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Mistakes Against Seton Hall A Warning Sign For Penn State Hoops

Penn State men’s basketball played its best of the season in Sunday’s first half. Then, the team collapsed in a form reminiscent of recent years, eventually falling in overtime to Seton Hall.

Despite leading by as many as 19 points, the Nittany Lions let their lead slip away in the second half. Guided by another impressive offensive outing by Seth Lundy, Penn State had many chances to put the game away. However, the team began to fall apart defensively in a style much to familiar for fans.

“We played very unselfishly early, then I thought some selfish basketball and stopped defending to the level that we did,” head coach Jim Ferry said.

The team knows that getting early-season wins is necessary because the schedule will only get harder. Sitting at 2-1, the Nittany Lions will play a ranked Virginia Tech team before Big Ten play begins. With a gauntlet of a schedule on the horizon, Penn State can’t afford to give away big leads.

The worst part of Sunday’s defeat, according to Ferry, was the final minutes of regulation. Penn State saw an eight-point lead evaporate in the final two minutes en route to overtime.

“For as poorly as we played defensively, we were still up eight with two minutes to go,” Ferry said. “That’s a game you have to win. We should have won that game in regulation, but you have to give credit to Seton Hall. They stayed aggressive and got us in foul trouble.”

Penn State was able to open up the game in the first half by stifling the Pirates’ big men. While the Nittany Lions are undersized, Seton Hall boasts one of the biggest lineups in the Big East, and that showed in the second half.

Sandro Mamukelashvili scored a career-high 30 points, many of which came towards the end of the contest. The Georgian’s increased involvement in the second half got Penn State’s big men into foul trouble, with Trent Buttrick eventually fouling out.

The mixture of foul trouble and a lack of defensive sharpness wasn’t helped by the 15 turnovers from Ferry’s team.

“Our goal is usually 10 [turnovers] or less, and if we had that, we would have won this game,” Ferry said.

Unforced errors can’t happen in the coming months, especially when the Nittany Lions will play the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State on a weekly basis. For now, Ferry and his team will push on to their final out-of-conference opponent, No. 15 Virginia Tech.

“It’s on all of us. We got to keep getting better, learn from this, and put games away especially when you’re up eight with two minutes to go,” Ferry said. “We were trying to do a little too much. They had great length. It looked like you had a lane to drive, but you took that extra dribble and they got their hand in there.”

If there is a silver lining in Sunday’s thriller, it’s that Penn State should have no trouble on the offensive end. Lundy scored more than 20 points for the second straight game, and four players scored double digits. If they can reduce the number of mistakes, the Nittany Lions will remain among the Big Ten’s best teams.

“We have to learn from it,” Ferry said. “You see how dynamic we can be as a team when we play the right way, and then when we don’t you can see what happens as well.”

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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