It's kind of easy to determine which camp Penn State falls into these days. The Nittany Lions dropped a 67-61 decision to Indiana at the Jordan Center Thursday night, remaining winless in the Big Ten and extending their losing streak to six games.
We have to make a play we have to believe we can win, junior guard Talor Battle said. But we just can't make a play, and that's so stressful.
Battle's use of the word we there was generous, because for the second straight loss he made more than his share of clutch plays, this time finishing with a game-high 22 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals. But various teammates came unglued at the worst possible moments.
Penn State played uninspired ball in the first half and trailed for all but a few seconds before Battle made a layup with 13:56 left in the game to cut the Hoosier lead to 40-39. Then Lion guard Chris Babb was fouled, and made one of two to knot it 40-40 12 seconds later.
State had played smart, tough ball in grinding back from nine points down, and seemed on the verge of seizing momentum hen Verdell Jones missed a jumper after Babb's tying free throw.
At the time, Babb, who was playing with a broken finger on his shooting hand, was 1 of 5 from the arc in the game and had made 1 of his last 11 triples on the season. Yet with 24 seconds left on the shot clock, and before PSU had really gotten into its offense, he launched a 23-footer with a man in his face. It missed.
Jones countered with a short jumper to give the Hoosiers a 42-40 lead.
Next time down, Penn State got a triple attempt from an even worse option. Forward D.J. Jackson, who has made one 3-pointer this decade and was 0-for the previous three games, pumped up a deep ball with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. It missed.
Two cracks at the lead and not only did Battle NOT get a look, but the shots PSU did get were awful.
Everyone's trying to do something instead of letting it come to them, Lion coach Ed DeChellis said. Sometimes, it's just not a very smart decision at that point in time.
Added Battle, who was frustrated that his club did not even attempt to get the ball to the hoop when the game was on the line, We just can't continue to sit out there and miss threes. As a team, the Lions were 4 of 22 from the arc on this night.
Jackson's miss was followed by a triple from Indiana's Devan Dumes and the Hoosiers had some breathing room again, leading 45-40.
Late in the game, Battle led another charge, scoring five points himself and dishing to center Andrew Ott for a layup as the Lions climbed within 60-57 with 4:15 showing.
To that point in the half, State was crushing IU on the glass. The Hoosiers had exactly one offensive rebound in the period. But Dumes missed a 3-pointer and Christian Watford grabbed the offensive board. The ball eventually found its way to Jones for another 3-pointer.
After an empty Lion possession, Hoosier Tom Pritchard missed a jumper. Waterford rebounded again. Jones made a 2-pointer. It was 65-57 with 1:41 left and the game was effectively over.
And Battle was ticked.
We give up an offense rebound and they score then we do it again, he said. We just have not made plays down the stretch this year, and that goes for everyone, as a team defensively or one guy hitting a shot.
DeChellis wasn't bragging when he noted PSU has outrebounded every Big Ten opponent it has faced this year. Overall, it punished Indiana on the glass, 41-35, including a season-high 18 offensive rebounds.
That was all off-set by poor decision-making. And untimely mistakes.
That's kind of been the story, the coach said.
Penn State is 8-10 and 0-6 in the Big Ten. IU is 9-9 and 3-3.
Rookie wing Bill Edwards made his first career start. It didn't go so well, as he finished with no points, four rebounds and four turnovers.
Ott had his best game as a Lion, with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Penn State is back on the road Sunday, facing No. 13 Wisconsin in Madison. It starts a stretch of three road trips in four games.