It sure started out promising enough.
Playing superb defense, forcing six turnovers on DePaul’s opening nine possessions, and nailing their shots on the other end (including a pair of three-pointers from Josh Reaves), the Nittany Lions raced out to an 11-0 lead in the game’s first four minutes.
Eventually, DePaul realized that Mike Watkins wasn’t out there on the floor and took full advantage of Penn State in the paint, scoring at will. Led by the backcourt of Max Strus and Devin Gage who scored 21 and 14 points respectively, along with forward Femi Oloujobi coming off the bench to score 13, the Blue Demons grabbed the lead late in the first half and only relinquished it briefly a couple of times in the second half.
Meanwhile, Penn State struggled to generate much offense outside of jacking up three pointers or Lamar Stevens creating something on his own, while struggling to grab rebounds on the defensive end and getting caught flat-footed countless times in the paint.
Penn State would put together a furious rally though, trailing 68-58 with only 3:41 remaining and the game seeming to be out of reach, the Lions would go on a 10-0 run to tie the game with 19 seconds remaining. PSU would get a steal on DePaul’s final possession, but Rasir Bolton missed the contested layup, sending the game into overtime.
The OT period saw Penn State go scoreless until the final minute but with five seconds remaining and having possession of the ball underneath DePaul’s basket trailing 72-70, Myles Dread got open in the left corner and after pump-faking on a three-pointer, dribbled closer to the hoop, but air-balled a shot that would have sent the game to a second overtime. An opportunity to steal a win they probably didn’t deserve in the first place was indeed, squandered.
Four Factors Analysis
Statistically, the teams were pretty even on the night, as the Four Factors reflects. DePaul grabbing a few more offensive boards (13 to PSU’s 10) and trips to the free throw line (21 to PSU’s 16) were the difference-makers.
Players of The Game
What more is there to say about these three? Lamar and Josh are your veteran leaders of the squad but the two of them alone are not enough to carry this team. This is where folks like Myles come into the picture, but someone other than Myles needed to have a big night, and the one player who possibly could have done so (Rasir Bolton) went scoreless.
- Miss U, Mike - There is no doubt in my mind that PSU wins this game if Mike Watkins plays tonight. John Harrar and even Trent Buttrick to an extent, are serviceable post players, but neither of them is a shot-blocking force that can crash the boards, nor a threat in the paint on the offensive side of things. Hopefully, this team will still have something to play for by the time he is cleared to return.
- Growing Pains - After scoring 25 points against Jacksonville State the other night, Rasir Bolton went an abysmal 0-for-10 shooting the ball and committed four turnovers en route to being held scoreless. He also took some very ill-advised shots from deep (you know, the type that even playing in a pickup game, would draw you angry glares from your teammates). He will certainly bounce back from this performance, but it was a friendly reminder that Rasir is indeed, still a freshman
Penn State (2-1) gets the next several days off before heading to Mexico to face Wright State in the Cancun Challenge. Tip-off is this coming Tuesday (Nov. 20th) at 8:30 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.