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Penn State Hoops Drops Heartbreaker To Virginia Tech 61-59

Penn State men’s basketball (4-1) could not complete the comeback against Virginia Tech (5-0), losing 61-59. Andrew Funk led the way with 21 points, while Myles Dread added 15 points off of five threes.

Jalen Pickett didn’t have his best game of the season, only scoring nine points. However, he also led the team with eight assists and added seven rebounds as well.

The Nittany Lions proved their resiliency today despite the loss. At one point, they were down by 17 points, but they narrowed that lead down to two-to-three points for the last five minutes of the game.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions got off to an abysmal start to the game, turning the ball over three times before the first media timeout. They couldn’t hit a three-pointer at all and were completely out of sync.

Andrew Funk scored the first two baskets for Penn State, followed by Kebba Njie, but it seemed as if the team couldn’t find a groove from behind the arc. Virginia Tech also bullied the Nittany Lions in the paint, and they had zero answers for them. Caleb Dorsey got the start and was outmatched from the jump. Funk and Myles Dread were then asked to guard some of the forwards, and that didn’t work out either. Lundy was the best answer, and even he got beat sometimes.

The shots continued to fall for the Hokies, and they would not fall for Penn State. It went on a five-minute scoring drought before Dread hit a three. After a much-needed timeout, Dread and Funk hit back-to-back threes, and suddenly this team had some life. Virginia Tech was still able to control the pace of the game, and they still exposed Penn State’s weakness in the paint.

Funk became the Nittany Lions’ savior in the first half, scoring 13 of the team’s 29 first-half points. That said, they were able to slowly inch their way back into the game, only trailing 57-29 at the half.

Dread got the scoring started for the Nittany Lions in the second half, but the Hokies kept their foot on the pedal and extended the lead. Jalen Pickett and Evan Mahaffey were able to sink contested layups to cut into the lead, however.

The defense continuously improved, as well. Virginia Tech went on a six-minute stretch where it did not make a field goal. That gave Penn State the opportunity to slowly build its way back into the game, which it was able to do thanks to threes from Pickett, Funk, and Dread.

Lundy knocked down a layup, followed by Pickett’s wide-open three, and suddenly all of the momentum was in Penn State’s favor. Mahaffey was the x-factor throughout the second-half run. He made himself known in the paint, and his athleticism made up for the height difference between the Hokies and Penn State. However, Virginia Tech was still able to get good looks in the paint and hit key shots to keep its lead.

The momentum was not enough to keep Penn State alive. Despite miraculous shots from Dread and Funk, there were just too many missed opportunities throughout the second half. Virginia Tech held on to win 61-59.

Takeaways

  • This game will be what Big Ten teams look at to see how to beat Penn State. It had no answers for Justyn Mutts and the rest of the Virginia Tech bigs. The Hokies consistently went into the paint and targeted the Nittany Lions’ biggest weakness, scoring 40 points in the paint. It didn’t help that they could not make threes to begin the game, which allowed the Hokies to establish their pace. It is something that Penn State must adjust to if it wants to be competitive in big games.
  • Despite the outcome of the game, this team has proven that anyone can step up. Andrew Funk was the offensive leader in the first half, especially as Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett couldn’t buy a basket. Myles Dread led the way in the second half, showing that this team does have versatility when the shots go in.
  • Let’s give Evan Mahaffey some love! The freshman came off the bench and immediately had an impact on the game. His versatility gave the Nittany Lions some much-needed help in the paint, and it kept them in the game. He finished with four points and five rebounds, which probably gave him a good opportunity to carve out a spot in the rotation.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will wrap up the Charleston Classic against the loser of the Colorado State-Charleston game. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 20, and air on ESPNU.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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