Penn State Basketball held a lead for most of the game, but in the end the shooting completely dried up and Rutgers rallied back to steal a 59-56 win over Penn State.
The Nittany Lions opened with some amazing basketball, holding a 26-9 lead with just 5 minutes left in the first half. This was thanks to some great shot making from Pickett, Wynter, and Clary. All three players have been surging for the Nittany Lions as of late and are huge reasons for Penn State’s three game winning streak coming into the game. Freshman Rutgers guard Derek Simpson came off the bench and played some fantastic basketball to end the first half, almost single handedly cutting that Penn State lead to 10 at the break with the score of 31-21.
Penn State came out firing to start the second half, with a quick 6 points from Wynter and a three from Funk to push the lead back to 19 within just 2 minutes. Rutgers was able to cut the lead to 10 with about 15 minutes left thanks to some hot shooting, and the margin would remain around there for almost the rest of the game. Kebba Njie made a push shot off a nice feed from Wynter with 9 minutes left to make the score 53-43. That would be Penn State’s last made field goal of the entire game.
The Nittany Lions missed their last 14 field goal attempts to end the game including 8 missed shots from Seth Lundy alone. Lundy had a nightmare of a game, shooting 1/16 from the field and 0/11 from three. He also fouled Derek Simpson on a tough and-1 layup that game Rutgers the lead with just 1:24 to play. Clifford Omoruyi got a layup to go with 32 seconds left to push the lead to 3 and after a flurry of threes in the final seconds that missed, Rutgers held on to steal this one from Penn State.
Simpson and Omoruyi were the stars of the show for Rutgers tonight. The freshman guard came off the bench and got 16 points including the game winner, and the junior center got 9 points and dominated the glass with 13 rebounds. As a team however they struggled, shooting just 38% from the field and 33% from deep.
Penn State did not fare much better. They shot just 37% from the field and 28% from three. Lundy’s performance was a huge part of this bad team shooting but Andrew Funk did not help either. He continued his shooting slump, going just 1/7 from deep tonight. Penn State only had 9 turnovers as a team but 5 of them came in the final 10 minutes which really added to the meltdown down the stretch.
Pickett was held to a more quiet game, scoring just 11 all in the first half and only dishing 5 assists due to the poor shooting of his teammates. Wynter continued his strong play scoring 16 points with 3 assists. The freshman pair of Clary and Njie added 13 points combined and continue to look more comfortable in Big Ten play.
This was a game that Penn State really needed to win for their NCAA Tournament hopes. This makes their next game against Northwestern virtually a must win for the Nittany Lions. That game is at Northwestern on Wednesday, March 1st at 9:00 PM EST on the Big Ten Network.