Penn State Can’t Pull The Upset, Falls To Ohio State 79-75 In The Big Ten Tournament
Behind 25 points from Shep Garner, Penn State (16-16, 7-11) did everything it could to create some madness, but its upset bid fell short as the Nittany Lions lost a tight one to Ohio State (20-12, 11-7) 79-75 in the Big Ten Tournament.
How It Happened
Penn State got off to a strong start offensively thanks to two long-range jumpers from Brandon Taylor, but it was the defense in the early going that jumpstarted the Nittany Lions. Josh Reaves played tight defense as always, while Donovon Jack stepped up in the interior, sparking a break and layup for Garner that gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game at 10-8.
Garner continued to attack the basket and found success a number of different ways, whether it was finding Jordan Dickerson for an easy slam, kicking it back out to Jack for a top of the key three, or finishing it himself with soft touch around the basket. On the break, Garner found Taylor who pulled up and drained a 3-pointer, giving Penn State a 25-18 lead off a 10-0 run.
But the Buckeyes fought back. Utilizing full-court pressure, Ohio State caused havoc on the Nittany Lions late in the half. And when the Buckeyes got the ball back, they often found themselves at the charity stripe, shooting 17 free throws through the first 20 minutes.
Marc Loving’s three gave Ohio State a 9-0 run of its own, putting a major dent in Penn State’s lead. Still — thanks to shooting an uncharacteristic 7-of-12 from behind the arc — the Nittany Lions took a 37-34 lead into halftime and had Penn Staters everywhere thinking “why not us?”
The beginning of the second half was not kind to the Nittany Lions. With Ohio State playing like it had something to prove, Penn State saw its lead quickly vanish. Loving hit two 3-pointers, igniting an 11-0 Buckeye stretch that caused Chambers to burn an early timeout as the Nittany Lions trailed 45-39.
Ohio State’s full-court pressure continued to give Penn State fits, but the Nittany Lions also went cold from deep, failing to hit a three until four minutes remained in the second half. Despite the shaky shooting, Penn State stayed within striking distance. Reaves attacked the basket and finished amongst the trees, while Garner followed with two free throws to pull Penn State within one.
The Buckeyes answered with a Kam Williams three, but Payton Banks came to life, responding with a three of his own. Garner made his way back to the free throw line, as the Nittany Lions retook the lead 67-66 with just under four minutes remaining and a date with No. 2 Michigan State on the line.
Unfortunately for Penn State, Garner and Jack both missed healthy looking 3-pointers, while Ohio State went on a 7-0 run to take a 73-67 lead. Any hope of a comeback was ended when Reaves missed a crucial layup off a turnover and Dickerson was called for a foul on the other end, sending Loving to the free throw line where he hit both to put the Buckeyes up 75-68 with under a minute remaining.
Garner made a deep three with five seconds left to pull the Nittany Lions to within three points, but it was too little too late as the Buckeyes knocked down their free throws and ended Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament after just one game.
Player Of The Game
Marc Loving | Junior | Forward
The Ohio State forward proved to be a tough matchup for Penn State, finishing with 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Loving did most of his damage from the free throw line, making 13-of-15 attempts.
Well, this could be it for the 2015-16 Nittany Lions. The NIT seems out of reach, and it remains to be seen if Penn State would accept a potential invite to the CBI.
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