Against struggling Purdue at Mackey Arena Wednesday night, the struggling Nittany Lions learned what it is like to eat the first punch of the second half.
Down 28-26 at the break, Penn State was staggered when the action resumed, as the Boilermakers unleashed an 18-2 barrage over seven minutes to blow it open before dancing to a 61-47 win.
It was easily the worst in-game stretch of the season for the Lions, who dropped their third straight to fall to 17-8 and 6-6 in the Big Ten. No. 23 Purdue, which lost two straight coming in and was playing without All-Big Ten forward Robbie Hummel, improved to 18-6 and 7-4.
At halftime we're down two, and I thought we had a good chance, DeChellis said on his postgame radio show. But we just couldn't score in the second half, and we let our offense affect our defense. That's something you can never, never do.
Especially troubling for Penn State was not only that it was knocked around early in the second half, but who was doing the punching. Boilermaker senior guard Bobby Riddell, a 5-foot-9 walk-on, hit a pair of 3-pointers and an uncontested layup during the deciding run.
Riddell had a career-high point total (11) at the 14:27 mark of the second half and finished with 13.
The Lions were just as bad on offense. Guard Stanley Pringle scored on a drive early in the second half. Otherwise, he and backcourt mate Talor Battle continued to struggle from the floor. Pringle was 2 of 7 with eight minutes left in the game and finished 2 of 9.
Battle entered the game as the Big Ten's leading scorer (18.2 ppg) but did not tally a point (on 0-of-7 shooting) for the first time this season and only the third time in his career.
Riddell came off the bench and outscored State's starting guards 13-5.
We're not going to win games until we get better guard play, DeChellis said.
Senior forward Jamelle Cornley was -- again -- the only Lion regular who showed up offensively. He had 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Center Andrew Jones played well overall, making 2 of 4 shots and grabbing nine rebounds.
Battle and Pringle could not get anything going in the first half, either. And outside of one burst where the Lions scored eight straight points to take a 20-16 lead, the PSU offense never clicked.
The Boilermakers responded with a 9-0 run to go up 25-20 with 4:13 left, and both teams were sloppy down the stretch as Purdue took a 28-26 lead into the locker room.
Battle and Pringle were a combined 1 of 10 from the field through 20. Fortunately for the Lions, the rest of the team was 9 of 14, as Cornley led the way with eight points.
Penn State has scored 51, 44 and 47 points in its last three games, its three lowest totals of the season. This is the team's first three-game losing streak of the year.
• PSU won the previous meeting between the two teams, 67-64, at the Jordan Center Jan. 6.
Since scorching Michigan State for a career-high 29 points in a road upset Feb. 1, Battle has gone 7 of 38 from the field and 1 of 19 from the arc.
Next up for Penn State is a home date with Minnesota Saturday. The action tips at 1:30 p.m.