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Penn State Hoops Falls Apart Against Rutgers 59-56

Penn State men’s basketball (17-12, 8-10 Big Ten) crumbled against Rutgers (18-11, 10-8) Sunday night at the Bryce Jordan Center by a score of 59-56.

Despite a strong first half start where the Nittany Lions held onto a 20-point lead, the Scarlet Knights battled their way back into the competition and walked away with a three-point victory.

Camren Wynter led the way for Penn State with 16 points and three assists. Jalen Pickett dropped 11 to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Derek Simpson led Rutgers with 16 with Cam Spencer and Caleb McConnell reached double figures with 13 and 12, respectively.

How It Happened

Both teams turned the ball over on their first possession, and it wasn’t until an Aundre Hyatt three-pointer at the 17:45 minute mark that the game saw its first points. Camren Wynter marched down the court and quickly responded with a jumper inside the arc.

Then, Clifford Omoruyi and Kebba Njie traded buckets in the paint before the first media timeout was called. The Scarlet Knights held onto a 5-4 lead in just the first five minutes of action.

Penn State jumped out to a 10-0 run following the timeout thanks to back-to-back three pointers from Wynter, and two jumpers from Jalen Pickett. Rutgers was forced to call a timeout and it was down by nine at the midway point of the first half.

Cam Spencer took the lid off the basket with a free throw line jumper after a seven-minute scoring drought for the Scarlet Knights. Then, Njie hit a floater in the paint which sparked a 9-0 run that was capped off with a wide-open slam from the freshman big. In just two minutes of play, Penn State extended its lead to 23-7.

Omoruyi came out of a Rutgers timeout with an easy flush inside the paint. A few possessions later, Kanye Clary swished a jumper in response. The second media timeout was called at the 7:46 mark, and Penn State held onto its 16-point lead.

After an Njie free throw, both teams went on a bit of a cold streak before Derek Simpson cashed in on a layup. Wynter, in return, hit a float of his own. Simpson then found Caleb McConnell for a three-pointer before the final media timeout was called with 3:32 left in the half.

Pickett drilled his first three-pointer coming out of the timeout. However, it was all Simpson to end the first half. The freshman guard scored seven unanswered points and cut Rutgers’ deficit to just 10 points at the end of the first half.

Penn State kicked off the second half on fire. It started with Wynter who drilled a three-pointer on the Nittany Lion’s first possession. On its second possession, the Bucknell transfer drove to the hoop and cashed in on an and-one attempt. On its third possession, Wynter found Funk wide open in the corner. Spencer nailed a jumper that halted a 9-0 run. Just a few moments later, Seth Lundy powered his way to the hoop and slammed one in for his first bucket of the game.

Rutgers was forced to call a timeout as it was down 42-23 in just the first three minutes of second-half action.

Spencer hit a corner three and Omoruyi secured one point from the charity stripe before the first media timeout of the second half was called.

The Scarlet Knights then embarked on a quick 5-0 run which brought them within 10 points, however, Pickett found Mikey Henn at the of the key for a three-pointer. Oskar Palmquist responded with one of his own, but it was Henn again who drilled another three-point ball. On Rutgers next possession, Spencer and Omoruyi completed the alley oop attempt. Spencer then sunk a step back which brought Rutgers within nine at the 11:34 mark.

In the next five minutes of action, both teams combined for just four field goals, but Penn State held onto an eight-point lead with 6:48 left in the game.

Rutgers continued to crawl its way back into the game with buckets coming from Simpson and McConnell that brought the Scarlet Knights within five with just under four minutes left of game action.

Rutgers continued its push and after a driving and-one lay up by Simpson, the Scarlet Knights held onto a one-point lead with 1:21 left in the contest.

After a few missed threes from Lundy, Omoruyi bullied his way in the paint for a bucket as Rutgers extended its lead to three with under a minute left. After a travel call on Pickett, Penn State was forced to foul and sent McConnell to the line.

McConnell missed his free throw which allowed Pickett to drive down the court and he called a timeout as the Nittany Lions remained down three with about 15 seconds left on the clock.

Penn State was unable to make use of its final possession as a result of fumbled threes from Dread, Pickett, and Lundy, and dropped a heartbreaker to Rutgers 59-56.

Takeaways:

  • Well, that sucked. Penn State was completely dominant in the first half and held Rutgers to just 21 points in the first half. However, the Scarlet Knights proved to be the better team as they shot 50 percent from the field and came back in the final seconds of the second half. It was just a complete breakdown for the Nittany Lions.
  • Penn State didn’t shoot the ball well today from deep at all. It was 4-for-13 in the first half, and 4-for-16 in the second half. Luckily its defense kept them it, but a poor night from Shrewsberry’s squad from distance made the difference.
  • If the bubble didn’t already burst before tonight, it definitely popped tonight. Another NIT tournament we go!

What’s Next?

Penn State will travel to Illinois to face No. 21 Northwestern on Wednesday, March 1 for its final away game of the regular season. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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