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Penn State Hoops Falls 59-58 In Heartbreaker Against Rutgers

Penn State men’s basketball (12-16, 7-13 Big Ten) fell to Rutgers (18-12, 12-8 Big Ten) 59-58 on Sunday to wrap up a disappointing regular-season schedule.

John Harrar led the way for the Nittany Lions with 15 points and 17 rebounds, recording yet another double-double. Seth Lundy led Penn State with 20 points, but his efforts weren’t enough to take down the Scarlet Knights on their Senior Day.

How It Happened

Two minutes into the game, Lundy hit a big three to give the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead and end a scoreless drought for both teams. Rutgers regained the lead with a three-pointer and an alley hoop finish on back-to-back processions from Dean Reiber.

Penn State could not seem to hit a bucket after Lundy’s three. This allowed for the Scarlet Knights to go out on a 15-2 run by the 12:46 mark, forcing head coach Micah Shrewsberry to call a timeout. Right out of the timeout, Sam Sessoms was able to hit a floater and cut the Rutgers lead to 15-7.

After a four-minute scoring drought, Lundy was able to get to the free throw line and hit all three of his shots. The Nittany Lions were able to make it a 18-12 game, but Rutgers caused two turnovers and set up dunks for Ron Harper Jr. and Caleb McConnell, giving the Scarlet Knights another 10-point lead.

Harrar was finally able to get going by grabbing five points in a row for the Nittany Lions, cutting the deficit to seven points.

Late in the first half, Rutgers had a scoring drought of its own, cutting the lead to six points This forced the Scarlet Knights to call a timeout with 2:20 left in the half.

Following a perfectly executed inbounds play and a dunk by Reiber, the Scarlet Knights were able to put up the last points of the half and go into the locker room with a 29-21 lead.

Rutgers opened up the second half with a 7-0 run on a two-point jumper from McConnell, a three-point shot from Harper, and a layup by Clifford Omoruyi, bringing its lead up to 15 points. Off of a Penn State timeout, Jalen Pickett was able to drive and hit a layup to end the scoring drought for the Nittany Lions.

Both teams continued to trade baskets, but heading into a media timeout, Rutgers held on to a 14-point lead with a chance for one more at the free-throw line. Penn State was able to cut that advantage down to 10 following a Myles Dread three, but Rutgers makes it back to a 13-point game after a three of its own.

Following yet another media timeout, Pickett was able to hit a three before Lundy made a layup off of an alley-oop from Sessoms, setting the Nittany Lions up with just an eight-point deficit.

A missed foul on a Lundy three-point attempt led to a shot clock violation for the Nittany Lions. On the next procession, Penn State was able to get those points back from Lundy on a wide-open three to make it a four-point game. Penn State was then able to tie the game at 55-55 following two free throws from Harrar and a floater from Lundy.

Moments later, Lundy got called for an offensive foul. Despite the frustration, he came back on the defensive side and blocked a shot to give the Nittany Lions the ball with under a minute to play.

On that possession, Sessoms was unable to hit a go-ahead elbow jumper, forcing the Nittany Lions to foul McConnell, who hit both free throws.

Penn State’s Greg Lee had the opportunity to hit the game-tying three, but he missed. After Geo Baker made one free throw shot for Rutgers, Sessoms came down for the Nittany Lions and hit a three-point shot that put his team down one point with just seconds to go.

Penn State received the ball with just seconds remaining, but without a timeout, the Nittany Lions were forced to chuck up an ill-fated three-pointer. Without a bucket, Penn State fell to Rutgers 59-58.

Takeaways

  • Penn State yet again played close with one of the better teams in the conference, but it couldn’t seem to find a way to win in the end. The Nittany Lions will get another shot at some Big Ten action when they head into the tournament next weekend.
  • If the Nittany Lions were able to shoot better in the start, they could’ve had a good chance to win this game. They shot at a terrible 32.1% rate from the field and 25% from three — two numbers they will need to improve if they want to do anything during the Big Ten Tournament.
  • Defense still seems to keep this team in games. Penn State is always able to make teams uncomfortable or at least slow ’em down. Rutgers stars were having trouble during stretches of the game due to Penn State’s energetic defense.

What’s Next?

Penn State will rest up and prepare for the Big Ten Tournament, which begins on Wednesday, March 9. We’ll know the Nittany Lions’ opponent and tip-off time soon.

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About the Author

Ethan Bell

Ethan is a freshman majoring in journalism at Penn State. He loves all things Pittsburgh sports and is the best league commissioner of all time in Fantasy Football. He is from Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and he swears that Fiori's in Pittsburgh is the best pizza in the world. If you want to get a hold of him, follow him on Twitter @EBell45 or email him at [email protected]

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