In what is now a clear trend, the Penn State Nittany Lions are simply unable to close out games. Penn State again lost a second-half lead, this time in a heartbreaker with under 20 seconds to go. Leading 64-61 with under 20 seconds remaining, the Nittany Lions gave up the final four points to the Purdue Boilermakers. The biggest shot was a three-pointer hit by Terone Johnson with 6.6 seconds remaining to tie the game.
As if giving up a game-tying three in the final seconds wasn’t bad enough, the final sequence of the game was even worse for Penn State. With a chance to win the game, the Nittany Lions turned the ball over on the in-bound pass and then committed a foul with under one second to go.
Purdue’s A.J. Hammons calmly made the first shot, then missed the second on purpose, making it tougher for Penn State, and Purdue walked away with the 65-64 comeback victory.
The loss was Penn State’s sixth straight in the conference.
This was a low-scoring game in which neither team shot the ball very well. Penn State shot just 36 percent from the field, while Purdue made a measly 32 percent from the field. Perhaps the stat of the night was the fact that the Boilermakers made more free throws (22) than field goals (18), yet were still able to pull off the victory.
Penn State again started slow, scoring just 33 points in the first half. Time Frazier, one of the best point guards in the conference, paced the team in the first 20 minutes, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds. Guard D.J. Newbill, the second part of the third-highest scoring backcourt in the nation, struggled to get going, scoring just two points before halftime.
The second half was better for the Nittany Lions, especially Newbill who woke up and finished the game with 17 points. Frazier led the team with 21 points and tied Newbill for the team lead in rebounds with nine. Donovon Jack, who fouled out, added eight points and four rebounds.
Purdue, one of the best rebounding teams in the nation finished with 49 boards and presented a dominant force in the paint with the combination of Hammons and Basil Smotherman.
Terone Johnson, Purdue’s leading scorer for the season, led the team with 14 points. He struggled for much of the night, but came alive in the final minutes, especially with his late three-pointer. Smotherman finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Hammons had 10 points and five rebounds.
This loss will certainly sting, as the game looked to be in hand in the final seconds. Coach Patrick Chambers will have to help his tam but this one behind them and get ready to take the court on January 23rd at home against Nebraska.
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