STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State Basketball lost at home to Northwestern Tuesday night 76-72.
Here are the three key takeaways explaining how and why the Nittany Lions fell to 8-8 and most importantly 2-3, below .500 in conference.
Three Point Shooting
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Nittany Lions continue to simply struggle shooting the ball from deep. As a team, Penn State was a dismal 3-17 from beyond the arc, a sour 17.6%. Take out D’Marco Dunn’s 2-3 night, the rest of the team went 1-14, highlighted by Zach Hicks 0-6. In a game where otherwise offensive performance was everything you could ask for (46.3% from the field, 80% on 24 free throws, and 9 offensive rebounds), Penn State simply needed to hit a few threes. Coach Rhoades said one was rushed, one was closely contested and the rest were all good shots. “You gotta get in the gym and shoot”, Rhoades said, when asked about the continuous poor shooting by Nittany Central contributor and Shots Gotta Fall Podcast host, Steve Travis. Time and time again, this team has proven they aren’t capable of doing that this season.
Penn State Basketball actually committed one less foul than Northwestern (17-16) but the timing of the fouls that did occur really hurt. There was only foul called in the first almost 6 minutes of the game, but Penn State became a little foul happy in the second half. And perhaps the most important foul in a game where the refs likely became too involved was a technical on Head Coach Mike Rhoades. After a tough call went against Penn State, Rhoades was certainly trying to inspire the troops but it couldn’t have worked less. Northwestern immediately went on a 15-0 run, creating a deficit that the Nittany Lions never could come back from. Rhoades spoke in the post game press conference and was very clear he was not trying to get the technical foul. He very diplomatically said how he disagreed with the call. ‘Obvious is obvious’, he said twice.
Where Will The Help Come From?
As discussed on this week’s Shots Gotta Fall Podcast, the bench for Penn State just isn’t enough. The Nittany Lions are running essentially a 7.5 man roster (counting Leo O’Boyle as the half) and when you have performances like Puff Johnson’s 6 points and 3 fouls in 17 minutes, Zach Hicks 2 points on 25 minutes and Ace Baldwin’s 6 points in 38 minutes (although he did tie a Penn State program record with 8 steals). With little to no contributions from Favour Aire (2 minutes, 1 foul), Jameel Brown (DNP), and Demetrius Lilley (DNP), all 7 (or 8) players that see the floor must contribute for Penn State to find a way to win. Penn State travels to West Lafayette on Saturday for a 2:15 pm showdown with the Purdue Boilermakers on Fox Sports.