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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lion Upset Bid Of No. 16 Maryland Falls Short In Final Minute

by on February 05, 2015 12:07 AM

Penn State's men's basketball team has gotten so close so many times this season.

A 64-58 loss to No. 16 Maryland in College Park is the latest in a growing list of last minute heart breaks.

The Nittany Lions were sharper on Wednesday night after a turnover prone game against Illinois, giving it up only 11 times in a fast-paced back-and-forth affair. DJ Newbill led the way for Penn State with 18 points as the Nittany Lions shot well over 50 percent from the field in the first half.

But for entire first half and most of the second Penn State held its own quite well with the Terrapins on their home court. The Nittany Lions matched them shot for shot while leading the home town team for most of the first half.

Penn State would in ultimately trail Maryland 29-28 at the break but had done more than enough in the opening 20 minutes to prove they were at least theoretically capable of pulling off the upset.

The second half would be a bigger challenge for Penn State though, facing old teammate Jon Graham whose trademark emotion and energy helped lead Maryland to a nine point second half lead early in the frame. Graham's 16 points were a career high and did plenty to get the crowd going as Maryland looked to blow open the game.

Penn State weathered the storm. Shep Garner's strong second half play coupled with Geno Thorpe's 10 points helped keep the Nittany Lions within reach. Devin Foster continued to show impressive finishing skills at key junctures.

It was Brandon Taylor who emerged as the hero for Penn State late in the game as he returned from a knee injury on Wednesday. Taylor hit three key shots from beyond the arc to keep Penn State within a possession.

Trailing by five with just over two minutes to go in regulation, Taylor drained a long three to bring Penn State within one. Maryland answered the Taylor basket with one of its own, but Taylor drained yet another to keep Penn State within a point with just over a minute to play.

Penn State wouldn't score another point. Maryland's free throw shooting and defense kept the Nittany Lions from pulling off the upset. Newbill worked hard to draw a foul late but his shot didn't fall and a foul wasn't called. Penn State had the ball down four points with just over seven seconds to play, but Ross Travis failed to get the ball in play and was called for a five second violation. That gave Maryland the ball. The Terps headed to the free throw line for the game's final points. Where Penn State looked for heroics Maryland found offensive balance and just enough good luck.

Overall it was a solid but incomplete effort by Penn State. The Nittany Lions avoided the potential blowout moments when the momentum swung Maryland's way but failed to capitalize at key junctures as they looked to pick up the upset victory.

Newbill and Thorpe combined for 28 points while Taylor and Devin Foster chipped in a key 6-for-11 shooting night for 15 points off the bench. 

As the game neared its finish head coach Patrick Chambers was seen slowly shaking his head. His team had once again done so much right, but once again needed to do so much more to get over the hump.

Penn State returns home for a weekend meeting with Nebraska at 4 p.m. on Saturday where it will be yet another chance to pick up Big Ten win No. 3.


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