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Penn State Basketball Loses Another Close One: Maryland 75, PSU 69

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The near-misses are starting to pile up for the young PSU squad.

NCAA Basketball: Rider at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State (11-5) had a chance to win but was unable to score late in the game. Maryland hit foul shots to hold onto the late lead. For the game, the Terps shot 34 foul shots to PSU’s 4.

Maryland’s leader and minutes played, Kevin Huerter, got two quick fouls and was forced to go to the bench with less than three minutes off the game clock. With the Terrapins already down two key players with injuries, the team needed to stay out of foul trouble. Instead the Lions came out attacking the defense, drawing three fouls in the first four minutes.

Lamar Stevens went to the bench with two fouls minutes later and Penn State went with two big men in his absence. Julian Moore joined Mike Watkins on the low-post and when Watkins went to the bench for a quick rest, freshman forward John Harrar entered the game. With 11:26 left in the first half the teams struggled to find offense, with Penn State leading 13-12.

The Lions then went on one of their patented extended scoring droughts, giving up nine consecutive points during a four-minute scoreless stretch, finding themselves in the hole 19-13 just before the 8-minute break.

Josh Reaves got the Lions going with this pass to Mike Watkins.

A few minutes later it was a 24-23 Maryland lead and the Penn State offense was back in the game. Tony Carr made the first three pointer of the game with two minutes left in the half. The teams opened with a combined 0-12 from behind the arc. Lamar Stevens added a basket on the next trip and PSU led 28-27 with a little over a minute before the half.

Carr hit another deep ball and Josh Reaves hit a three-pointer as time ran out, giving PSU a 34-30 advantage at the break.

Maryland opened the second half with a five-point run to take a one-point lead. Josh Reaves hit another three-pointer and Tony Carr added a long-ball and just like that PSU led 42-37.

Lamar Stevens picked up his third foul early in the second half and was forced to the bench. The Lions were able to maintain a solid scoring presence with Stevens on the bench, holding a 50-48 lead with 11:15 to play.

Stevens did not sit for long, returning to hit an elbow jumper to give the Lions a 60-56 advantage with 6:22 on the clock. Minutes later Maryland tied the game at 61 apiece with five minutes to play. Pat Chambers was forced to call a timeout with 3:59 to play to stem a 7-0 Maryland run, trailing 63-61.

The run got to 9-0 before Lamar Stevens hit a three-pointer to end it. Kevin Huerter answered with a hoop and foul shot to answer, and Maryland led 68-64 with 1:57 to play. With a minute to play the ball went out of bounds and was ruled Penn State’s ball. The referees went to the replay video and decided to reverse the call, giving it to Maryland with a 70-66 lead, changing the trajectory of the final seconds of the game. Penn State was forced to play for a stop on defense, but instead gave up a foul shot to trail by 5 with 30 seconds to play. Josh Reaves hit an off-balance three pointer to cut the lead to 71-69 with 22 seconds on the clock. Reaves was 3 of 4 from behind the arc on the day.

Maryland hit the requisite foul shots to hold on for the win.

PPP and Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 70 1.12 57.3 41.4 22.9 41.8
Maryland 0.90 46 26.3 21.5 9.7

A disparity of 34 to 4 in the foul shot department is not going to win very many games. The Lions only had 6 turnovers, which was helpful. PSU held a 20-13 advantage in assists.

Player of the Game

Mike Watkins- (17 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal) Watkins was a presence in the paint all night long. He gobbled up every loose ball in his vicinity while altering and blocking shots as well.

Random Observations

  • Penn State weathered a four-minute scoring drought in the first half. While it would be nice to see the team find a way to avoid such events, they were able to hang in there. In a sign of maturity, the team did not simply jack outside shots to get back into the swing. A mixture of drives and mid-range shots got the team back in the flow.
  • The Lions have the athleticism and speed needed to stay with teams like Maryland. With players like Nazeer Bostick and Jamari Wheeler coming off the bench, the team does not lack the ability to defend when its starters go to the bench. If the low-post substitute players can find a way to make productive contributions, the team could afford a rotation of ten players for the first time in the Pat Chambers era.
  • For the second game in a row, Chambers elected not to use the press. For a team that used the press to its advantage for most of the season, it’s a wonder why he has chosen this strategical change.

Up Next

The Lions host Northwestern on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FS1.