Hoosiers Season Ends At Conseco

Indianapolis – Tom Crean coached to the very end. The first-year Hoosier coach worked the Conseco Fieldhouse sidelines, never taking a seat. Alternating between crouching at the coach's box boundary and pacing in front of his own team's bench, he barked instructions to his team...

Indianapolis – Tom Crean coached to the very end.

The first-year Hoosier coach worked the Conseco Fieldhouse sidelines, never taking a seat. Alternating between crouching at the coach's box boundary and pacing in front of his own team's bench, he barked instructions to his team and enough displeasure at the officials to earn him his first technical foul of the season.

He coached like a man preparing his team for the NCAA Tournament instead of one who was witnessing his team lose for the 21st time in 22 games.

Mirroring their coach, the short-handed Hoosiers played to the very end as well at the Big Ten Tournament – just not nearly well enough.

Penn State got 22 points from Jamelle Cornley and 16 from Stanley Pringle to whip the Hoosiers 66-51 in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Penn State (22-10) not only advances to the Big Ten quarterfinals against third-seeded Purdue, but picked up a win that all but guarantees it an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Indiana, meanwhile, lost its tenth straight and finished the year 6-25 overall.

Less than two weeks after going on the road and taking the Nittany Lions down to the wire on their Senior Night, the Hoosiers were out of this one early. Cornley knocked down a 3-pointer and a 17-foot jumper to put the Lions up 5-0 in the game's opening 90 seconds. After a Verdell Jones jumper and Kyle Taber tip-in cut the lead to 5-4, Cornley connected on another 3-pointer and then Pringle ripped off 11 points during an 18-4 run that put the Lions up 18, 26-8, midway through the opening half.

"We tried to be aggressive. We tried to come out of the gate, play hard, play with enthusiasm and we used the press to do that," Penn State Coach Ed DeChellis said. "We got off to a good start."

Penn State would own a 15-point halftime lead and extended it to as many as 25 in the second half before a late IU rally cut the margin 15 at the final buzzer.

Despite a lead that never got below nine after the fast start, both DeChellis and his players admitted they never felt comfortable against an Indiana team that had played them close less than two weeks earlier.

"Teams like Indiana are scary because you can get them down early and they'll continue to fight back," Cornley said. "That's a credit to Coach Crean."

Playing a third straight game without Devan Dumes, the Hoosiers were led by Verdell Jones' 23 points. Jones was 7-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-4 from behind the 3-poinat arc while matching his career-high set Sunday at Wisconsin. But the Hoosiers' freshman point guard got virtually no offensive help. Tom Pritchard was just 1-of-12 from the field, Matt Roth only 1-of-7, and no other player on the IU roster scored more than five points.

DeChellis said Dumes' absence is one that likely hurt the Hoosiers a great deal Thursday night.

"They didn't have one of their players, and that's a big difference because he can spread things out and he can get 20 or 25 points," DeChellis said. "I thought that was the guy, 33, for them who could get hot and do some damage."

But Dumes watched the game in a suit on the sidelines, and had to sit idly by as his team wrapped up a season that included the most losses in school history and the fewest wins in a campaign since 1914-15.

Despite those forgettable numbers, Crean said he'll always have a soft spot for his first Indiana team that helped him build the foundation for what figures to be a much brighter future. He said the same goes for an IU fan base that was once again out in force at Conseco Fieldhouse despite the season-long struggles.

"The memories begin with how people supported them," Crean said. "There wasn't winning streaks to bring them to the gym, there wasn't 30-point scorers, there wasn't high-wire dunks…but everyone supported them. To me, that's where the memories will be."

INDIANA 51
Pritchard 1-12 2-4 4, Taber 2-2 1-1 5, Finkelmeier 1-3 0-0 2, Jones 7-11 5-5 23, Williams 2-5 1-2 5, Santa 0-1 0-0 0, Roth 1-7 0-0 3, Moore 2-2 0-0 5, Gambles 0-0 0-0 0, Barnett 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 0-0 0-2 0, Story 1-5 0-2 2, Jobe 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-49 9-16 51.

PENN STATE 66
Cornley 9-12 2-3 22, Jackson 5-10 0-1 10, Jones 1-3 1-2 3, Pringle 6-12 1-2 16, Battle 1-3 0-0 3, Babb 0-4 0-0 0, leiner 0-0 0-2 0, Woodyard 0-0 0-0 0, Brooks 3-6 0-2 6, Morrissey 2-5 0-0 6, Kirkpatrick 0-0 0-0 0, Ott 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 27-55 4-13 66.

3-Pointers: Indiana 6-14 (Jones 4-4, Moore 1-1, Roth 1-4, Finkelmeier 0-1, Story 0-3), Penn State 8-23 (Pringle 3-7, Cornley 2-4, Morrissey 2-4, Battle 1-2, Jackson 0-2, Brooks 0-2, Babb 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 29 (Pritchard 9), Penn State 37 (Jones 8). Assists: Indiana 9 (Finkelmeier 2, Jones 2, Williams 2), Penn State 15 (Battle 6). Turnovers: Indiana 15, Penn State 14. Blocks: Indiana 1, Penn State 3. Steals: Indiana 6, Penn State 10. Attendance: 12,174. Officials: Reggie Greenwood, John Hughes, Dwayne Gladden.

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