, seeing his first action since injuring his knee against Rutgers, knocked down a three from the perimeter to cut Maryland’s lead to 57-55. The next time down the floor, Wells got inside position on Thorpe to stretch the lead back out, but Taylor came back down to nail another deep shot from the opposite wing.
On Maryland’s next possession, Newbill got tangled up with Wells for a costly foul call leading to a 1-and-1. Wells hit both free throws giving the Terps a three-point lead.
With under 40 seconds left, Penn State put the ball in Newbill’s hands as expected. The senior got in the lane and drew a defender in the air, jumping up to make contact before shooting a jumper. To the Lions’ surprise, nothing was called and Newbill missed. Wells was fouled and hit a free throw to officially put it out of reach.
Player of the Game
Senior Dez Wells put Maryland on his back en route to his 23 points. His clutch shooting from the field and free throw line in the game’s closing minutes sealed it.
Wells also became a thing of Vine legend after ferociously throwing down on Donovon Jack midway through the second half.
Stat of the Game
Graham’s 16 points was a career high and an absolute anomaly for Penn State fans who watched Graham flail around in the paint for two bad years of Penn State basketball. Graham ate up the Lions’ inconsistent front court early in the second half.
Tweet of the Game
Penn State has a legitimate shot to bounce back when it takes on Nebraska (13-9, 5-5 Big Ten) at the Bryce Jordan Center for the annual THON game at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Photo: Mary Langenfeld/USA TODAY Sports