Oh, My Aching Heart: Penn State Loses A Heartbreaker To Maryland, 76-73

In what has become a reoccurring theme, Penn State falls in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable despite an inspiring second half charge. A horrible make-up call on Jordan Dickerson swung the momentum in favor of the Terps, and an uncharacteristic blunder by D.J. Newbill–who led the team with 25 points–allowed the Terps to stay on top. Although he had a chance at the end to send the game to overtime, it just wasn’t meant to be.

It feels like somebody stabbed me in the back, because this game seemed like it was going to be different. Maybe, just maybe, Penn State could squeak one out. But alas, fans leave the Bryce Jordan Center filled with disappointment and a feeling of, “what if?” Ugh. Let’s see how this one played out.

How It Happened 

This first half was hands down one of the most exciting first halves that Penn State has played all season. D.J. Newbill and Geno Thorpe opened up the scoring for Penn State, but the Terps would not back down as Dez Wells and Melo Trimble each added jumpers of their own to make it 5-4 early on.

The next few minutes consisted of both teams battling back and forth, with neither team seeming to find a way to outdo the other. Five big points from Newbill, coupled with a jumper by Ross Travis, gave the Nittany Lions a 16-13 lead at the 11:45 mark. The threes began to fall as the half progressed, with Thorpe and Jake Layman trading buckets from downtown to keep it within two.

A three pointer by Richaud Pack erased Penn State’s late six point lead with under two to play in the half, and Dez Wells’ layup off a Newbill miss got the Terps to within a single point. Wells and Travis would both hit free throws to make it a 34-33 ballgame in favor of Penn State going into the half, instilling some life into the crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center as it seemed things were finally taking a positive turn for the Nittany Lions.

Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if that were actually the case? Brandon Taylor drilled a three to score Penn State’s opening points of the second half, only to watch Maryland respond with a 7-0 run, making it 42-37 three minutes in. Sloppy play offensively by Penn State allowed the Terps to open fire, making it rain from downtown as they extended the lead to 13 at the 14-minute mark. Penn State regained its composure after a TV timeout, driving to the lane and hitting jump shots to crawl right back into this game.

The Bryce Jordan Center woke up in a big way midway through the second half, as Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor–who pulled up from the parking lot– nailed two momentum-swingng three pointers, respectively, knotting this one up at 60 apiece. The Nittany Lions regained the lead after Thorpe dished to Travis down low for the go-ahead slam, only to find the game tied again after a pair of Dez Wells free throws.

The two teams continued to battle, leading to the game’s defining moment; with 1:50 to go in regulation, Jordan Dickerson and Evan Smotrycz get tied up on the wing, leading to Smotrycz dragging Dickerson down from behind. Now, mind you, Smotrycz dragged Dickerson down clear as day, yet somehow, the refs managed to call Dickerson for the foul.

Newbill would cough up the ball on the ensuing possession, only to make it 74-73, getting the Nittany Lions right back into the game. His desperation heave at the end of regulation after a pair of free throws by Melo Trimble hit off the iron and behind the basket, sending fans home dejected–something these fans are used to by now.

Player Of The Game 

For his hustle, heart, and sheer willingness to win last night, I’ll give the honor to Geno Thorpe. Thorpe was all over the court, putting up 17 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal in the losing effort. He chipped in big time from beyond the arc, hitting 2-of-3, while constantly hustling and getting his hands dirty, all for the sake of the team. Great stuff from the young guard.

Tweet Of The Game 

Pat Chambers just doing what Pat Chambers does best: speaking the honest truth. The call on Dickerson was astonishingly horrible, and came during the game’s most crucial moment. Chambers held nothing back when speaking about the officiating after the game, and rightly so. That call swung the momentum to Maryland, hindering Penn State’s late upset bid.

Game Notes 

With the loss, Penn State drops to 15-11 on the season, and a ghastly 3-10 in conference play. No. 19 Maryland on the other hand improves to 21-5 on the year and 9-4 in the Big Ten, where the Terps sit in second place behind No. 5 Wisconsin.

What’s Next? 


The Nittany Lions will take on Wisconsin at the Bryce Jordan Center on Feb. 18, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected].

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