Penn State Hoops Drops Overtime Heartbreaker To Wisconsin 79-74
Penn State men’s basketball (14-10, 5-8 Big Ten) lost a tough 79-74 overtime battle against Wisconsin (14-9, 6-7 Big Ten). Jalen Pickett led the way with 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Seth Lundy added 14 points and nine rebounds to the box score.
Camren Wynter had a good game as well, scoring 15 points. Andrew Funk added 10 points, however, no other player broke a five-point ceiling.
How It Happened
Andrew Funk hit an open three to start the game. The Badgers hit a couple of shots to take an early lead, but Seth Lundy scored five-straight points to take the lead back. The momentum did not last long, as the Nittany Lions went on a five-minute scoring drought.
Kanye Clary broke the streak with a nifty close-up jumper, and Kebba Njie scored on a hook shot to bring some life back into the Penn State offense. Wisconsin went on a small run before Dallion Johnson scored to break that streak, and Camren Wynter followed up with a jumper of his own. It was the defense that was letting the team down, and the Badgers were easily cutting into the paint and tallying easy buckets.
It was a quiet first half for Jalen Pickett, but he hit a big shot to cut Wisconsin’s lead down to two for his first points of the game. While the Badgers did extend their lead, it was Wynter who kept the game close, in what had been his best game in a very long time. His eight points led the way for all scorers in the first half.
Turnovers were the story of the last three minutes of the first half. The Nittany Lions committed three turnovers that stalled out three consecutive possessions. It also didn’t help that Pickett was ice cold from the field, only making two field goals on eight attempts. His last field goal was a last-second putback buzzer beater to end the first half, which made the score 35-29 at the break.
The second half started with a bang as Funk got fouled on a three-point shot. He only made two free throws, but it was the start the Nittany Lions needed coming out of the half. Mikey Henn then hit his first three of the night, but Chucky Hepburn was on fire and kept the Badgers in front.
Anytime Penn State cut into Wisconsin’s lead, there was an immediate response by Wisconsin. It wasn’t until Myles Dread hit a three that the momentum began to shift. The Badgers turned the ball over and got into foul trouble, and the Nittany Lions took advantage.
Funk got to the line and made two free throws, and Clary made a freebie as well. Lundy made his first three of the half to cut the lead to three, but Wisconsin responded and kept the lead at five. Pickett sank a three, and the two teams kept trading blows.
Pickett and Dread scored back-to-back layups and suddenly the game was all tied up. A Badgers three by Connor Essegian quickly broke that tie though, and they went back up with five minutes left. Funk responded with a three, and the Bryce Jordan Center exploded.
The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the night since the opening minutes on a Lundy three, and the momentum shifted once again. Hepburn hit a three that gave the Badgers a one-point lead with three minutes left. Wynter tied it up again after making one-of-two free throws, and then he took the lead on a fadeaway floater.
The Badgers quickly tied it up, and the game went down to the wire. Hepburn hit another three, which gave Wisconsin the lead with 30 seconds left in the game. Lundy tied it up with a massive three with 23 seconds left in the game that sent the game into overtime tied up at 68.
Overtime began when Wisconsin scored four-straight points before Pickett scored on a crafty layup. The teams traded baskets back and forth, but the Badgers maintained their two-point lead. Wisconsin sunk a layup that pushed the lead to four. Wynter then had a wide-open look from behind the arc that rolled in-and-out and effectively ended the game. The Nittany Lions lost 79-74.
- Kebba Njie’s growth has been slow throughout this season, but fans can see that work paying off at the end of the season. He had his best defensive performance last game against Nebraska, and he is making strides on offense. It seems Njie has listened to criticisms surrounding scoring in the paint, and if he can keep building off today’s performance, he will become a more polished player.
- This was a winnable game for Penn State, and it ultimately ending as a loss is not a great look. Sure, the comeback to force overtime is admirable, but the game could have been won on multiple occasions. The missed shots and the poor execution on defense down the stretch made it impossible for the team to pull out the win, which would have gone a long way to extend the Nittany Lions’ chances of a postseason in March.
- Camren Wynter deserves some love for having one of his better games in recent memory. He has been struggling of late, so putting up 15 points is a big deal. If he can get more confident and find his stroke from the field, it will take a lot of pressure off Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy. Even though he missed a big shot at the end of the game, that doesn’t mean he had a bad day overall.
The Nittany Lions travel to College Park to take on Maryland on Saturday, February 11. The game will tip off at noon and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
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About the Author
Ryan Field was a sea of white in the Nittany Lions’ week five return to Illinois on Saturday.
Despite struggles with bye weeks in recent years, the Nittany Lions feel the time off this year can be beneficial.
Our writers and photographers drove out to Evanston, Illinois, to capture the sights and sounds of Penn State’s fifth win of the season.