Lions continue losing ways

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State’s best chance of knocking off a ranked opponent during the regular season likely came against No. 19 Maryland at the Jordan Center Saturday night. The Terps carried a 2-4 Big Ten road record into the contest.

And they carried a 3-4 B1G road record out of it. The Nittany Lions saw their shot at an upset slip away – quite literally – in the final half minute of what became a 76-73 loss.

After the game, an admittedly frustrated PSU coach Pat Chambers went off on the officials for an offensive foul call on Lion big man Jordan Dickerson with 1:50 left and State trailing 70-68. Dickerson, who had two blocked shots and altered several more earlier in the game, fouled out on the play.

“That’s the worst call I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Chambers said. “They’re pulling Jordan Dickerson down. “… It’s a joke the way we’re officiated.”

But the Lions (15-11, 3-9) still had a chance to win down the stretch.

Down 72-70, guard D.J. Newbill had a steal with 30 seconds left in the game. He brought the ball up the floor, and while attempting to dribble around Maryland big man Evan Smotrycz on the way to the bucket, lost his footing.

Terp Richard Pack came away with the steal and quickly passed to star rookie Mello Trimble, who was fouled by Lion Geno Thorpe. Trimble made both ends of a one-and-one with 20 seconds left, and it proved to be the winning margin.

The Lions had a season-low seven turnovers in the game, but the last one hit at the worst possible time.

“I don’t know if he slipped or what happened there,” Chambers said. “But it hurt us big time.”

Newbill countered with a long 3-pointer five seconds later, giving him a game-high 25 on the night, to bring State within 74-73. But Trimble hit two more free throws and Newbill’s 25-foot attempt at tying just before the buzzer bounced off the rim and over the backboard.

“It’s brutal,” Chambers said of the loss. “These kids are playing their butts off. They’re doing some good things and competing.”

The effort was there on both sides.

Down 34-33 at the break, Maryland opened the second half with a Dez Wells jumper to take its first lead of the game. It began a 22-8 run that featured four 3-pointers (two by Jared Nickens, one by Jake Layman and one by Wells).

The Terps were 4 of 5 from the arc during the run, which allowed them to take a 55-42 lead. Chambers called timeout with 14:07 left in the game – his second of the final half – and some of the less hearty souls in attendance started heading for the exits.

They’ll probably regret it.

Penn State refocused and roared back behind Newbill and forward Brandon Taylor. Taylor’s 3-pointer with 8:57 to go tied the score a 60-60, and it was tight the rest of the way.

“They came right back at us,” said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, whose team improved to 21-5 and 9-4.

There was an element of adding injury to insult for the Lions. Shortly before Dickerson’s offensive foul, Taylor appeared to take and elbow in the head. But the officials reviewed it during a dead ball and decided there was no foul on the Terps.

Then, after Dickerson’s foul, Trimble hit a driving layup. Taylor, who has struggled with knee issues all year, was hurt on the play and left the game for good.

Chambers hopes he’ll be able to play soon.

In PSU’s only remaining games against ranked opponents, it will face No. 5 Wisconsin at the BJC Wednesday and No. 23 Ohio State there March 4. Both teams smoked the Lions earlier this year.

MARYLAND (21-5): Layman 4-11 2-4 13, Dodd 2-3 0-0 4, Trimble 4-6 12-12 20, Pack 2-3 0-1 6, Wells 7-10 7-7 22, Smotrycz 1-4 0-0 3, Wiley 0-1 0-0 0, Nickens 2-7 0-0 6, Cekovsky 0-0 0-2 0, Ram 0-0 0-0 0, Graham 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-47 21-26 76.

PENN STATE (15-11): Taylor 4-13 1-1 11, Dickerson 1-2 0-0 2, Newbill 8-17 6-9 25, Thorpe 6-10 3-3 17, Garner 1-8 2-2 5, Banks 1-3 0-0 3, Jack 1-1 0-0 2, Travis 3-6 1-2 7, Moore 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 25-60 14-19 73.

Halftime-Penn St. 34-33. 3-Point Goals-Maryland 9-19 (Layman 3-5, Pack 2-3, Nickens 2-6, Wells 1-1, Smotrycz 1-3, Trimble 0-1), Penn St. 9-23 (Newbill 3-5, Thorpe 2-3, Taylor 2-8, Banks 1-2, Garner 1-5). Fouled Out-Dickerson. Rebounds-Maryland 31 (Dodd, Trimble, Wells 6), Penn St. 32 (Garner, Thorpe 5). Assists-Maryland 10 (Trimble 4), Penn St. 11 (Newbill 4). Total Fouls-Maryland 18, Penn St. 21. A-8,303.