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Maryland 81, Penn State 75: An Encouraging Effort Was Not Enough

Maryland extends its home winning streak to 16 games.

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

Coming off one of its worst losses in recent memory, Penn State men’s basketball had to travel to College Park to open Big Ten play against Maryland. What could go wrong?

Well, all things considered, not much. Well, they lost. But, the Nittany Lions came out the gate swinging — on the road, in their first Big Ten game under Mike Rhoades, and on the coattails of an embarrassing defeat. Penn State took a lead as large as 20-9 in the first half and quickly stole momentum from the home crowd. Kanye Clary, coming off an abysmal showing against Bucknell, had 13 points through 20 minutes.

While Maryland brought its deficit back to two points at halftime, Penn State continued to play tough throughout the period. Despite some rebounding struggles, the Nittany Lions hustled, got scrappy, and did not show any signs of putting their tails between their legs after what happened against the bison.

But, the Terps’ size advantage started to show. They welcomed Penn State’s VCU transfers to the Big Ten by logging nine forced turnovers and three blocks in the first half. Coming off non-conference play is an adjustment — you can’t get away with things you used to against smaller, less physical opponents.

Maryland took its first lead of the game in the early minutes of the second half, but Rhoades’ crew went punch-for-punch with the Terps. Clary, in particular, continued to shoot lights out and stifled Maryland’s momentum with timely buckets. But, Penn State quickly got into foul trouble and let the Terps inch back via some sloppy turnovers and fouls. By the seven-minute mark, Maryland had retaken the lead.

Penn State also got in the double bonus near the four-minute mark, but Qudus Wahab fouled out of the game shortly after. At this point in the matchup, Maryland had made double the number of free throws as the Nittany Lions.

Down the stretch, Maryland basically tried to bleed the Nittany Lions out. Clary started to run out of juice and came up gimpy on a few occasions. The Terps continued to go to the charity stripe. But, Penn State’s resiliency was on full display. Ace Baldwin made a pair of free throws with seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, the Nittany Lions ran out of answers. They could not get anything going on offense and started 0-for-5 from the field before Ace Baldwin finally got sent to the line. The iso-ball possessions simply came up empty and they are now 4-5 on the season.

Player of the Game

Kanye Clary — 25 points, four rebounds, two assists, nine-for-nine from the line

Clary clearly learned some lessons from the Bucknell game. He was not gun-shy at all in this bounce-back effort and kept Penn State in the game during key moments. Yes, he did play a bit of hero-ball at times — which perhaps is more indicative of a lack of total offensive identity — but the sophomore was integral to keeping the Nittany Lions in the game.

Random Observations

  • It’s time to talk about rebounds: Maryland had more offensive rebounds (23) than Penn State had defensive (22). That’s a little bit ridiculous. The Big Ten is hard and physical and big and everything, but being out-rebounded by 22 boards is not going to win you many basketball games.
  • Penn State still brought the intensity: After an embarrassing loss, Penn State was playing with a fire under its ass. The Nittany Lions silence the College Park crowd, which has now led its Terps to 16 consecutive home wins, early and often. It felt like the Nittany Lions had an answer for nearly every Maryland run, and simply ran out of steam in the end.
  • A telling free-throw disparity: Maryland: 30-for-39 (77%) | Penn State 19-for-21 (90.5%)
  • The Big Ten Network cut the game’s audioTruly a random observation. The Big Ten Network decided to completely turn off the audio to the game for about three minutes. No dribbles, no music, no commentators. Just complete silence. There are your mindfulness minutes of the day.
  • This alley-oop was awesome: