The good feeling from Thursday’s dominating performance against Northwestern quickly disappeared for Penn State on Sunday. The Nittany Lions dropped the regular season finale 81-63 at Minnesota. Penn State was unable get going in this one, falling way behind early and never catching up.
The Nittany Lions were never able to get into a rhythm on the road, going down by 20 points just nine minutes into the contest. They never held a lead the entire game.
The lone bright spot was guard D.J. Newbill, who continued his strong season. He’s the team’s leading scorer and one of the best in the Big Ten. Against the Gophers he scored a game high 24 points. Unfortunately, he got little help from the rest of the team. Newbill single-handedly tried to bring the team back, scoring 15 points in the second half. However, Penn State never got closer than nine points.
Senior point guard Tim Frazier scored 14, with 10 points coming from the foul line. Like the case has been much of the season, Newbill and Frazier account for the majority of the scoring for the Nittany Lions.
Minnesota was led by a pair of guards. Senior Austin Hollins who scored 14 points and had three steals in his final home game. Junior DeAndre Mathieu led the team in scoring with 16 points. The Gophers got a surprising effort from senior Maverick Ahanmisi, who tied his career high with 13 points, including three made from behind the arc. In the previous 17 conference games, Ahanmisi scored just two points.
The Gophers are fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid under first-year head coach Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Minnesota is right on the tournament bubble and needs to continue to win in order to improve its resume.
Penn State finished the regular season with a record of 15-16 and went 6-12 in the Big Ten.
Now that the regular season is over, it’s time for the Big Ten Tournament to begin. With Sunday’s victory, Minnesota locked up the seventh seed in the conference while Penn State will be the 10th seed. These same two teams will meet on Thursday in Indianapolis in the first round. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals.
Check back with VBR this week for a preview of the Big Ten Tournament game.
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