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Minnesota 83, Penn State 74: A Tale of Two Halves

Nittany Lions blow a 14-point halftime lead in loss

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State fell 83-74 to Minnesota on Saturday, dropping the Nittany Lions to 3-6 in conference play. A strong finish to the first half earned Penn State a 45-31 lead at the break, but the Gophers outscored the Lions 52-29 in the second half to get out of State College with a win.

First Half

The first 10 minutes of the game were tight, with neither team taking a lead larger than three until Dawson Garcia made a jumper to give the Gophers a 14-10 lead. After Cam Christie gave Minnesota a 24-18 lead with a jumper, the Nittany Lions immediately seized control of the game. An avalanche of offense, three forced turnovers, and outstanding passing from Ace Baldwin and Kanye Clary helped Penn State blow the game open with a 22-2 run. Zach Hicks’ three-pointer finished off the run and gave the Lions a 40-26 lead. Penn State would take a 45-31 lead to the intermission.

Second Half

The Lions’ 14-point lead evaporated almost immediately after halftime. Dawson Garcia scored seven points as part of an early 15-4 run that sliced the Penn State advantage to just three points at the under-16 timeout. Minnesota continued to pick apart Mike Rhoades’ defense, driving to the basket with ease and drawing several fouls against the Nittany Lions. Penn State’s offense had sputtered as well, scoring just 13 points over the first 12 minutes of the second half. The Gophers had regained control of the game at the under-8 timeout, holding a 64-58 lead.

There was a sense of urgency in the BJC with the Lions falling behind, but a three-pointer by Ace Baldwin and a Zach Hicks steal and layup immediately cut the Gophers’ lead to two. After trading baskets, Kanye Clary was injured after he ran into Parker Fox at the top of the key, and Nick Kern exited the game with an injury on the ensuing defensive possession.

Shorthanded in the closing minutes, the Nittany Lions were unable to finish off a comeback.

Player of the Game

Ace Baldwin- 16 points, 6 assists, 3-5 3-point FG

Baldwin was the only Penn State player to make more than one three-point shot and led the team in assists.

Random Observations

  • Injuries: Kanye Clary and Nick Kern both left the game late in the second half. Penn State struggled to put together any offense down the stretch without them. Hopefully they will be ready to go Wednesday night.
  • Ice Cold From 3: Penn State players not named Ace Baldwin were 2 for 14 from beyond the arc in the game. It’s hard to spread out a quality defense without any outside shooting threats.
  • Standings: A win tonight would have put Penn State in a tie for 7th in the conference, but instead the Lions are alone in 12th place.
  • THON Game Crowd: Attendance has long been a struggle for Penn State basketball, but it was nice to see a strong turnout for the THON game.

What’s Next

Penn State will travel east on Wednesday to take on Rutgers. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30pm, and the game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.