clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Penn State 73, Notre Dame 63: Happy St. Patrick Chambers Day!

The Nittany Lions pull off the upset on the road at top-seeded Notre Dame and will await their opponent for the NIT quarterfinals.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Penn State
Since neither Getty nor USA Today bothers to send photographers out to NIT games, we’ll just leave you with this classic photo of Shep Garner’s excitement.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a late game rally to surge past Temple in a game where they struggled for the first 36 minutes, the last thing Penn State needed was to lose one of its key bench players who contributed to the victory. Sure enough, that’s precisely what happened when Nazeer Bostick was suspended for his marijuana possession arrest earlier this week. Without Nazeer and his 12 points against Temple available, in addition to Mike Watkins already being out, the Nittany Lions faced a very daunting road challenge against a Notre Dame team still feeling slighted by the NCAA Tournament selection committee and looking to prove they belonged. Fortunately, the Lions did not need to rely on bench scoring as much in this one.

Penn State opened the game with a tenacious defensive effort, forcing four turnovers in the first five minutes of the game and John Harrar stepping up with a pair of blocks. The Lions eventually started to catch fire towards the end of the quarter, as Shep Garner and Josh Reaves hit back-to-back three-pointers, followed by a steal and layup by Shep right before the first quarter buzzer to put PSU up 21-10.

The second quarter saw PSU hit a major scoring drought which lasted over five minutes, scoring only seven points the entire quarter. While the Irish didn’t exactly catch fire, they did hit a few more shots to cut the PSU lead down to as little as three points before Tony Carr ended the drought to give them a 28-23 halftime lead.

Notre Dame would twice get within three points of PSU in the third quarter, but thanks to some clutch free throw shooting from Carr, defensive play-making from Reaves, and three-point shooting from Shep (and Reaves), the Lions would bump their lead all the way up to 14 points, which they would take into the fourth quarter.

The Irish quickly cut the 14-point PSU lead in half within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but with the home crowd ready to explode following a PSU turnover, Reaves stole the ball and drew a foul, calmly sinking both free throws to put PSU back up by nine. Notre Dame would not come close again for the rest of the game, and the Lions would ultimately push their lead back up to 14 points before ending with a 73-63 wire-to-wire road upset over the No. 1 seed in their region.

It was an all-around superb team effort, as four Nittany Lions (Carr, Shep, Reaves, and Lamar Stevens) scored in double figures, while defensively the Irish were held to 38% shooting from the field and only made four of their 22 3-point attempts, while the Lions racked up five blocks and eight steals.

PPP and Four Factors

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 64 1.13 45.7% 36.8% 14.0% 43.1%
Notre Dame 0.98 41.7% 40.0% 18.6% 28.3%

Both teams shot around 38% for the game, but the difference-maker was PSU’s nine made 3-pointers (as opposed to just four for ND), as well as going 20-for-25 from the free throw line, compared to ND’s 13-for-17 effort. PSU also won the turnover battle, 12-9.

Players of the Game

In addition to Lamar Stevens’ 11 points and five rebounds, the trio of Carr-Reaves-Shep combined for all nine of PSU’s made 3-pointers and always seemed to come up with a clutch play to silence the crowd whenever Notre Dame threatened to claim the lead at various points during the game. For that, they are your co-players of the game.

Random Observations

  • Notre Dame’s senior star, Bonzie Colson, who was forced to go to the bench after re-injuring his foot in the fourth quarter, was inserted back into the game’s final 30 seconds to end his college career on the floor, despite having his foot wrapped in ice on the sidelines before that. It’s moments like that which make you appreciate sports.
  • How satisfying was it to see a Penn State team missing their best post player and key sixth man upset Notre Dame on the road on St. Patrick’s Day? More importantly, how satisfying is it to see this team not playing at full strength now only one win away from an NIT Final Four appearance? Heres’ to the good times continuing.

Up Next

Penn State will hit the road again this coming Tuesday to take on the winner between Oregon and Marquette, who will play each other tomorrow. Game time and channel TBD.