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Penn State 66, Maryland 61: Lions Sprint To The Finish Line

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Penn State couldn’t find an offense early, but did when it mattered.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start this off on a personal note. When it comes to Rutgers and Maryland, I’m one of the few who bucks the trend when speaking about rivalry potential. I embraced both the Terrapins and Scarlet knights immediately, as they’re both teams that have a ton of history with the Nittany Lions. While Rutgers has a way to go still, having yet to beat Penn State in football, Maryland has made it clear that they’re the best of the two to make the programs into rivals, and I personally couldn’t be happier.

As such, I have made it my duty to reserve every single recap when these two teams play in basketball. And, as of late, writing these has been nothing but pleasant. Why wouldn’t I take great pleasure in writing about Penn State beating the Terrapins at the sport they’re known for? It feels as joyous as it must have felt for the Terrapins to beat Penn State in football earlier in the season. Back to the game...

Penn State, who came off the best performance of its season on Wednesday, looked to be poised for a disastrous outing against Maryland. The Nittany Lions couldn’t get anything going, missing shots from point blank range when not committing live ball turnovers, all the while the Terrapins were having quite the offensive performance themselves.

Maryland started the game on fire, scoring the first 12 points on red-hot shooting. The Lions, on the other hand, could not get anything going offensively. Penn State tied its season low of 23 points in this game, with the other game against Maryland having the honor of being the game where the Lions also scored 23.

For as bad as the first half went, however, the Nittany Lions did not let things get out of hand. A bright spot in the half was Seth Lundy seemingly finding his offense again, and at one point Lundy had scored all of Penn State’s points, until other Nittany Lions got in on the action.

The defense wasn’t entirely bad, the offense simply couldn’t get anything going. Maryland would settle on a 10-point lead, which it took to halftime. All that said, going down 10-points after the atrociousness that was the first half is nothing short of a minor miracle.

It was Penn State, however, who came out on fire in the second half. The Nittany Lions closed the 10-point deficit to five, and then to three, behind an offensive pace that worked better than the snail’s pace they played at in the first half.

The second half was run after run after run. Once Penn State closed the game down to a three-point deficit, Maryland went on an 11-0 run to get the lead back up to 14. The Nittany Lions followed up with an 11-0 run of their own to get it down to three again. Maryland would bring it back up to seven, but unfortunately for Maryland, it was Penn State who would have the last run.

Four Factors Analysis

Your eyes don’t deceive you. It is indeed Maryland who had the substantially better effective field goal percentage. But when you don’t rebound, turn the ball over a ton, and miss a bunch of your free throws, you end up losing the game. The Nittany Lions used the same formula they used in the previous game, and —at least in the second half— it worked to perfection.

Player of the Game

Seth Lundy, welcome back! The man was possessed in this game, scoring 31 points, to go along with 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 assist.

Random Observations

Stephen Bardo is a fan - This is not the first time Bardo has raved about the Midnight Domino Show. Today was just another plug for the pod.

Consistently inconsistent - The first and second halves were a microcosm of Penn State’s season. The first half was atrocious, but not catastrophic, then the second half was pretty good, but not good enough.

One last run - Jim Ferry, when asked, said the Nittany Lions had one last run in them. Here’s to five more!

One last thing - Penn State is 6-5 against Maryland since they joined the Big Ten.

Looking Ahead

Penn State plays Nebraska a third time this season, the next tilt on Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament. Game is on The Big Ten Network, time yet to be determined.