Coming off of a two-game skid with a 3-OT loss to Indiana and a home loss to Rutgers, Penn State basketball was looking for some energy with No. 21 ranked Maryland coming to Happy Valley. They found it.
The Nittany Lions started off the night on the right foot, leading for the entirety of the 1st half, with strong defensive play. “We kept Maryland at bay. Give them credit, they don’t make it easy. There are so many talented players on the floor, they stretch it out, they make great plays. But I felt like our team made big plays when we had to,” Head Coach Pat Chambers said after the game. Penn State was able to hold the Terps to 33.9% from the field.
This was the theme for most of the game as the Nittany Lion defense slowed down Maryland on offense significantly, making them look inside a lot to 6’11’’ Damonte Dodd. The senior Dodd finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds for the Terrapins.
With Penn State putting a defensive target on Melo Trimble, he still delivered early, producing 8 of Maryland’s first 10 points. Then he went cold. The junior didn’t get on the board in the second half until 6:37 left in the game, with just a singular free throw scored in the half. Penn State held the junior to only 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Although it wasn’t entirely an offensive game, the Nittany Lions came to play on the offensive end. Lamar Stevens went off with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist. “I consider myself a shooter now,” he jokingly said after the game. The freshman went 8 for 13 from the field including just his fourth three-pointer in his twelve Big Ten games.
Not only did Lamar Stevens have a career night, but the young freshmen as a whole carried the team.
“I think we had four freshmen and one sophomore out there at one point,” said Chambers.
Fellow freshmen and former Roman Catholic High School teammates Tony Carr and Nazeer Bostick also had outstanding performances. Bostick, who has been making his presence known as of late, came up with arguably two of the best plays of the game in the final minutes. The freshman gathered up a big offensive rebound and put-back when the lead was cut to four and then pursued down the court to stuff Maryland’s Anthony Cowan with a key block. “He’s earned the way into the rotation,” Chambers said.
Although the Nittany Lions ran into deep trouble midway through the 2nd half with Watkins, Carr, Zemgulis, Moore, and Stevens all in foul trouble, Chambers looked to his more veteran players to lock up the paint. Josh Reaves and Payton Banks provided ample defensive effort to keep the Penn State lead with about 9 minutes left in the 2nd half.
After the game Coach Chambers offered a few words about the character of his team, “I’m most proud of that mindset of not feeling sorry for ourselves, keeping a great attitude, because you know what, nobody feels sorry for us,” said Chambers. “So we just gotta keep getting better. Just keep getting better and good things are going to happen to us, success will find us.”
“God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers” said Tony Carr after the game. “We just need to keep on fighting.”
With the win, Penn State improves to 13-12 (4-7 Big Ten) while Maryland falls to 20-4 (8-3 Big Ten). The Nittany Lions will be back in action on Saturday in Champaign as they take on another Big Ten foe, Illinois. Penn State defeated the orange and white 71-67 just two weeks ago.