In a night where many hoped Penn State Basketball would get back into the win column, they fell just short in overtime against Wisconsin with a final score of 79-74.
The Bryce Jordan Center has been kind to Penn State this year with a record of 11-1 at home coming into this game. However, even at home, the Nittany Lions could not snap their 2-game losing streak.
Penn State has struggled defending highly skilled big men in the post all season, tonight was no different. It was Senior Forward Tyler Wahl for Wisconsin who scored the opening basket to give Wisconsin the early lead. Wahl would continue to dominate in the post throughout the first half leading the Badgers with 10 points at the half.
For Penn State, Seth Lundy’s hot shooting streak continued, he started the game knocking down a wide-open mid-range shot, and then on the next possession hitting a triple for 5 early points. But the rest of Penn State’s offense struggled to find their rhythm early on, as they trailed Wisconsin 14-12 with 10:40 remaining in the first half.
The majority of the offense in the first half came from Camern Wynter who only scored 5 points in the past 4 games combined coming into tonight’s game. He was inserted back into the starting lineup, and Wynter was attacking the basket early and often. He ended the night with 15 points on 7 for 13 shooting from the floor.
Penn State failed to get consecutive defensive stops against Wisconsin. But just before time expired at the half Jalen Pickett was able to tip in a basket, bringing Penn State within 6 as they trailed 35-29 at halftime. But Penn State basketball is known for their three-point shooting was only 2 for 9 from downtown at the half.
The message out of halftime was clear, Coach Shrewsbury wanted Pickett to attack the basket and be more aggressive. Pickett did just that, stuffing the stat sheet per usual. He ended the night with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Penn State was able to get Wisconsin into foul trouble as the Nittany Lions were in the bonus for the final 12 minutes of the game. This allowed Penn State to get back into an attacking mindset and they tied the game at 56 with a Myles Dread floater with just over 6 minutes left.
Their first lead of second half came with 4:14 remaining from a Seth Lundy 3, this forced a Wisconsin timeout as the Bryce Jordan Center erupted.
The two teams traded back and forth baskets as the seconds ticked down in regulation.
Wisconsin’s Sophomore Guard Chucky Hepburn really took over in the second half. It was his 3-point jump shot that gave Wisconsin a 68-65 lead with 33 seconds left in regulation. Hepburn ended up going 5-9 from downtown on the night.
But Seth Lundy had proved once again to have ice in his veins, as he knocked down a 3 that tied the game at 68 with 23 seconds left. Neither team was able to score from there, which led to overtime.
In overtime, Wisconsin took the lead and never looked back. Connor Essegian hit a three giving the Badgers a 72-68 lead, he finished the night with 18 points himself.
Penn State was outscored 11 to 6 in overtime and their offense never got into a rhythm. Jalen Pickett fouled out of the game with 24 seconds left in overtime, which made things even more challenging for the Nittany Lions.
Wahl, Hepburn, and Essegian ended up combining for 53 of Wisconsin’s 79 points and Penn State’s losing streak now goes to 3 straight games, and their NCAA tournament hopes start to become even more thin.
Penn State basketball will return to action on Saturday 2/11, as they hit the road to take on the Maryland Terrapins at 12 PM EST on Big Ten Network.