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Penn State Basketball: Late Calls Swing Tide As Nittany Lions Fall To Michigan State 66-60

by on January 22, 2015 6:00 AM

Penn State kept it close and was often tied with Michigan State on Wednesday night but failed to pull off the road win.

The Spartans sneaked by for a 66-60 victory.

DJ Newbill had 27 points in the losing effort as two Nittany Lions broke into double figures, while five Michigan State players carried the majority of the load.

How It Happened:

Geno Thorpe scored on a breakaway dunk to make it 4-2 in favor of Michigan State. But Penn State failed to score again until just under eight minutes had passed in the first half of Wednesday night's game. Luckily for Penn State the Spartans didn't shoot much better and the eventual Brandon Taylor three-pointer kept Michigan State close at 10-5.

From there the Nittany Lions found their groove, cutting the lead to only one with just over seven minutes to play in the half. The teams traded baskets but the Nittany Lions never took the lead. Still, they trailed by only 2 at the break. After struggling for much of the first half, Penn State felt fortunate to be down 30-28 on the road against a team difficult to beat on its home court.

In the final 20 minutes the Nittany Lions held their own. Penn State avoided any early second half punches by the Spartans and tied the game with 12:17 left in regulation thanks to a Brandon Taylor free throw.

Like much of the season so far, Penn State struggled to pull down key rebounds and shot 13-of-24 from the stripe while struggling to keep from fouling on the defensive end throughout the game.

Even so, DJ Newbill and freshman Shep Garner continued to answer Michigan State's big shots with shots of their own. Penn State tied the game with 4:51 to play.

Penn State only scored 9 points in the final five minutes of play. A technical foul on head coach Pat Chambers after three suspect calls against Penn State sparked a 6-0 Michigan State run to put the Spartans up 8 with 2:41 to go. DJ Newbill got Penn State within 4 points but never closer in the game's final minute.

"It's probably four years of frustration. Our kids compete, they play hard, they try. Let us decide the game," Chambers said. "There was three straight calls against us that were not called all game. I never want to say it's the refs, because they're good guys, they try their best. 

"But I just think people look at Penn State very differently, and I'm a little tired of it. And I didn't think it warranted a tech, but, that's his discretion, it's fine. I hurt my team tonight. I can't do that. I gotta be a solution-driven coach, I gotta be a positive, I gotta coach the game, which I did for the most part."

Newbill had a chance to bring it within 2 with 18 seconds to play but his free throws both failed to fall.

It Was Over When:

Penn State trailed by only 3 with just over a minute to play but couldn't get over the hump. Michigan State made free throws and Penn State failed to find the needed spark. DJ Newbill missed two free throws with 18 seconds to play. Even if he had cut the lead to only 2 it may simply a prolonged agony for Penn State. The end likely came much sooner though as a 4-0 run put Michigan State up by 7 with 50 seconds to play.

A Pat Chambers technical with 3:41 to go led to a Michigan State 6-0 run that earns an honorable mention here. The scoring spurt put the Spartans up by 8.

Stats Of The Game:

DJ Newbill scored 27 points in the losing effort after picking 37 against Purdue only a few days earlier. Newbill went 10-22 on the night. Brandon Taylor was the only other Nittany Lion in double figures. Taylor went 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Shep Garner poured in 9 points with Devin Foster the only other Nittany Lion to score more than one basket.

Michigan State pulled down 16 offensive rebounds to Penn State's 8 and won the battle on the boards by a 39-26 margin overall. Five Spartans finished in double figures.

Players Of The Game:

DJ Newbill's 27 points can't be overlooked but the 12 points, 10 rebound, 3 block and 2 steal effort by Branden Dawson showed why he is still one of the best in the conference. Bryn Forbes went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and was the only Spartan to make multiple threes. Gavin Shilling's 11 points and 10 rebounds can't be overlooked either.

Devin Foster added 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 22 minutes of play -- the first meaningful action of his Penn State career.

What's Up Next: 

Penn State returns home to host Rutgers on Saturday for a noon tip at the Bryce Jordan Center.


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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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