Lions Go Cold, Lose Big

Horrendous shooting night offsets positives as Penn State is ultimately hammered by Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Penn State coach Ed DeChellis is a firm believer that even when a team is not shooting particularly well in a given game, it can give itself a chance to win by taking care of business with defense and rebounding.

Of course, when taking that stance, he could not have imagined how poorly his Nittany Lions would shoot against Maryland at the Jordan Center Wednesday night. State hit only 20.6 percent of its shots -- and went 9 of 40 in what was otherwise a solid first half -- in a performance that degenerated into a 62-39 loss.

PSU fell to 5-2 following its first loss in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in the last four games. The Terrapins improved to 6-2.

The Lions were 14 of 68 from the floor in the game. They trailed by only three early in the second half but slowly unraveled as the shots continued to miss.

“That gets to be frustrating,” DeChellis said. “The kids worked hard and competed, but just didn't make enough shots to get us going.”

Especially in the first half, when State had a chance to seize control of the game.

PSU missed 31 shots in the half, 13 of them 3-pointers. And it wasn't just that the Lions were missing, but how they were missing -- air balls and bricks on open looks were the order of the evening.

“I know we had some good shots,” said guard Talor Battle, who tallied a game-high 21 points to outscore all of is teammates. “(But) we air-balled about six or seven shots in the first half alone. When you play a team of their caliber, you just have to put the ball in the hole.”

In most respects, Penn State played well in the opening half, jumping out to a 7-0 lead while forcing six Terrapin turnovers in the first six minutes. Jeff Brooks' tomahawk dunk made it 9-2 at the 13:46 mark and the crowd went nuts.

Maryland had only one shot by that point.

But State's pattern of poor shooting had already been established. The Lions attempted 13 field goals by then but made just four.

And it only got worse. Penn State launched an eye-popping 40 shots in the first half -- a dozen more than its per-half average coming in -- but made only nine. The Lions were 1 of 14 from the arc through 20 minutes.

“We came out well, running the floor and playing defense,” Brooks said. The next thing you know, it was a cold streak. We couldn't make a basket.”

So Maryland, which got off only 16 shots in the first half (making eight), was not only able to keep it close, but actually led 26-20 at the break. A big reason for that was the Terps' ability to get to the free-throw line, where they made 8 of 12 shots.

PSU was also hurt by the fact that starting forwards Brooks and D.J. Jackson were limited to nine and 11 minutes in the half, respectively, due to foul trouble. In their absence, the Lions got nothing from the bench, which went a collective dear-in-the-headlights-like 0 of 12 from the floor through 20 minutes, including an 0-of-5 showing by rookie guard Taran Buie.

“We did feel we had more guys playing and if we could get to their bench, that would be a good thing for us,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said.

“We didn't get anything off the bench,” DeChellis added. “We had no answers off the bench.”

State's inability to build a lead in the first half proved fatal in the second, as Williams' team hit its stride while the Lions continued to struggle from the floor. PSU made only three of its first 13 shots in the second half in falling behind 49-30. By the midway point, Brooks and Jackson -- the team's second- and third-leading scorers on the season -- both had four fouls and were back on the pine.

“The wheels came off in the second half,” DeChellis said.

Many in the season-high crowd of 9,078 began heading for the exits. It was a smart strategy. PSU was actually worse from the field in the second half than the first, making 5 of 28 shots.

The only Lion to make more than two field goals on the night was Battle, who finished 7 of 21 from the floor. The Terps rotated multiple defenders on him.

Forward Jordan Williams led a well-balanced Maryland attack with 15 points and 11 rebounds. He was 6 of 10 from the floor.

By comparison, the eight Nittany Lions not named Talor Battle who playing in the game made seven field goals on 47 attempts. Buie was 0 of 9. Staring guard Tim Frazier was 1 of 8. Jackson was 1 of 7.

“It comes down to putting the ball in the basket,” Battle said. “Unfortunately, we didn't do that tonight. We have to move on.”

SHORT SHOTS

• Battle struggled with cramps in both legs in the game but still logged a team-high 34 minutes. This outing was Penn State's third in six days.

• Brooks was 2 of 9 from the floor but pulled down 10 rebounds and had a couple of blocks.

• The game was televised nationally and Penn State's bench players all looked they were overwhelmed by it. Buie had multiple air balls and forward Billy Oliver played 21 minutes and was 1 of 5 from the floor with no rebounds and three fouls.

• Penn State had 20 offensive rebounds but only eight second-chance points.

• Maryland did not attempt its 40th shot (remember, PSU had 40 in the first half) until there was 5:47 left in the game.

• The Terrapins blocked nine shots, but no one player had more than two.

• Maryland outscored Penn State 34-18 in the paint, including a 22-6 edge in the second half.

• Next up for Penn State: Duquesne visits the Jordan Center Saturday for a 6 p.m. tip.

MEDIA FILES

Hear Ed DeChellis here:
Hear Talor Battle and Jeff Brooks here:
Hear Gary Williams here:
See the box score here:


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