Penn State Basketball | So Close Yet So Far: Nittany Lions Fall to Purdue
Standing in front of coach Patrick Chambers, senior Nick Colella hoisted up an open 3-pointer with only 2:47 left to play. The shot would have turned a five-point game into a single possession game.
The ball rattled around the inner part of the rim before bouncing out. Purdue scored on the ensuing possession, and the Nittany Lions fell for the 10th straight game in conference play.
“It's like your golf game,” Chambers said after the game, which saw seven different Nittany Lions score while usual dependable scorer Jermaine Marshall struggled. “When you can't get off the tee, you can putt. When you can't putt, you can get off the tee. I don't know what to tell you. If Jermaine had an average game, who knows, we might be sitting here with a win. However, that's not the case and that's why this game is great.
“Other guys need to step up. Foul trouble killed us, too. I thought Sasa [Borovnjak] was playing well. He had a couple great practices and we put in a brand new set for him to get a couple shots and, unfortunately, he only played 16 minutes.”
“We just wanted to try to get the ball out of his hands and to contest all shots, but not let him get to the paint,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He will get into the post sometimes, but he drives and gets that intermediate shot, so we just wanted to stay in front of him and hopefully not give him any angles.”
For Penn State, while the team may not admit it, Tuesday night’s loss stung particularly hard.
The Nittany Lions held Purdue to 24 first-half points, taking a one-point lead into halftime for the first time in Big Ten play.
A nine-point lead in the first half marked the largest lead by Penn State in conference play. DJ Newbill led the Nittany Lions with 17 points while tying his career high with seven assists. Ross Travis added eight points going 4-for-8 from the field after several games of cold shooting.
The Boilermakers were not particularly efficient from the floor and went 0-for-10 from behind the arc. For the first in a long time, Penn State was in position to win a game and again the bounces didn’t go its way.
“I'm going to tell you where we lost the game," Chambers said. “The last four minutes of the first half and first four minutes of the second half. That's it. We played great for 32 minutes and did a lot of great things. We had a couple great looks, but they just didn't fall. All we can do is keep a great attitude now because that's all we can control. I'm going to continue to teach that to these guys.”
The Nittany Lions will travel to Nebraska for a 9 p.m. tip this Saturday for a game that will be one of its few remaining chances for a conference victory.