Lions Fall to Hoosiers

Curious last-second shot proves fatal in key Big Ten road loss to Indiana. State will look to rebound vs. Northwestern at the Jordan Center Saturday.

There is something to be said for a player knowing his role on a team. And for more than 39 minutes at Indiana Wednesday night, Penn State point guard Ben Luber played his role to perfection, not concerning himself with scoring while calmly running the Nittany Lion offense.

In the final 15 seconds, however, with PSU trailing 67-65 and in possession of the ball, Luber stepped out of character. With only three points on 1-of-3 shooting to that juncture, he took the game into his own hands, launching a wild 27-footer with Hoosier Errek Suhr in his face. The shot was not even close.

Lion coach Ed DeChellis, whose team was looking to wrap up at least a .500 record on the season and the first three-game Big Ten road winning streak in school history, threw up his hands in frustration. IU's Roderick Wilmont rebounded and was quickly fouled, and he made both free throws to end it.

Penn State is now 13-12 on the season and 5-9 in the league. Indiana, which lost five straight coming in, including a game at the Jordan Center a week earlier, is now 14-10 and 6-8 in its final season under Mike Davis.

“We didn't get shots we wanted, we didn't execute, we broke things off,” DeChellis said of the final minute in general on his postgame radio show. “… All of a sudden, we didn't trust one another. We wanted to do things by ourselves.”

The irony, of course, is that this game was all about 3-point shooting. Indiana was 15 of 33 from the arc, as senior Marshall Strickland cracked the 1,000-point mark for his career by nailing an amazing 7 of 11 triples for 22 points.

But Penn State was strong from deep, as well, going 10 of 24, including Geary Claxton's 3-of-6 effort that, along with eight free throws, helped him tally 19 points. Meanwhile, Travis Parker overcame a scoreless first half to score 15 points to go along with nine rebounds. The duo pounded IU inside relentlessly in the second half, and PSU was long into the double bonus by the time the final minute rolled around.

On the possession that ended in Luber's wild shot, DeChellis said the idea was to get the ball to one of his horses to score inside or get to the line. Then Luber cut loose before the team had made a single pass on the possession. Even if it went, the Hoosiers would have had plenty of time to score themselves.

While the play was the definitive turning point of a back-and-forth affair, it was hardly the only reason PSU lost. Indiana destroyed Penn State on the glass, 38-26, and came up with 15 offensive boards as the missed triples bounced long over the Lion zone. State's 3-point defense was terrible, as well.

Both were keys to the game from the Penn State coaching staff heading in.

“We didn't do either,” DeChellis said, “especially rebounding the basketball.”

Penn State has two regular-season games remaining — Northwestern at home Saturday then a trip to Iowa next Wednesday. Given that the league-leading Hawkeyes are 15-0 at home this year, the weekend matchup with the Wildcats looms large if the Lions hope to ensure themselves of a winning record heading into Big Tens.

“This was a golden opportunity,” DeChellis said. “We just didn't capitalize.”


• Luber was not on the Penn State Radio Network postgame show.

• Blame the lopsided rebounding margin on the PSU guards, who had six boards between them despite all of the long bounces off the rim. Wilmont and A.J. Ratliff, a pair of 6-3 guards, had seven each and the IU guards combined for 22.

• The Lions remain winless in 13 all-time games against Indiana in Bloomington.

• Saturday's game tips at 3:30 p.m. It will be Senior Day for the team's lone senior, Parker.


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