Nittany Lions Stumble at Ohio State

Two long scoring droughts prove pivotal as Penn State drops a key conference tilt in Columbus. The loss stings for a bubble team angling for an NCAA tourney bid.

Penn State dominated the action for 24 minutes of a game at Ohio State Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, they were manhandled for the other 16 minutes, enduring an eight-minute scoring slump in the opening half and another eight-minute drought in the second stanza in dropping a 73-59 decision to the Buckeyes.

"We missed some open shots we have to make," PSU coach Ed DeChellis said on his postgame radio show. "…We have to put them in the basket."

With the loss, Penn State dropped to 19-9 on the season and 8-7 in the Big Ten, and saw its NCAA Tournament resume take a serious hit before an ESPN audience. The Lions also had a two-game winning streak snapped.

The Buckeyes, who had lost three straight coming into this one, improved to 18-8 and 8-7.

It is no secret where this game got away from DeChellis and company. They were outscored 37-5 in the two slumps but held a 54-36 advantage in the rest of the game.

The tally was tied 2-2 early before Ohio State scored 17 unanswered points. Down 19-2 with less than 12 minutes to go in the first half, PSU regrouped behind an onslaught of 3-pointers to actually lead by as much as 30-27 before the Buckeyes steadied themselves and took a 32-30 edge into the locker room.

Freshman guard Chris Babb came off the bench to lead the Lion rally, hitting three-straight triples in a 16-0 run. He helped break a triangle and two defense OSU was using against Penn State starting guards Talor Battle and Stanley Pringle.

The second half was equally bizarre. PSU muscled its way out to a 46-41 lead on an Andrew Jones layup with 12:37 to go before the lid went back on the bucket. Over the next eight minutes, Ohio State uncorked an 18-3 run.

Trailing 59-49 after Buckeye rookie center B.J. Mullens made a layup with less than five minutes to go, Penn State never recovered.

Four players reached double figures for the Lions -- Jamelle Cornley (11), Battle (10), Pringle (10) and Jones (10). But no one ever found a rhythm. Babb, for instance, did not make a shot after his early explosion.

Defensively, the Lions did a solid job of limiting Ohio State leading scorer Evan Turner to six points on just four shots. But with all the focus on him, they lost track of Jeremie Simmons and Jon Diebler, who combined for 23 points while making 7 of 13 triples. For his part, Turner came through with eight assists, many setting up the 3-pointers in question.

"We tried to make the other two guys beat us and they did," DeChellis said.

The Lions have three regular-season games left, starting when Indiana visits the Jordan Center Saturday. The action tips at 6 p.m.


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