Penn State Hoops Falls In Big Ten Tournament To Wisconsin 75-74 Despite Heroic Comeback

Despite a 24-7 finish to the game, Penn State men’s basketball (11-14, 7-12 Big Ten) fell to Wisconsin (17-11, 10-10 Big Ten) 75-74 in the Big Ten Tournament second round on Thursday night.

Sam Sessoms carried the way for Penn State, scoring 18 points and leading the valiant comeback attempt, but his effort wasn’t enough in the game’s final seconds.

How It Happened

Substitutes got off to hot starts in the early going for both teams. Nine of Wisconsin’s first 12 points were scored by reserves, and the early spark for the Nittany Lions didn’t arrive until Sam Sessoms came off the bench.

Wisconsin led beginning of the first half, although nice takes from Sessoms and Seth Lundy gave Penn State some momentum.

The Nittany Lions took the lead 13-12, before a very unusual sequence occurred. The Nittany Lions got the stop off of a Nate Reuvers miss, and Jamari Wheeler capitalized on a made three. Reuvers compounded his misfortune with an off-ball foul, which meant Penn State got the ball back with the points.

Jim Ferry had a clear game-plan, and it was executed well in the first half. The Nittany Lions sped the Badgers up, and got good shots on the offensive end. Wisconsin shot just 26.2% in the first 12 minutes of play. In that time, Penn State assisted on eight of its 10 made field goals while shooting 52.6%.

Trent Buttrick capped off a 13-4 run with a deep three, extending Penn State’s lead to 24-16 with 7:37 remaining in the half.

Wisconsin steadily got back into the contest. The Badgers responded with a 9-0 run of their own to retake the lead at 32-28. Jamari Wheeler snapped the run with a beautiful euro-step to the rim.

The senior was quietly having the best night of anyone on the floor, as Wheeler dropped 10 points in the first half.

Regardless, Wisconsin won the second quarter of the game. After trailing by five with 4:56 left in the half, the Badgers came to life to the tune of an 18-3 run to lead 41-31 at halftime.

Badgers sharpshooting continued into the second half. Jim Ferry was forced to call timeout just three minutes in to the closing period after Wisconsin extended its lead to 49-33.

Aleem Ford capped off another huge run by hitting his first five threes of the night.

Penn State prepared its final stand with about eight minutes to go, down 68-50. John Harrar, Izaiah Brockington, and Sam Sessoms all hit shots for a 7-0 run, but the Badgers continued to hit threes.

Penn State hit out on a 15-2 streak with just two minutes of play to give the Nittany Lion faithful more hope.

The wheels began to come off for Wisconsin when D’Mitrik Trice fouled Sessoms on a Badger turnover. Sessoms hit both free throws to make it a one-possession game, 75-72.

In the ensuing Wisconsin possession, the referees went to the monitor to check on the loose ball following the missed shot. Following a lengthy review, Wisconsin retained the ball with 55.3 to go, but only three seconds on the shot clock.

Nate Reuvers traveled on the restart, giving the Nittany Lions the ball back down a bucket. Sessoms, with the hot hand, made it a one point game on a beautiful take.

The Nittany Lions got one last stop, and Sessoms had the ball to win the game. The junior drove, but the ball was poked loose and Brad Davison was able to call timeout on the way out of bounds.

Despite a brilliant comeback, Penn State fell just short, losing 75-74.


  • Wisconsin had the majority of the foul shots in the first half, and took advantage of the stat line, finishing the game 13-for-15. Penn State responded via rebounding, outmatching the Badgers 34-25.
  • Penn State lost this one in the most antagonizing way. The Nittany Lions made a living on second half comebacks in this season’s stretch run and were so close to doing so once again. Sessoms and the rest of the Nittany Lions deserve all the credit in the world for a strong end to the season.
  • The Nittany Lions ‘season comes to a close with this loss. Now, the tale turns to whether John Harrar, Jamari Wheeler, Trent Buttrick, Kyle McCloskey, and Taylor Nussbaum decide to return after a year that was tantalizingly close to something special.

What’s Next

With the loss, Penn State’s season is most likely over. However, the NIT Selection Show is on Sunday, which the Nittany Lions have an outside possibility of qualifying for.

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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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