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Penn State Falls to No. 23 Ohio State on Senior Night, 77-67

Penn State’s last time on the Bryce Jordan Center floor this season came to a bittersweet end on Senior Night.

The Nittany Lions (15-15, 3-14 Big Ten) fell to No. 23 Ohio State (21-8, 10-6 Big Ten) in their final home game of the season, 77-67. D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis were honored prior to the game on Senior Night and led the way for the Nittany Lions with 17 and 14 points respectively. Travis scored 12 of his points in a first half where Penn State mostly controlled the tempo, but the hot hand of Ohio State standout D’Angelo Russell changed the game in the second half.

The freshman finished with 26 points, going 5-of-8 from three-point territory and ignited a long scoring run midway through the second half to keep the Ohio State lead at a comfortable distance in the closing minutes.

How It Happened

With a surprisingly energetic Bryce Jordan Center crowd behind them, Penn State got off to a competitive start. Travis was active in the early-going with a jumper and a two-handed baseline slam in the two minutes of the game.

Ohio State got out to an early 15-8 lead, when D.J. Newbill stroked a jumper from the wing and got to the line for a pair of free throws to cut the Buckeye lead. On the next possession a controversial moving screen was called on Newbill as Travis had an open path to the basket on a fastbreak, threatening to shift the momentum, but the Lions responded accordingly. Travis got out in transition again, this time with another slam, and then found Jordan Dickerson inside for a bucket. On the next offensive trip, a corner three from Brandon Taylor gave the Lions a 19-17 lead at the 8:08 mark.

Penn State put its foot to the gas for the next five minutes as its lead expanded to nine points. However, in the final three minutes the offense stalled as the Buckeyes closed on a 9-1 run. The Lions escaped the half with a 30-29 lead.

Penn State wasted no time getting the momentum back in the second half, scoring unanswered on its first four possessions. Ohio State worked its way back to get the game to a three point margin, when Geno Thorpe fouled D’Angelo Russell sending him to the line.

Russell, the Big Ten’s second leading scorer behind Newbill (19.4 points per game) and a projected lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, was showered with “overrated” chants from the Bryce Jordan Center crowd every time he stepped to the line throughout the first half and into the second. At the 15:50 mark, those Penn State fans awoke a sleeping monster.

Russell nailed both of his free throws and followed them up with three straight three-pointers on the Buckeyes following possessions. Following the flurry, his floor game kicked in as he set up several opponents heading to the basket for free throw opportunities.

When Russell caught fire the Lions ran out of answers. They were slow in their rotations and as a result piled up fouls. On the other end they couldn’t get the lid off the rim, going on a five minute scoring drought until Newbill scored on a layup to cut the Buckeye lead to 12.

Ohio State pushed its lead out to as many as 17 points in the latter minutes of the half.

Player of the Game

Russell blacked out in the second half to finish with a game high of 28 points. He also added six rebounds, three assists and countless other passes that led to free throw opportunities for his teammates in the other half.

Stat of the Game

After shooting 1-for-8 in the first half (12.5 percent), the Buckeyes were ignited by Russell’s hot hand in the second 5-for-9 (55.6 percent). Conversely, Penn State shot 3-for-17 for the game (13.7 percent).

Quote of the Game 

Patrick Chambers on where D.J. Newbill stands all-time in Penn State history: “He’s got to be top five. The only thing that might prevent him is wins, you feel for him. Guy took a chance on us and he’s done his job and I need to do mine. I need to do a better job of helping him out in these last couple games here to make sure he finishes strong.”

Game Notes

  • D.J. Newbill scored 2,000 points for his career at the 11:37 mark of the first half with a pair of free throws. Newbill is only the second 2,000 point scorer in Penn State history (Talor Battle).
  • Along with Newbill and Travis, seniors Kevin Montminy and Alan Wisniewski were also honored prior to the game. All four seniors received the start and finished the game on the floor for Penn State.

 What’s Next?

Penn State closes out its regular season on the road against Minnesota  (17-12, 6-10). The Lions will open the Big Ten Tournament next week.

Photo: Alex Bauer/OS

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