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Penn State Hoops Falls To No. 24 Maryland 66-59 In Big Ten Opener

Penn State (4-3, 0-1 B1G) wasn’t able to capitalize on its strong first half showing, losing 66-59 to No. 24 Maryland (6-1, 1-0 B1G) in its Big Ten opener in College Park.

Josh Reaves was held scoreless in the second half after scoring 17 points in the opening frame, and the Terrapins’ 18-for-25 performance from the free throw line proved too much for the Blue and White to overcome.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions trailed early, falling behind 12-3 during the first seven minutes of play. Reaves came to play on Saturday evening, scoring 13 of Penn State’s first 15 points thanks to three early 3-pointers. A dunk by the senior guard capped off a 10-0 run to give the visitors their first lead of the game at 13-12.

The teams traded buckets until a 12-3 run by Penn State gave Pat Chambers’ team a 29-21 advantage, its largest lead of the night. Maryland answered with a 9-2 spurt to close the deficit to a single point at the half, but the 17-point outburst by Reaves and a 10-spot from the usual suspect, Lamar Stevens, had Penn State leading on the road at intermission.

A cold start by Penn State in the second half saw the Terrapins reel off another 9-2 run, taking a 39-33 lead just two minutes into the period. A tough finish at the rim and a dunk — both by Stevens — brought the gap to 41-37, but Maryland couldn’t miss. The 24th-ranked Terps made eight of their first 10 shots in the second half, while Penn State made only four of its 10 shots, as Maryland pushed took a 47-39 lead following a Jalen Smith jam.

Then, the Nittany Lions were sparked by their role players. Rasir Bolton drained a mid-range jumper, and two consecutive offensive rebounds by John Harrar turned into layups by the sophomore forward. A deep trey from Bolton fell, and suddenly Penn State led 48-47 with 10:30 left to play.

Bolton scored another layup, but Maryland countered with seven points to re-gain the advantage at the under-8 timeout. A triple from Stevens trimmed the score to 54-53 Maryland, but Darryl Morsell drove to the rack and scored to put the Terps back up by three with six minutes remaining.

A Bruno Fernando alley-oop served up by Morsell put the pressure on the Nittany Lions, but six straight missed shots kept Penn State at bay as Chambers called a timeout, trailing by five, with 3:08 left in the game. Baskets by Stevens and Myles Dread were exchanged with a 3-pointer by Cowan out of the timeout. Bolton drove to the rim and earned a foul, and was able to make both free throws to cut the gap to 61-59 with 1:03 remaining.

A great defensive possession by Penn State was nullified by a 30-foot dagger by Cowan at the end of the shot clock, despite a good close-out by the 6-foot-9 big man, Harrar. The Nittany Lions called another timeout, down by five, with 33.9 seconds left, but Reaves missed a long shot. Maryland made two free throws in the closing seconds to take a 66-59 win.

Player Of The Game

Rasir Bolton | Freshman | Guard

The young guard has struggled with inconsistency shooting and ball control issues over the last few games, but it was Bolton’s performance in the second half that kept Penn State in this game. Bolton scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, and shot 5-for-7 from the field in addition to making all four of his free throws. In comparison, Reaves and Stevens went a combined 4-for-16 from the field after halftime.

What’s Next?

Penn State will return home to the BJC to take on Indiana in its home conference opener on Tuesday, December 5, at 7 p.m. You can watch the game on BTN.

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About the Author

Mitch Stewart

Mitch is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism from Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his role with Onward State, Mitch talks about all the #sprots on Penn State's CommRadio. To contact Mitch, feel free to send him an e-mail at [email protected], and if you really don't value your social media accounts, follow him as he yells on Twitter about Penn State basketball @mitchystew.

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