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No. 16 Penn State Basketball Escapes Against Rutgers in 65-64 Nail-Biter

by on February 26, 2020 9:35 PM

No. 16 Penn State men’s basketball (21-7, 11-6 Big Ten) squandered a huge first-half lead against Rutgers (18-11, 9-9 Big Ten) but eked out a 65-64 win on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Izaiah Brockington led the way for Penn State with 16 points, but the biggest play of the night came when Myles Dread nailed a three to give his team the lead on the Nittany Lions’ final possession. It was an ugly second half for Penn State, which shot 30% from the field and went 1-9 from three-point range.

That one three-pointer ended up being just enough, though, and Pat Chambers squad put an end to its two-game losing skid.

How It Happened

Myles Dread got the scoring going for Penn State when he was fouled on a three-point attempt and nailed two of his free throws. Shaq Carter responded for the Scarlet Knights when he slammed home a dunk, but a three from Jamari Wheeler gave the lead back to the Nittany Lions early. The junior guard also managed to force two turnovers in the first three minutes.

The Scarlet Knights went on a 6-0 scoring run out of an early break, but Curtis Jones. Jr stopped that by converting on one of two free throws. Rutgers hung around, but a three from Lamar Stevens stretched Penn State’s lead back out to 16-10 at just under 12 minutes to go in the half.

The Nittany Lion offense started to heat up over the next few minutes. Dread and Seth Lundy both hit threes, while an alley-oop finish by Mike Watkins electrified the BJC and gave Penn State a double-digit lead. Another trey from Lundy opened up Penn State's lead to 31-17  and forced Steve Pikiell to take his second timeout with 6:03 left in the half.

 

 

 

Another alley-oop for Watkins kept things rolling after the break. A jumper by Stevens and five points from Izaiah Brockington keyed a 7-0 scoring run that widened Penn State's lead to 40-19 with 1:30 left in the half

 

Rutgers battled back a bit thanks to a few free throws, but Penn State’s defensive effort was dominant overall in the first half. The Nittany Lions took a 42-24 lead into the locker room while shooting 50% from the field compared to Rutgers’ 31%.

Dread opened up Penn State’s scoring in the second half with an and-one jumper. Ron Harper Jr. and Gio Baker were productive for the Scarlet Knights in the first few minutes, and suddenly Rutgers trailed by just 10 points thanks to a 3:07 scoring drought for the Nittany Lions. A smooth mid-range jumper by Brockington got Penn State back on track, and the Nittany Lions held a 47-35 lead with 15:23 left.

Rutgers got within single-digits off of a three by Paul Mulcahy, and it continued to push back into the game on a strong take to the rim by Harper Jr. Penn State’s lead dwindled to 51-46 with 11:49 to play.

The Scarlet Knights eventually got within one of Penn State’s lead, but the Nittany Lions’ offense started to heat up again. A dunk from John Harrar and a spectacular and-one finish from Brockington helped the Nittany Lions stretch their lead back out to 60-50 at the 5:54 mark.

The Scarlet Knights didn’t give up the fight down the stretch, as Harper Jr. continued to nail big shots. Chambers’ squad led 62-57 at the final media timeout with 3:48 left in the game.

A three from Akwasi Yeboah brought Rutgers within two points out of the break, and a strong finish inside by Gio Baker tied the game up at 62-62 with less than two minutes two play. Lamar Stevens followed that up by going to the line but missing both free throws, and Baker proceeded to nail a mid-range jumper to give his team the lead, its first of the game.

Pat Chambers took a timeout down 64-62 with 38 seconds left.

Facing a potentially disastrous loss, Dread got the ball at the top of the key and drained a massive three to give Penn State a 65-64 lead with 26 seconds left to save the day. Rutgers got one final chance but the Nittany Lions' defense forced Yeboah to take a contested three in the final seconds that was off the mark. Harrar wrangled the rebound and somehow, someway, the Nittany Lions escaped with the victory.

 

Takeaways

  • Despite an ugly second half on offense, tonight’s win once again proved that this team has talent up and down the roster that most Nittany Lions fans have never seen before. Lamar Stevens scored just nine points on the night and shot 4-13 from the field, but all eight players who got in the game scored and added some serious value on both ends.
  • Myles Dread is that dude. He’s certainly had his struggles this year from three-point range, but I don’t think you can have any bigger confidence boost than nailing a game-winning shot in the final seconds for your squad. Oh by the way, he finished his night with a career-high seven assists.
  • Despite missing a few minutes due to an injury he sustained early in the second half, Izaiah Brockington was a force off the bench for the Nittany Lions. He led Penn State with 16 points and shot an impressive 5-6 from the field, nailing some key buckets for Pat Chambers’ squad. He’ll likely continue to play a key role for this team come tournament time.

What’s Next

Penn State travels to Iowa on Saturday for a noon tip-off airing on the Big Ten Network.



Will Pegler is a Penn State student and a writer for Onward State.
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