Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Can't Complete Comeback, Fall to Boston College, 73-61
Penn State made a run, down 20 points late against Boston College, but the Nittany Lions fell to the Eagles on Wednesday night in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, 73-61.
It was another night of cold shooting as Penn State opened the game hitting 39 percent from the field and only 3-of-10 from beyond the arc. The Nittany Lions also struggled on the glass, collecting only two offensive rebounds and turning the ball over 10 times in the first half.
With the game all but over, Penn State fans made their way toward the exits, their Nittany Lions looking down the barrel of a 20-point deficit as Boston College led 59-39 with 5:22 to go.
However, if anything has been consistent in Patrick Chambers’ short tenure at Penn State, it is that his team has rarely ever quit.
Down 20, Penn State cut Boston College’s lead to only three in the span of 134 seconds thanks to forced turnovers and a 12-point outburst by junior guard Jermaine Marshall. The Nittany Lions were never able to tie the game, but effort in those final five minutes gave many of the departing fans a reason to return to their seats.
“We push and we drive them,” Chambers said after the game. “I was disappointed in the first 20 minutes. But that final five minutes they showed me something, that they play hard and have a lot of heart.”
"I give those kids so much credit," Boston College coach Steve Donahue said. "I think Coach Chambers and his staff had those guys playing. There is not a team that plays harder than they do in the country."
Boston College took advantage of the slow start, opening an eight-point lead by the 14:03 mark in the first half. Following a 16-point performance against Bucknell, freshman forward Brandon Taylor picked up two first-half fouls and scored no points. A DJ Newbill 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the Eagles’ lead to 31-24 at the half.
Penn State opened the second half hitting four of its first five shots, but Taylor picked up his third foul only a minute-and-a-half into the second half, and Boston College slowly inflated its 33-28 lead to 15 points with only 8:47 to go before Penn State made its comeback bid.
In the big picture, Wednesday night’s loss was the epitome of a transitional period in a program, the season-ending injury to preseason and returning All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier only compounding the issues. Newbill, a slashing and aggressive guard, has been forced to take over offensive responsibilities that he is capable of but not necessarily well suited for. Couple that with the fact Penn State has struggled to produce any consistent offense in its front court, and nights like Wednesday are almost inevitable.
“He’s still learning,” Chambers said of Newbill running the point. “But he is doing the best he can and that is all we can ask from him. He played 36 minutes and he had the ball the whole time. That is a lot of minutes. I'll break down the film to look at all of his shots, all of his turnovers, all of his assists, as well as his ball-screen reads, and we will continue to teach him. This is what we are in for for a little while here; you know he is not a point guard.
"I think for the most part, he is trying and he is doing what I have asked him to do. He has missed some lay-ups, but he is right there and I think this is going to make him one heck of a player when this is all said and done."