Lions pick bad night to go cold

UNIVERSITY PARK — It was hard to believe Penn State was two points away from tying Indiana with 2 seconds left on the clock in the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday night.

The Lions were bad on offense and awful at the free throw line. But the fact it came down to a single possession was improbable to say the least.

The Lions fumbled around on their last opportunity and lost, 64-62, to go 0-2 in Big Ten play.

“Right now, they’re not going,” coach Patrick Chambers said of his team’s shooting.

The Lions were 11-of-26 from the free throw line. Some of those lost 15 free points undoubtedly cost them their first Big Ten win. They were also 9-of-28 on layups.

“That can really deflate you and play games with your head,” Chambers said.

The Lions’ offense lacked the confident swagger of their defense. At times, the inability to come up with a legitimate scoring opportunity prevented them from capitalizing on big forced turnovers.

“We need to take those turnovers and they need to be baskets,” Chambers said. “They need to be points.”

Indiana star freshman guard Romeo Langford tied the Lions’ freshman Rasir Bolton for game-high with 17 points.

“He was the deciding factor in the game,” Chambers said of Langford.

The Lions set a scrappy tone to start the game and jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Within five minutes of the game, the Lions outrebounded the Hoosiers, 10-1.

“We were soft around the rim,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said of his team’s start in the paint.

But the Lions went 0-for-6 from the field over a stretch of almost six minutes to erase their hot start. The Hoosiers took a 13-10 lead.

“I thought that we didn’t capitalize,” the Lions’ Lamar Stevens said. “That’s just things we’ve got to clean up to be where we want to be.”

Mike Watkins, who missed the start of the season due to off-court reasons, was effective when he wasn’t tired. It didn’t take much for the big man to get tired.

“We’re trying to get him reacclimated,” Chambers said.

The Lions trailed the Hoosiers throughout most of the first half as Langford started to dominate the perimeter. Hurting the Lions was terrible free throw shooting. By halftime, the Lions were 4-14 from the free throw line.

The Hoosiers took a 34-30 lead into the halftime break.

Things got ugly for the Lions offense after the halftime break as the Hoosiers quickly grew their lead to 14.

The Lions implemented a press defense as the game got further out of reach, but it was solving a problem that didn’t exist. The real problem was obvious.

Despite those struggles, the Lions were fighting for the lead with 7 minutes left. The Lions cut the Hoosiers lead, 54-50, and looked like they might turn the corner on offense. Indiana took another big lead but the Lions somehow chipped away at that too.

At no point did the Lions’ offense inspire confidence, which is a testament to how good their defense can be.

On the back of Bolton, the Lions cut the lead to what was eventually the final score. A bad inbound play erased the chance for a final shot and Indiana hit the road with a win.

Penn State gets back into non-conference play this Saturday at home against Colgate.

INDIANA (7-2)

Smith 0-4 0-0 0, Morgan 5-12 0-0 10, Langford 6-13 3-3 17, Durham 3-5 4-6 12, Phinisee 4-9 3-3 12, Davis 1-1 0-0 2, Fitzner 1-4 0-1 2, Moore 1-1 1-1 3, McRoberts 0-1 0-0 0, Green 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 23-55 11-14 64.

PENN ST. (4-4)

Stevens 5-13 2-4 12, Harrar 1-2 3-6 5, Dread 4-10 2-2 12, Bolton 6-14 3-4 17, Reaves 1-9 1-6 3, Buttrick 0-1 0-0 0, Watkins 3-4 0-3 6, Jones 2-5 0-1 5, Wheeler 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-62 11-26 62.

Halftime–Indiana 34-30. 3-Point Goals–Indiana 7-18 (Durham 2-3, Green 2-3, Langford 2-5, Phinisee 1-2, McRoberts 0-1, Fitzner 0-2, Morgan 0-2), Penn St. 5-21 (Bolton 2-5, Dread 2-7, Jones 1-3, Buttrick 0-1, Reaves 0-1, Wheeler 0-1, Stevens 0-3). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Indiana 41 (Smith 9), Penn St. 40 (Stevens 10). Assists–Indiana 12 (Phinisee 5), Penn St. 11 (Reaves 3). Total Fouls–Indiana 21, Penn St. 16. A–8,972

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