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Penn State Hoops Falls 67-65 To No. 5 Purdue In Big Ten Tournament Championship

Penn State men’s basketball (22-13, 13-11 Big Ten) couldn’t pull off a late-game comeback against No. 5 Purdue (28-5, 17-5 Big Ten) in a 67-65 loss in the Big Ten Tournament Championship on Sunday at the United Center.

Exhaustion was a factor in the Nittany Lions’ fourth game in as many days. Jalen Pickett was held to just 11 points in contrast to Zach Edey’s 30 points and 38 rebounds. Seth Lundy led the Nittany Lions in points with 19 in the team’s final game of its conference slate.

How It Happened

Head coach Micah Shrewsberry rolled out his go-to lineup featuring Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, Camren Wynter, Andrew Funk, and Kebba Njie.

Zach Edey took care of the opening tip to get things started in Chicago. Purdue couldn’t make anything happen in its opening possession and allowed Jalen Pickett to work some magic and post a jumper to start the scoring.

Wynter added another jump shot in the paint and created a 4-0 lead before Edey posted Purdue’s first points. The Boilermakers released an airball from distance, then Brandon Newman cleaned up the attempt and registered a jump shot to knot the Nittany Lions at four through just over five minutes of play.

Purdue tacked on back-to-back conversions from Edey and David Jenkins to create its first lead of the game at the 15-minute mark. Funk broke Penn State’s four-minute scoring drought with a layup by way of Pickett, but Edey converted a hook shot and dunk to lead by seven. The Nittany Lions hadn’t given up a lead greater than six throughout the Big Ten Tournament until then.

A traveling call on Jenkins led both teams into the media timeout. Penn State trailed Purdue 13-6 midway through the opening half and demonstrated cold shooting at 25% .

Out of the break, Wynter and Myles Dread added nine points from downtown to cut Purdue’s lead to two points. Clary and Pickett missed their triple attempt and gifted the Boilermakers a handful of empty possessions to rebuild their lead. Jenkins and Fletcher Loyer drained three-pointers to jump back out to a 25-16 lead at the under-eight media timeout.

Ethan Morton was whistled for a shooting foul on Wynter from beyond the arc, so the Drexel transfer headed to the line and sank all three. Edey then sank a second-chance layup off his own offensive rebound, but it was overshadowed by a wide-open Njie dunk.

A questionable shooting foul on Pickett granted Edey two shots, and the 7’4″ center knocked down one. In the following play, Pickett swished a shotclock-beating jumper to pull the Nittany Lions within two possessions.

The Boilermakers opted for a timeout with nine seconds remaining in the first half, but Purdue couldn’t notch a final bucket and headed into the locker room leading Penn State 35-27.

Mason Gillis opened the second half with a wide-open three-pointer, followed by two free throw conversions from Lundy. Edey continued to dominate offensive boards out of the break and force the Nittany Lions to work overtime on defense.

Lundy added two more points from the stripe and Wynter took care of a triple to complete a 7-0 run for the Nittany Lions to trail by four. Penn State began to find its shot confidence around five minutes into he second half as Lundy nailed another jumper for two.

Caleb Furst lit up the United Center crowd by converting a fastbreak layup off of a Njie turnover. Edey knocked down another two free throws from a Mikey Henn foul to extend Purdue’s lead to 49-38 at the 11:31 mark.

The Nittany Lions fell into a five-minute scoring drought midway through the half and couldn’t capitalize at the basket while Edey was on the bench. Lundy ended the drought with a triple, but the Boilermakers had already created a healthy lead by that point.

In an unusual manner, the typical three-point machine Funk notched his third bucket from the paint to cut Purdue’s lead to 12. Lundy dumped a swishing three into the bucket after four-straight points by Purdue.

Pickett and Funk added a few points to lead the Nittany Lions to a 8-0 run over 1:32 and were more than happy to slow down the clock.

Lundy egged on another few points to extend it to 13-2, but fouled out with 2:47 remaining in the second half. Evan Mahaffey then slammed down a graceful dunk to create a two-possession game and continued to hold Purdue to a four-minute scoring drought.

Dread drilled a three-pointer and Purdue aimed to move the ball up the floor quickly after, but Mahaffey manufactured a steal to set up Wynter for a layup to make it a one-point game inside the final minute.

Fletcher added one-of-two free throws to pick up a two-point lead and the Nittany Lions immediately called a timeout to pull a game plan together.

Purdue added another timeout following Penn State’s before kicking off the final three seconds of play.

Pickett inbounded to Dread and the captain laid the ball off to Wynter. It was a largely fumbled ball and Wynter couldn’t turn around and was called for a travel.

Purdue ran out the remaining 0.6 seconds and walked away with a 67-65 win and the Big Ten Tournament Championship.

Takeaways:

  • Zach Edey is just impossible to guard. He doesn’t even have to jump for rebounds…The junior powered his way 30 points and 38 boards throughout the course of the championship matchup. On the bright side, it’s exciting to think about where Kebba Njie could end up in a couple of years of bulking and collegiate play. Time will tell.
  • The matchup told the story of Penn State’s previous two outings against Purdue: 17 and 13-point losses. The Boilermakers took care of Jalen Pickett in the paint and locked down the perimeter, disallowing Andrew Funk and Myles Dread to find enough open looks to get hot. The Nittany Lions shot 43% from the field and 30% from distance in the low-scoring outing for Micah Shrewsberry’s crew.
  • Regardless of the outcome of today’s game, this was a phenomenal finish for Penn State’s conference slate. Now, let’s dance.

What’s Next?

That’s the end of an incredible conference season for Penn State. For now, the Nittany Lions will await their seeding placement in the NCAA Tournament later today. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is slated for 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 12, on CBS.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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