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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Fall To Illinois In Final Seconds 60-58

by on January 31, 2015 4:30 PM

Penn State couldn't overcome 19 turnovers and a last second shot by Illinois, falling 60-58 Saturday afternoon.

A DJ Newbill running layup at the buzzer came up just short, closing out the Nittany Lions' first loss in three games.

Neither Illinois or Penn State played a particularly good-looking first half. Both teams turned the ball over and struggled to find consistent offense in the opening 20 minutes of play. Newbill scored an early 7 points but was hit with two fouls sending him to the bench for the half's final six minutes.

Julian Moore had the game of his career in the first half alone with 8 points including an emphatic put-back slam to silence an already quiet Illinois crowd. Penn State trailed by only four at the break.

Illinois, on the other hand, struggled to shoot all game aside from the efforts of Malcolm Hill and his game high 27 points. Hill went 10-of-15 from the floor on Saturday and was only one of three players to make more than a basket for the Illini. 

With Newbill back in the equation early in the second half the Nittany Lions looked much more balanced and confident. Newbill and Hill traded big shots. Moore continued his impressive game with another slam and 4 rebounds to his name. Penn State's defense held Illinois to only 37 percent shooting from the floor but 19 turnovers kept the Nittany Lions from pulling away.

In fact, both teams combined for a total of 4 made shots in the final 7:06 of regulation. Turnovers, misses and free throws dominated the run of play. Two Shep Garner free throws put Penn State up 57-56 with 3:31 to go but a lone Jordan Dickerson free throw was the only point Penn State scored in that final span.

Even with the offensive struggles, Penn State held the ball with the game tied 58-58 game and 33 seconds left to play. The win was not to be. Devin Foster was called for an illegal screen as he handed off the ball to Newbill giving the Illini a chance to take the lead.

And Hill did just that, scoring his 26th and 27th points of the game driving to the hoop against Jordan Dickerson and laying in a shot with just over 4 seconds to play.

Newbill would split a double team on the inbound pass and get across court but contact, no foul call, and the ball just bouncing out of the hoop kept Illinois on the winning side of the equation.

Despite the loss there were a few positives for fans to take away from the game. Moore and Dickerson combined for 16 points in the paint and Shep Garner shot 50 percent from the field to chip in 14 points of his own as Penn State looked to replace the injured Brandon Taylor for the second straight game.

Penn State will head to Maryland to face the Terps on February 4th before coming back to the Bryce Jordan Center for a meeting with Nebraska.

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