Game Grades: Maryland
After Penn State upset the 13th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies on Tuesday night, the Nittany Lions went on the road for their first Big Ten conference game of the season against No. 24 Maryland.
Penn State battled all game long, but Maryland hit some big shots down the stretch to hold on for a 66-59 win. Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions showed some encouraging signs that they can be competitive against higher-level opponents in the conference.
Let’s give out game grades for Penn State in this hard-fought game against Maryland:
Out of the 59 points, 51 of them were scored by three guys. Forward Lamar Stevens led the scoring for the Nittany Lions with 19 points on 9 of 24 shooting but missed some key shots in the final minutes. He was really the only Nittany Lion that had some success getting to the basket.
Guard Josh Reaves scored 17 points, making three 3-point shots in the first half as Penn State built up an eight-point lead. The half ended with the Nittany Lions clicking to a 31-30 lead.
However, Maryland made some defensive adjustments in the second half and shut out Reaves. The shots the senior guard made in the first half, he missed in the second half.
Another bright spot for the Penn State offense was the continued emergence of freshman guard Rasir Bolton. Bolton got off to a cold start with only four points in the first half, but in the second he was looking for his shot and scored 11 points for a final of 15 points for the game.
Penn State relied a lot on isolations and jump shots and only got to the free throw line six times compared to Maryland’s 25 times. In addition, the Nittany Lions low post game was nonexistent and shut down by Maryland’s long, athletic big men. The Nittany Lions will have to find a way to get more guys involved in the offense.
Defensively, the undersized Nittany Lions gave the Terrapins fits all game long. Penn State forced 17 turnovers with 12 steals. Reaves and guard Jamari Wheeler both were active and each had four steals. With the game on the line, Penn State played great defense, but junior veteran leader Anthony Cowan Jr. for the Terrapins hit two deep three-pointers over tight Nittany Lion defense.
As mentioned earlier, Maryland was able to draw fouls and get to the free throw line. The dynamic frontcourt duo of Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith combined for 28 points and 21 rebounds.
Penn State big men John Harrar and Mike Watkins had their hands full with these two guys all game long. The biggest difference of the game was Maryland advantage in the paint over Penn State.
Head coach Pat Chambers managed the game very well for the Nittany Lions. Chambers called two timely timeouts during the game that halted Maryland runs, which Penn State turned into leads in both halves.
Chambers had his guys ready to play, and the team gave great effort for the entire 40 minutes. If Chambers can have his team ready to play like they did Saturday, Penn State has a good shot at beating another high-quality opponent against Indiana.
Matthew McClure is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email email@example.com