Penn State Basketball: Frustration Shows In 79-76 Loss To Indiana
Simply put, the Nittany Lions could be 2-2 in conference play without much effort. That second "almost-win" came on Saturday as Penn State fell in the game's final minutes to Indiana, 79-76.
For the Nittany Lions, a missed shot at the buzzer marked the second straight game that Penn State had a chance to tie and failed to do so. More importantly, the second straight game that head coach Patrick Chambers has watched a win slip through his team's hands.
For Chambers, he feels his team has maybe lost its focus. Or in the very least there are enough distractions around the team that it deserves addressing. For two straight games he has indirectly called out his team, one that really should be sitting on a better record right now.
"This is a constant grind of us just trying to help them make the right decisions and of taking young adults and trying to help them become men, good citizens and good husbands." Chambers said, punching his finger into the table.
"These kids don’t know what adversity is and we’re facing adversity. Now you have to see how they step up. They have to be able to face the challenge and break through. I’m not going to look up in the stands or text after the game. I’m not going to call, or tweet or post – whatever you want to call it. I’m not saying those are all our issues. We’re close. I have to take some responsibility too. We’re close, though. We have to do a better job of executing at the end of games."
To the Nittany Lions' credit, they came out firing, taking a 31-16 lead into the under 8-minute timeout of the first half. DJ Newbill was effective after fouling out last game against Minnesota and Penn State looked like a confident team. Indiana would go on a 21-10 run over the final minutes of the first half to trail Penn State by only four at the break, 41-37.
From there, the Hoosiers came out of halftime with a new game on their hands. Indiana would take a brief 52-46 lead in the opening stages of the second half as the Hoosiers continued to surge. Penn State tied the game and would take an eventual 68-65 lead with just under four minutes to play. Both teams would trade baskets and fouls and Penn State's Brandon Taylor missed a wide open three that would have given Penn State a two-point lead in the final minute of regulation. From there, Indiana made its free throws and Penn State could never gets closer than two points and needing to foul.
"We are one, maybe two stops away from winning these games," Newbill said after the game. "The biggest thing for our team is to stay confident. Don’t let the lows be too low. Keep fighting, stick together and just keep battling. That’s the only thing we can do right now."
"We tell our team this is the hardest playing team in the league," Indiana coach Tom Crean said "There’s no question about it."
If Penn State is going to turn this season around, they will need to rely on more than just playing hard to get the job done.