Baby we can talk all night, but that ain’t getting us nowhere. Penn State had the ball at the end of the game, down 2 points, and got a high-percentage shot by Myreon Jones. The ball did not go in the hoop. Sometimes the game is that simple.
The two-game win streak came to an end with a very nice effort in Columbus that saw Jim Ferry’s team fall just short of a third-straight win. There were times early in the game that Ohio State could have gone ahead more than a dozen points and put the Lions in jeopardy of losing in a blowout.
Instead Penn State, led by point guard Jamari Wheeler, continued to fight to the bitter end. After trailing by double-digits in the first half, the Lions cut the lead to 4 just before halftime on some incredible play by Wheeler. Ohio State had the ball, up by 8, with 25 seconds to play.
It could have been a lead of 8 or more for Ohio State. Two steals and two layups later, it was just a four point game heading to the break.
Wheeler missed two free throws late in the game and that hurt the team, there is no denying that. There is also no denying that the game would have been over early in the second half without Wheeler’s effort. He kept his team focused all night and returned from an injury to get to the free throw line for a chance cut into the lead late in the game.
Myles Dread hit a 3-pointer on the possession after the two missed free throws to give Penn State a 76-74 point lead with 2:57 to play. Seth Lundy hit a deep ball with 2:07 for a 79-77 advantage.
The Buckeyes scored the next six points as fate turned a cold shoulder on the blue and white, leaving some fans crying icicles instead of tears. It was a tough loss but only because the team played so hard from beginning to end. Facing a ranked team on the road, without the injured Sam Sessoms, was a tough ask.
After beating Rutgers and Northwestern, a third win would have been something akin to paradise by the dashboard light. The team wanted the win. They needed the win. But don’t be sad. No, don’t be sad, because two out of three ain’t bad.
If the team can find a way to win two of the next three, against Wisconsin (2) and then Maryland, it will be right back where it was prior to the loss to Ohio State: on the NCAA tournament bubble. Jim Ferry’s team will take them one at a time but fans will surely focus on the big-picture. The Lions are a talented team, every reasonable person can see that.
The question is whether it will translate to wins. We’ll see as the season unfolds. Getting Myles Dread back from injury was critical to the team being able to compete with Ohio State. Not only did Dread hit 2 of 4 from 3-point range, he played low-post defense for most of the 24 minutes that he was on the court.
Trent Buttrick did not fill out the score sheet but he played 14 minutes against the Buckeye front-court that was touted as being superior to Penn State’s group. It was Ohio State that had foul trouble toward the end of the game, not the under-sized Lions, and Buttrick had a lot to do with making that possible.
He also got a steal that led to Penn State’s first lead of the game in the second half. Watch as Buttrick (15) defends all over the court before grabbing the ball.
The contest was a toss-up from the time Buttrick stole the ball with 16 minutes to play in the second half until the final seconds of the game. It would have been nice to watch the Nittany Lions finish off a road win against a ranked team, but the fight they gave should not be ignored.
Seth Lundy played 38 big minutes and it’s easy to forget that he is playing out of position on defense, typically facing the opposing team’s power forward. Not only did Lundy hit a bunch of 3-point shots, he drew fouls on Ohio State’s big men. The Buckeyes had 2 post players foul out and another with 4 fouls.
Coach Ferry has not gone deep into the bench, instead relying on extra minutes from the usual players. We’ll see if that continues as the season goes on. There are some talented players on the bench ready to contribute but it would be incredibly difficult to make an appearance at this point in Big Ten competition, with so little experience.
I’m Not Dramatic, You’re Dramatic!
To call the performance that Myles Dread put out there ‘courageous’ might seem a little dramatic when considering all forms of courage that exist in the world, but within the confines of college basketball, it is fitting.
Dread missed two games with a shoulder injury that he incurred while guarding 7-footer Kofi Cockburn. He played low-post defense for most of the night while wearing a support on his injured shoulder. With just 4 shot attempts during 24 minutes of time on the floor, he was a defensive specialist until the team needed him to hit a shot.
Facing a 6-0 Buckeye run, Dread hit a deep ball to regain the lead. First he set two screens, for Myreon Jones and then Seth Lundy, then he popped out for the shot.
The 6-foot-4 power forward, who also can hit a 3-point shot if you need one, came through when called upon. Had Dread not been able to suit up there is little chance that Jim Ferry could have found a combination of players that would have kept the game close into the final minute.