Late Shep Garner Free Throw Helps Nittany Lions Sink Nebraska 56-55
Coming off two straight wins including an upset of No. 4 Iowa, Penn State men’s basketball (14-13, 5-9 Big Ten) hosted Nebraska Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Cornhuskers (14-14, 6-9 Big Ten) looked to rebound after back-to-back losses and take a step toward clinching a bye in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Those hopes were damaged as Shep Garner’s free throw with 7.2 seconds left gave Penn State the 56-55 victory.
How It Happened
Penn State’s defense was top rank early on. Hard-nosed play from Jordan Dickerson in the paint forced tough shots from the perimeter for the Cornhuskers and kept the scoring low in the early going. However, the game remained tight with the Nittany Lions struggling from distance.
When there was scoring in the first half, it came from the hot hands of Penn State’s Shep Garner and Nebraska’s Shavon Shields. The pair combined for 26 of the 48 first half points. Brandon Taylor also had his hand in the action, scoring 11 points during a rough, foul-ridden stretch of the half.
The Nittany Lions went into the half with the 28-20 lead over the Cornhuskers. Garner led the way with 12 points off five of eight shooting. Heading into the half, Penn State looked likely to continue its winning ways.
Penn State came right out of the locker room and made its presence known, knocking down shot after shot to break open the game. Every Nittany Lion on the floor played a part in the action as Penn State started to pull away early in the second half.
Nebraska was not willing to go away without a fight. Penn State’s offense was sputtering and the Cornhuskers started to find their groove from the field. Much like their last two wins in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lions needed to make every second count.
A pair of clutch three-pointers from Taylor and Garner eased the pressure. Play began to shift, as both teams picked up the pace in the game’s waning minutes.
Shavon Shields played a huge role in Nebraska’s resurgence, hitting multiple clutch shots down the stretch. The senior forward hoped his 25 points would be enough to keep the Cornhuskers competitive, bringing them within one possession of the Nittany Lions.
Nebraska got fouled in the final minute of play and tied the game after making both free-throws. Penn State had its opportunity to take the lead on the next possession. Garner drove to the basket and was fouled, sending him to the line with 7.2 seconds left. Garner hit the first, but missed the second, allowing Nebraska one last chance. The Cornhuskers couldn’t convert, falling to the Nittany Lions 56-55.
Player Of The Game
Shep Garner | Sophomore | Guard
Garner is the team’s big name, and he shined in the spotlight. The young star scored 22 points, including a huge free-throw on his team’s final possession to get a needed win against Nebraska.
The Nittany Lions will hope to keep the momentum rolling as they travel to East Lansing to challenge the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans. The game will tip-off at 12 p.m. and will air live on BTN.