Penn State was in position to upset No. 19 Maryland at the Jordan Center Saturday night. Then it all slipped away.
Down 72-70, Nittany Lion 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 Melo 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 in a game that ended 76-73.
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 of Newbill. 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 at 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.
TAYLOR HURT AGAIN
Taylor was knocked from the game with 1:22 to go when Trimble fell after making a shot and rolled into his injured right knee. Taylor has been wearing a heavy brace on the joint since what has been described as a sprain caused him to miss two recent games.
After Saturday's action, Chambers said he did not think the latest issue was serious. He finished with 11 points Saturday.
Thorpe had 17 points, including 12 in the first half, and five rebounds. He did it on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, 2-of-3 from the arc and 3-of-3 from the line.
Thorpe was only two points off his career high, set earlier this season against Duquesne.
He also limited Trimble to six shots (and four makes). However, Trimble did go to the line 12 times, making all of them, to finish with 20.
PSU transfer forward Jon Graham went off for a career-high 16 points in the Terps' 64-58 win over the Lions in College Park Feb. 4. It marked the first time this season he scored more than eight points.
The Lions showed a bit more backbone against their former teammate Saturday. Graham was a non-factor in the game, with two points and one rebound in only 11 minutes played.
Penn State plays host to No. 5 Wisconsin Wednesday. The game tips at 7 p.m. and can be seen on BTN.
The Badgers smoked the Lions 89-72 in Madison Dec. 31. It was the Big Ten opener for both teams.