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Penn State Hoops Falls 82-81 To Georgia Tech In Madison Square Garden Overtime Thriller

Penn State men’s basketball (5-6, 1-1 Big Ten) fell to Georgia Tech (6-3, 1-0 ACC) 82-81 in an instant classic ruined by a phantom foul call in the final moments of overtime.

Massive guard play led the way for Penn State in the one-point loss to the Yellow Jackets. The trio of Kanye Clary, D’Marco Dunn, and Ace Baldwin Jr. combined for 58 points in the defeat. Puff Johnson also had 15 points mostly coming in the second half and overtime.

How It Happened

Mike Rhoades went with the same starting five that led to the upset win over Ohio State last Saturday. Qudus Wahab started the scoring, hitting two free throws from the line. Baldwin followed it up with a deep three to give the Nittany Lions a quick 5-0 lead.

The scoring kept flowing for Penn State as Clary turned defense into offense to get an easy layup in transition before hitting a triple on the next possession. The Nittany Lions led 12-9 at the first media timeout from New York.

Baldwin turned it over out of the timeout, looking for a cutting Nick Kern Jr. who entered the game. The Yellow Jackets tied it up at 12 with their second three of the day. Dunn drilled a three from behind the arc off the bench to retake the lead for the Nittany Lions.

Defensive rebounds started to show up as a problem once again for Penn State. Georgia Tech came up with second and third chances on the offensive end as Wahab was replaced by Demetrius Lilley.

Coming out of the second media timeout, the Nittany Lions held a slight 20-17 advantage. Rhoades went to a matchup zone for the first time and immediately Kern got a steal out of the new defense.

Tafara Gapare hit his second three of the game from the corner for the Yellow Jackets to tie it up at 22. Wahab muscled his way through a pair of Georgia Tech defenders to draw the foul before hitting both his shots from the charity stripe. Penn State led 24-22 with under nine minutes to play in the first half.

Baldwin chucked up a contested three that didn’t fall. The ball began to stick, and the Nittany Lions’ offense lacked consistent movement on back-to-back possessions before heading into the under-eight timeout only leading by a possession.

Georgia Tech turned second-chance opportunities into points once again. The sixth offensive rebound of the game for the Yellow Jackets led to a tie game in The Garden. Baldwin then took matters into his own hands and drove to the basket for two.

Puff Johnson missed back-to-back three-pointers from the same spot on the wing. Dunn passed up a three in transition for a layup, leading to a foul at the rim. Dunn knocked down one of two for a one-point Nittany Lions’ lead.

Gapare gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for the first time, making two from the line. With two more transition points from Georgia Tech, it led 33-29 with 2:16 to play. Dunn stopped the bleeding with a deep three, but the scoring kept flowing for the visitors.

In a horrible defensive possession, Penn State let up another offensive rebound, leading to a Gapare alley-oop dunk. Baldwin shifted the moment with a buzzer-beating three to inch the Nittany Lions to within two. Penn State went into the locker room trailing 39-37.

Nothing seemed to change out of the break, and Georgia Tech snagged two offensive rebounds on the very first possession. A couple of possessions later, Wahab met the Yellow Jackets at the rim to deny a dunk.

Clary stepped up with a big-time shot and foul to get the scoring started for Penn State. Baldwin then hit a wide-open three to give the Nittany Lions the lead once again, setting up a good second half from the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Back-to-back buckets from Georgia Tech helped the group regain the lead 48-47 at the under-16 timeout. Lilley came into the game after the break to replace Wahab, as foul trouble started to creep into the Penn State bench.

The Nittany Lions continued to have no answer for Gapare and the Georgia Tech shooting. He knocked down another three to make it a 53-47 ballgame before Rhoades called a timeout.

Lilley and Dunn fought for extra possessions on the offensive glass, and Dunn tipped it in for two points following the timeout. The problem continued to be on the other end of the court where Penn State had no answer for the Yellow Jackets’ attack.

Georgia Tech held its largest lead of the game at 57-49 following a 13-2 run. Johnson answered for the blue and white, swishing a three in front of his bench for his first points of the game.

Dunn turned it over with his foot on the sidelines when he got the pass from Johnson. It was only the fifth turnover of the game for the Nittany Lions but a costly one trailing by seven. Both teams traded missed dunks before a whistle finally blew to send Wahab to the line.

Trailing 63-54 with over nine minutes to play, Baldwin had to call a timeout on an inbound to avoid a five-second violation. Penn State returned to its matchup zone to try to stall the Yellow Jackets offense. It didn’t seem to work as Deebo Coleman hit another triple.

At the under-eight timeout, Georgia Tech stretched its lead to 66-59 behind hot shooting and continued presence on the boards. Rhoades changed up the defense, implementing the full-court press utilized throughout the season so far.

Johnson had a chance to cut the lead once again, but his three went in and out and the jump ball on the rebound went the way of Georgia Tech. Play stopped to clean up some blood on the court with the Yellow Jackets leading 69-61 with 5:08 to play.

After the long stoppage of play, Penn State got a much-needed stop, and Johnson dropped in a three on the other end to cut the deficit to five. The shooting didn’t stop there as Clary buried a triple, and all of a sudden, it was a four-point game in The Garden.

Dunn knocked down two from the line and stole the ball right back on the inbound. Penn State couldn’t convert on the next possession, and Georgia Tech held on to the 71-69 lead. Baldwin got his hand in the cookie jar to get the steal on the other end.

Dunn continued to take matters into his own hands and drove to the basket to get the foul. He made one to get his 17th point of the game. Baldwin then got a steal and dished it to Johnson and the Nittany Lions led 72-71. Georgia Tech tied it up at the line after a questionable foul on Wahab.

Baldwin missed the front end of the one-and-one with 34 seconds remaining. Georgia Tech called a timeout on the defensive rebound. On the inbound, the Nittany Lions’ pressure caused another Yellow Jacket timeout before a five-second violation.

Baldwin came up with the play of the game with an incredible steal with 13.5 seconds to play. On the floor, he called a timeout to give Penn State a chance to win it on the final shot. Baldwin air-balled a poor three-point attempt at the buzzer, and the game headed to overtime tied at 72.

Wahab won the tip and got the first possession of overtime for Penn State, and Baldwin missed a mid-range jumper. Back-to-back buckets for both teams kept the game knotted at 74. Johnson was caught reaching in and was called for his fourth foul. Kowacie Reeves Jr. made both from the line, and the Yellow Jackets led 76-74.

Johnson came up with a massive shot to give the Nittany Lions a 77-76 lead. Georgia Tech responded with a layup to retake the lead. A goaltending call on the Baldwin shot gave Penn State a one-point lead with under a minute remaining.

Reeves took it to Wahab on the other end and finished the basket for Georgia Tech. With 35 seconds to play, Rhoades called a timeout as the Yellow Jackets led 80-79. Clary got to his spot in the middle of the paint and finished the jumper with ease.

Penn State led 81-80 with 16.1 seconds remaining. Georgia Tech called another timeout to set up a play on the final possession. Going for a loose ball, Baldwin was called for a foul where there was no contact, which proved to be a huge break for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech knocked down both from the line to retake the line 82-81 after a questionable call from the officials.

Baldwin missed the buzzer-beating three to win, and the boos rained down in Madison Square Garden. Rhoades was furious with the officials after the game, following the last foul call on his Nittany Lions.

Takeaways

  • Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. It’s the same story on a different day, folks. At the break, the Nittany Lions were outrebounded 26-8, including nine Yellow Jacket offensive rebounds. Georgia Tech won the game because of second and third-chance opportunities. If Penn State can fix the problem on the glass, this team can go to much higher places.
  • Ace Baldwin Jr. is starting to find his place at Penn State. Following the comeback win over Ohio State, Baldwin had a great performance for the Nittany Lions in a close loss to the Yellow Jackets.
  • A great game was ruined in the final moments because of the officials. If that foul is not called, Penn State walks out of New York with a win. A terrible way to go out after a back-and-forth thriller.

What’s Next?

Penn State will return to the Bryce Jordan Center to host Le Moyne at 7 p.m. on December 21. The game will be broadcast on Peacock.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a sophomore from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and an associate editor at Onward State. He has the great privilege of living in central Pennsylvania...Which isn't so great. You can send all disagreements to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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