Penn State basketball started off on fire against Purdue, the No. 14 team in the country, opening up the ball game on a 10-2 run, but the Nittany Lions could not hold it together. Penn State fell to Purdue 74 – 70 in an overtime nail-biter.
“I am really proud of my team, but there are no moral victories anymore – we have to get things done” said Pat Chambers after the game.
Almost one month ago to date, the Nittany Lions fell to Purdue in West Lafayette by 20 points. Tonight they played arguably one of their best games of the season and took the Top 15 team to overtime.
“We competed, that was the hardest we played all year, they were tough, they competed, I am really proud of my team,” Chambers said.
Freshman Lamar Stevens led Penn State through the first half shooting exceptionally well from the 10-15 foot range, finishing with 10 points and 5 rebounds at the end of the first period. In the opening half, Penn State as a team shot a mediocre 34% from the field, but managed to move the ball well and find openings among the Purdue defense.
Not only did Stevens lead the Nittany Lions after the 1st half, but Mike Watkins absolutely dominated the paint on both sides of the ball and really allowed the blue and white to keep the lead. The redshirt freshman collected 12 rebounds, 7 points and 3 blocks including a dominating drive in which Watkins grabbed three consecutive offensive boards on the same possession and finished with two free throws.
“He battled, he went down low with a potential lottery pick or first rounder, (Caleb Swanigan),” said Chambers about Watkins.
Penn State also held Swanigan to 2 first half points.
The Boilermakers, on the other hand, did not provide much offensive efficiency for most of the game. Purdue shot a mere 29% from the field in the 1st half and did not start shooting well until about 8 minutes remaining in the game.
With 7:34 left in the 2nd half, a Dakota Mathias three ball allowed Purdue to take the lead, from which point Purdue never trailed again in regulation.
The Boilermakers took over and ended up going up by 8 points with 3:22 left in the game. However, the Nittany Lions held on.
With strong play from Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens, Pat Chambers’ team pulled back and tied it with 17.7 seconds left thanks to two consecutive Tony Carr baskets.
The defense held up on the final offensive possession of regulation for the Boilermakers, and the game headed to an extra session.
The two teams traded baskets until Ryan Cline drilled back to back three pointers and put Purdue up four.
With less than a minute left and only down by two, Carr and Stevens made an error and fouled with seconds to go on the shot-clock for Purdue, sending them to the line to put the game away.
Tony Carr said after the game, “to me it’s nothing if you don’t win… you can play as hard as you want, but if you don’t win it’s nothing.”
Purdue Coach Matt Painter offered some encouraging words for the Nittany Lions, “it rarely happens when a team outplays the other, plays harder, and loses the game especially on their home court”
“You lose by one possession you think the worlds caving in on you, you win by one possession you think you are great” said Painter
Penn State will be back in action on Saturday at 3pm as they travel to take on Minnesota in a crucial Big 10 matchup. They will be back at home next Tuesday to face Ohio State at 8:30pm at the Bryce Jordan Center.