In the most meaningful basketball game in a decade, Penn State Basketball showed up when it mattered most on Senior Day.
Penn State Basketball came away with its biggest win of the season with a 65-64 victory over Maryland on another Cam Wynter game winner.
The notes I took for this article while watching the game were not pretty for the most part. To say I was disappointed in our first half performance would be an understatement. With all of their goals still in front of them, Penn State Basketball came out flat in the regular season finale.
Much like the first half of the Northwestern game, Penn State struggled with turnovers and the offense in general felt very stagnant. At one point early on, Penn State had three turnovers in four possessions while Maryland went on a 18-5 run over a nine minute span.
The offense wasn’t the only thing struggling in the first half as Penn State Basketball also dealt with foul trouble, including three defensive fouls on one possession which would eventually lead to a Maryland three. It wasn’t pretty. Maryland led 35-22 at half.
Thankfully, especially for the 7 seniors, the first half deficit didn’t matter. It seemingly all changed when Jalen Pickett hit a buzzer beater desperation-three to end the half. Spoiler alert: It wouldn’t be the only buzzer beater Penn State hit this game.
Jahmir Young did his best to keep Maryland in control of this one, giving them 26 points and seemingly making a bucket every time Penn State made a run. But a much improved second half offense from the Nittany Lions would be difficult for Maryland to stop.
Funk would come out firing from three. Pickett would drive and get a lucky bounce. Suddenly it was a 7-0 run and the lead was down to 8.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. Pickett picked up his third foul and Wynter picked up his fourth. Wynter would then sit on the bench for a while and Penn State would need to mount the comeback without their savior from Wednesday.
Funk and Dread would step up huge, hitting back to back threes. Lundy, who struggled with his shot today, would get fouled on a three point attempt and make all three free throws. It was now a 9-2 run and the lead was down to 4.
Dread would also step up in the playmaking department with Wynter’s absence. He chipped in three assists including a beautiful pass inside to Lundy in the closing minutes. On the next possession, the ball would find Funk in the corner. Unfortunately, his foot was just barely on the line and it was ruled a two so Penn State remained down by one with 1:24 left.
Looking to stop the run, Maryland turned to Jahmir Young again. But this time the Nittany Lions were ready. An amazing defensive possession resulted in a miss and the Lions looked to take their first lead since very early on. The defense collapsed on Pickett who then found a cutting Wynter for the easy layup. Penn State Basketball completed the comeback and took the lead with under a minute left.
Maryland called a timeout and got their big man Julian Reese back in the game. He set a screen and rolled to the rim for an easy two. Maryland back on top with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Down one, Penn State had three timeouts left but chose not to use them. Pickett drove, forced the double, kicked it back out to Lundy at the top of the key. The shot hits the rim and bounces down, and somehow, in a sea of bodies, Camren Wynter is there to PUT IT BACK UP AND IN. THE NITTANY LIONS HAVE THE LEAD WITH .5 SECONDS LEFT. The Terrapins can’t get the hail mary to work and for the second game in a row, Camren Wynter has hit a game winner to save the season.
After the game, many of the players and coaches were overcome with emotion, especially Myles Dread. And I can’t blame him. Dread has played in more games for Penn State Basketball than anyone in school history. But this season hasn’t gone as he planned Struggling and relegated to the bench for most of the season, Dread came up huge on Senior Day. His second half play forced Maryland to bench star big man Julian Reese. He also played amazing defense despite being undersized.
It’s only fitting that the seniors all came up huge today. Pickett stuffed the stat sheet as usual. Dread had one of his best games of the season off the bench. Funk nailed four three pointers. Wynter made the game winning basket.
Penn State finishes the regular season on the highest of highs. This game also clinched the Nittany Lions a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament. More importantly, barring a disaster scenario, it looks like Penn State Basketball will be dancing for the first time since 2011.