Men’s basketball drops another close conference game

Story posted January 22, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Matt Lawrence

Five Spartans scored in double figures, and Michigan State (13-6, 4-2 B1G) outrebounded Penn State (12-7, 0-6 B1G) by 13 in route to a 66-60 win Wednesday night at the Breslin Center.

The Nittany Lions had a shot at their first win in conference play when Michigan State’s Travis Trice (ten points) missed a pair of free throws and D.J. Newbill stepped to the line with 18 seconds and Penn State down four.

But the Big Ten’s leading scorer, despite another 27 point outburst, countered with a pair of misses on the other end.

It was a night that highlighted the two glaring Nittany Lion struggles since falling to Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve: shooting and rebounding.

Both Branden Dawson (12 points, ten rebounds) and Denzel Valentine (11 points, ten rebounds) recorded double-doubles, and the Spartans recorded 16 offensive rebounds. And outside of Newbill, the rest of the Penn State team shot just 10-25.

With the loss of John Johnson, JUCO transfer Devin Foster (six points, five rebounds, two assists) provided a needed spark off the bench for the Nittany Lions. His acrobatic, spinning lay-up midway through the second half tied the game at 39, the closest Penn State had been since the opening tip.

Michigan State jumped out to an early 10-2 lead, with the Nittany Lions shooting 1-10 to open the night. Penn State spent the remainder of the half crawling back, and went into the half down just two, 30-28.

Newbill scored 18 of his game-high 27 in the second half. Brandon Taylor, despite his own sever shooting slump, was the lone other double-digit scorer for Penn State with ten, connecting on 3-of-7 from behind the arc.

The turning point may have come at the under-four minute media time out. Pat Chambers was tagged with a technical foul, rejuvenating the 14,797 in attendance at the Breslin Center. The Spartans reeled off six straight points out of the break, extending the lead to 59-51 with three minutes to play.

Penn State would get as close as four, but the two missed foul shots from Newbill halted the comeback efforts, and the Nittany Lions fell for the sixth consecutive game.

The Nittany Lions look to tab into the win column Saturday, when they return home to the Bryce Jordan Center to take on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights took the first meeting between the new Big Ten foes back on Jan. 4, 50-46. ComRadio’s coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with the Penn State Basketball Pregame Show hosted by Ryan Hickey.

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Matt Lawrence is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact him, email mdl030293@gmail.com.