Nittany Lions Fall at Purdue

Morrissey has a big day in helping Penn State rally from as many as 15 points down, but his teammates can't find him when the game is on the line.

Danny Morrissey had an extremely hot hand in Penn State's game at Purdue Saturday, scoring a team-high 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor and a 6-of-7 showing from the arc. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the guard's teammates couldn't find that hot hand when the game was on the line.

Down 58-55 with less than 40 seconds remaining, reserve guards Ben Luber and Mike Walker took 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Both missed. Purdue responded with a score after each errant shot and eventually walked away with a 64-60 win.

The Lions fell to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers, led by fifth-year seniors Carl Landry (24 points) and David Teague (20), improved to 12-4 and 1-1.

Penn State managed to make a game of it in the second half despite trailing by as many as 15 points and despite leading scorers Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley being held to a combined 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting.

Down 44-30 with 14 minutes left in the game, PSU unleashed a 15-3 run in which Morrissey scored nine points, including a rare four-point play. It was tight the rest of the way.

The Boilermakers looked like they might break it open when they took a 52-45 lead on a Keaton Grant triple with 6:04 left, but Luber and Walker responded with a pair of 3-pointers to cut it to 52-51 at 4:30.

The Lions were plagued by mistakes from that point. Down 54-51, Claxton missed the front end of a 1-and-1 (as a team PSU was 2 of 7 from the line in the game). Down 54-53, State forced a missed shot by Marcus Green. Cornley seemed to have the rebound but it slipped out of his hands to Landry, who made an uncontested layup.

Then, down 58-55, Luber rushed a 3-point try and missed. Teague rebounded and was fouled and made one of two. Next time down the floor, Walker launched a triple four seconds into the 35-second shot clock. It missed, and Chris Kramer rebounded and was fouled. He made one of two to boost the lead to 60-55 with 25 seconds remaining.

Gordon Watt grabbed the offensive rebound on the miss, and Landry was eventually fouled and made a pair to put the game away. As fate would have it, on PSU's following possession Morrissey did get a shot from the arc and nailed it. But it was much too little too late.

“I think our kids fought; we had our chances,” PSU coach Ed DeChellis said on his postgame radio show. “I kept telling them at timeouts, if we keep this close, we'll have a chance to win. We did have chances. We just made mistakes.”

Penn State's strategy going in was to use a 2-3 zone to clamp down on the high-scoring Landry in the paint. And while Teague found the zone to his liking — he had 13 points in the game's first nine minutes — overall the Lions were in good shape, holding Landry scoreless and enjoying a 17-15 lead when Cornley made a short jumper at the 11:12 mark of the first half.

But from there, everything unraveled. Landry didn't get a shot until the midway point of the half, and he missed that. Then his teammates began finding him down low, and he hit three straight shots and three free throws. He also drew a pair of quick fouls from Lion center Brandon Hassell, sending State's best post defender to the bench with three fouls overall.

Offensively, the Lions could not make a basket. The result was a 17-2 run that gave Purdue a 34-19 lead before Morrissey hit a 3-pointer just before the break.

Morrissey was obviously a key to PSU's second-half run. But Claxton was a factor, too, even though he could not find his shot. He finished with a game-high 14 rebounds to help the Lions pound Purdue in that department, 33-24. Claxton also had three assists and a pair of steals.

The one glaring weakness for PSU was in the post. After holding Landry in check early, Hassell and reserve Milos Bogetic struggled. They finished with a combined two points (on 1-of-5 shooting) to go along with three rebounds against five turnovers and eight fouls.


• Starting point guard David Jackson was 4 of 6 from the floor and 2 of 3 from the arc.

• Landry was 12 of 15 from the line. As a team, the Boilermakers were 16 of 23. Penn State's power players — Claxton and Cornley — shot a combined five free throws, making one.

• Kramer, a freshman guard, had six steals for Purdue.

• Penn State has a bye this week before playing host to Indiana next Saturday.


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