Mistakes throughout doom Nittany Lions
Big Ten Men: Wisconsin 64, Penn State 63
UNIVERSITY PARK — It was fitting that Penn State’s comeback from a 17-point deficit against Wisconsin died from the 3-point line. With two seconds left and a one point needed to complete the comeback, Tony Carr pulled up in front of a Wisconsin defender from beyond the arc and forced an off-balance shot.
“I thought we had the right matchup,” Chambers said. “I’m going to trust that decision.”
The shot clanked off the rim and time expired. Senior Shep Garner clarified why the Lions dropped their second Big Ten matchup.
“We didn’t lose the game on that shot,” Garner said. “A lot of mistakes from start to finish.”
The Lions finished 2-14 from the 3-point line and 20-56 from the field in a 64-63 loss to Wisconsin in the Bryce Jordan on Monday night.
It was clear Penn State didn’t have any answers for the Wisconsin defense when Mike Watkins took a shot from beyond the arc midway through the second half.
The 6-9 forward fared about as well as his teammates had fared from the 3-point line on his attempt, which fell a few feet of the hoop.
The miss summed up the Lions’ frustration. Carr, the team’s offensive leader, finished 5-22 from the field.
“We made life hard for them,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “Specifically Tony Carr.”
Wisconsin defenders teamed up against the guard, but Carr had few options. Penn State’s bench recorded only one point.
Watkins was the only reason the game was close against the Wisconsin team that had struggled so much this season. He recorded 22 points and seven blocks against a very talent forward in Ethan Happ.
Watkins played the best five minutes of basketball in his career in the opening five minutes. The redshirt-sophomore shut down the Happ, who recorded only nine points, and commanded the paint.
“Mike was huge today,” Garner said. “I could tell he was going to have big day from the very start. We need that Mike.”
Watkins scored eight of the team’s first 10 points and made his first six shot attempts.
Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson mimicked Watkins’ performance, minus a few alley-oops. Just like Watkins, the junior led their team at the half with 14 points.
The Badgers set a slow pace. They let each possession bleed to the final seconds. The formula worked against the Lions.
“We tried to speed the game up at some points,” Garner said. “Wisconsin does that and it works for them.”
The pace picked up towards the end of the first half, but that pace also favored the Badgers. The Lions missed their last six shot attempts as the Badgers connected on their final five.
The Lions’ 25-first half points were the least of the season.
It didn’t get any better from there for the Lions’ offense. Their scoring drought at the midpoint of the second half gave Wisconsin a 17-point lead, which seemed insurmountable considering the lethargic pace of the contest.
In the final minutes, Penn State began their crawl back into the game. The effort started at the free-throw line, where the Lions recorded six unanswered points. The momentum translated to better defense as the Badgers lead was chipped away.
The crowd didn’t believe it until Garner nailed a deep three, which had been at a premium throughout the contest.
“I just knew I had to start something,” Garner said.
His shot cut the lead to three, but it would be the last big conversion for the Lions.
The Lions will take on George Washington at home on Saturday.
WISCONSIN (4-5): Ford 2-3 0-1 5, Happ 3-12 3-4 9, Trice 2-9 5-6 9, Davison 0-4 0-0 0, Iverson 7-8 2-4 16, Reuvers 5-10 0-0 11, Pritzl 1-2 3-4 6, King 3-4 0-0 8. Totals 23-52 13-19 64.
PENN ST. (7-3): Watkins 9-13 4-6 22, Stevens 1-7 2-2 4, Carr 5-22 6-6 16, Garner 3-7 6-7 13, Reaves 2-5 2-2 7, Harrar 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-1 1-2 1, Bostick 0-0 0-0 0, Wheeler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 21-25 63.
Halftime–Wisconsin 31-25. 3-Point Goals–Wisconsin 5-11 (King 2-2, Pritzl 1-1, Ford 1-2, Reuvers 1-2, Trice 0-2, Davison 0-2), Penn St. 2-14 (Reaves 1-3, Garner 1-4, Watkins 0-1, Stevens 0-3, Carr 0-3). Fouled Out–Happ, Davison. Rebounds–Wisconsin 33 (Happ 10), Penn St. 31 (Carr 9). Assists–Wisconsin 13 (Trice, Happ 3), Penn St. 12 (Reaves 5). Total Fouls–Wisconsin 23, Penn St. 16. A–6,730 (15,261).