So this was not very fun to watch. Penn State got out to a 17-9 lead before going ice cold over the last 7+ minutes of the first half, missing five of eight free throws and 20 of 28 from the field. The second period was more of the same - the Nittany Lions finished the night at 29.8% shooting and paid the price. Siena wasn't much better, turning the ball over 16 times, but Rob Poole and Lavon Long were able to find enough shots down the stretch to keep the Nittany Lions out of reach. The game culminated with a layup from 5'9" Evan Hymes to put the Saints up for good with four seconds left, but of course there was enough time for a fitting ending as D.J. Newbill stepped on the sideline on the last meaningful possession.
Newbill led the way with 17 for PSU but his 5-18 performance from the floor was well below his usual 46% shooting. Tim Frazier's final game in Blue and White was a forgettable one: 5 points on 1-5 shooting with 3 assists and 2 rebounds. It stinks that Penn State's all-time assists leader didn't go out a winner like Jamelle Cornley before him, but Frazier's relative struggles this year don't diminish what was an incredible career at Penn State.
As for the future, Geno Thorpe showed again why there are high hopes for him next season. The freshman contributed five points and two steals in 22 minutes, but numbers won't show just how active he was on the defensive end. Graham Woodward have five points of his own, including a finish on a fast break that we haven't seen from him this season.
Four Factors Analysis
It was a tight one, which speaks to just how poorly Penn State shot the ball. They negated Siena's strength on the offensive glass by recovering a similar amount of their own missed shots, and got to the free throw line at a better rate than the Saints. Unfortunately, an uncharacteristic 12-22 effort from the stripe spelled doom on a night when the jumpers weren't falling.
Player of the Game
Newbill was the top scorer but I thought Brandon Taylor was the most effective player on the court for PSU. He played in the high post all night and looked comfortable in that role to the tune of 8 points and 8 boards. He also scored the game-tying bucket on a putback with ten seconds to go.
- Flipped off - John Johnson did not have a great night (1-8 FG), despite opening the game with a banked three from the top of the key. When he has it going he's a high-level scorer, and when he doesn't, this happens.
- Jacked up - Donovon Jack's offensive effectiveness has stagnated over the last few weeks but that didn't stop him from racking up four swats against a small-ish Siena frontline. He still finishes the year as Penn State's most efficient player (112.4 ORtg, per KenPom) but he'll benefit greatly from another offseason in the weight room.
- A needed end? - It's not that Penn State looked disinterested or unenthusiastic tonight - "drained" might be the more appropriate word. It's understandable considering they've been playing since August (remember the European trip?), so maybe an extended break could do some good for a team that should return four starters and eight of tonight's nine-man rotation.
Sorry, no more shootyhoopage until November. The #doworkPat movement will undoubtedly hop back on the recruiting trail very soon with an open scholarship to work with, and of course it wouldn't be a Penn State basketball offseason without some roster attrition (though there's no need for any carefrontations at the moment).
And if you're on twitter, you'll note the attrition isn't limited to the basketball team. Eric Gibson, the godfather of Penn State hoops blogging, has decided to hang 'em up (just for a little while, hopefully). Eric is the reason I'm here writing this and probably the reason you decided to check out BSD's hoops coverage in the first place - it goes without saying that he'll be greatly missed by all of us here and we wish him the best of luck in whatever he decides to do with his newfound free time (hopefully staying far away from Talor Battle). Thanks for everything, Eric.
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