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Penn State Falls To Colorado 71-70 In First Game Of Vegas Classic

Penn State entered its matchup against one-loss Colorado with high hopes, knowing that a victory against the Buffaloes would give the program the type of statement win it needed. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case, as sloppy play and constant fouling gave Colorado the advantage, preventing Pat Chambers’ unit from securing a Power Five win. Shep Garner let loose Tuesday night, firing off 20 total shots only to see seven of which fall through. His 26 point output wouldn’t be enough, and forces the Lions to go back to the drawing board during their trip out west.

How It Happened

The Lions were keyed in early on defense, highlighted by a steal from Payton Banks that helped put Penn State ahead 6-4. Senior Brandon Taylor struggled to get his shots to fall, meaning freshman Josh Reaves had to shoulder the load for a majority of the first half. A layup from Taylor came around the eight minute mark to extend Penn State’s lead to four, but Colorado was able to tie the game up coming out of an official TV timeout.

Back-to-back three pointers from Deividas Zemgulis and Garner put Penn State back on top 21-17, holding on until the two minute mark where a Thomas Akyazili free throw broke the tie and knotted the game up at 23 apiece. Banks’ ensuing layup was answered by a pair of free throws, and the first half ended with a 25-25 tie.

Brandon Taylor briefly emerged from his shell to crack open the second half with a three pointer followed by another deep ball off a Jordan Dickerson block to put Penn State ahead 34-31. Seconds later, Taylor drew a technical foul, but the Buffaloes were unable to capitalize.

With less than 10 minutes to play, Colorado upped the intensity with a string of free throws that came as a result of sloppy fouling on the part of Penn State. A three pointer by Josh Fortune gave Colorado a 50-46 lead, an advantage the Nittany Lions would be unable to overcome.

Colorado began to pull away, but an eight point run in the game’s final minute helped the Lions nearly erase the deficit. Payton Banks was called for the foul with under eight seconds remaining, allowing Colorado to gain a four point advantage. Garner did what he could in the waning seconds, drilling a three with two seconds remaining to no avail. Colorado was able to hang on, winning by a score of 71-70. Freshman Josh Reaves helped keep the Lions competitive with 10 points, one steal, one rebound, and one assist to complement Banks’ 14 point effort.

Player Of The Game

Though his last-second three pointer couldn’t get the Lions over the hump, Shep Garner was Penn State’s top performer on Tuesday night. His 26 points came with two rebounds and two assists, and though his shooting frequency increased, he once again finished with over 20 points. Garner knew he’d be counted on as a leader in 2015-16, and his body of work thus far is reflective of that trait.

What’s Next?

Next up for Penn State in the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic is a matchup against Kent State. The two teams will tip off tonight at 8 p.m. at the Orleans Arena.

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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