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Penn State basketball keeps tournament hopes alive, downs OSU

On Thursday, the Penn State Nittany Lions added a much-needed quad one win to their resume.

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Penn State basketball
Mar 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett (22) dribbles the ball while Ohio State Buckeyes guard Jamari Wheeler (55) defends in the first half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBUS, OH — After a season-saving victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the Penn State basketball team (17-11, 8-9 Big Ten) traveled to Columbus to take on the struggling Ohio State Buckeyes ( 11-17, 3-14 Big Ten) in another crucial conference matchup. The Nittany Lions’ tournament hopes are not lost just yet as Penn State escaped with a win — the Lions’ 17th of the season.

This win was massive for the Nittany Lions seeing as, according to the NET rankings, the Buckeyes are still a quad-one team at home. Penn State came into the matchup ranked No. 58 in the NET — Ohio State was ranked No. 67.

Penn State basketball hangs in during the first half

Within the game’s first five minutes, the Penn State basketball team took an 11-8 lead behind some impressive 3-point shooting. Just minutes into the game, the Nittany Lions broke the team’s record for 3-pointers made in a single season (295) — the bucket was made by super senior guard Cameron Wynter, who finished the first half with 14 points.

With 15:47 remaining in the half, Penn State’s Seth Lundy made it a 12-8 game before Ohio State brought the game back within two with a pair of free throws. The Buckeyes regained the lead a minute later with a deep 3-ball, yet Penn State answered with a three of its own, making it a 15-13 ball game with 14 minutes remaining.

The Nittany Lions’ lead stretched as far as six points within the first ten minutes of play (19-13), though as it did all night, Ohio State managed to bring the game back within three and keep some life on their sideline. Penn State’s biggest flaw was its inability to stop Ohio State star Brice Sensibaugh, who finished the first half with 14 points.

With 8:25 remaining, Ohio State’s Sensibaugh drilled a jumper, which gave the Buckeyes a 24-23 lead — the Buckeyes’ third lead of the game. On the following possession, Penn State’s Seth Lundy gave PSU the lead right back before Ohio State took it once again on its next possession. The two traded blows over their next few possessions — in all, the game saw 12 lead changes throughout the first half alone.

Ohio State pushed its lead to four before Seth Lundy sunk a 3-pointer to keep Penn State in it. Two possessions later, Cam Wynter drilled a three to tie the game at 35  with three minutes remaining. He added another pair on his next trip down the court — which was answered by an Ohio State alley-oop. With two minutes left in the half, the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes remained deadlocked at 37-37.

As the half winded down, an offense-heavy game saw a scoring drought as neither team managed to score since Ohio State tied it up at the 2:09 mark.

First half stats

  • Lundy, Wynter combine for 25 of Penn State’s 37 points.
  • PSU shoots 46.4% from the floor, 54.5% from 3-point range.
  • 49% of Penn State’s points come from the long ball, 38% from close, and 14% from the charity stripe.
  • At the half: Penn State 37, Ohio State 37

Gritty second half leads to Penn State victory

To open the second half of play, Penn State’s Cam Wynter sunk a 3-pinter to give PSU a 40-37 lead before Sensibaugh brought the game back within one. Early on, it was clear that a gritty first half would bleed into the second half as both teams battled for every small advantage they could find.

The Nittany Lion lead was pushed to four, though an Ohio State 3-pointer kept the game within one with 17:30 remaining. A goaltend on Ohio State’s end gave PSU a 45-42 lead — Ohio State drilled another jumper and again cut Penn State’s lead to one. Jalen Pickett, Penn State’s saving grace as of late, managed to burry a jumper of his own at the other end, though OSU added a layup on their following possession, making it a 48-46 Nittany Lion lead.

The two teams traded blows on nearly every possession throughout the first five minutes of the second half. A Lundy 3-pointer made it a 53-49 game, Penn State grabbed a massive defensive rebound and managed to make it a six-point game with a pair of free throws with just under 14 minutes remaining.

The Nittany Lions’ two-possession lead did not last long, as the Buckeyes scored four (field goal and two free throws) unanswered, bringing the game back within two with 13:17 remaining. Seconds later, the game was tied at 55-55 after OSU sunk another layup — the momentum that Penn State basketball had acquired was short-lived.

With 11:23 remaining, Ohio State took a two-point lead, another short-lived lead, as Penn State’s Cam Wynter sunk a layup and was fouled on the following possession — Wynter missed his free throw, though the game was tied once again. On Penn State’s next offensive possession, Wynter gave the Nittany Lions a 59-57 lead.

As the game entered its final stages, Penn State trailed the Buckeyes by one. A back-and-forth of massive baskets had Value City Arena on its feet as the Buckeyes came roaring back. With 5:46 to go, Jalen Pickett kept Penn State basketball in the game with a miraculous layup that, for some reason, was not a foul.

Pickett hit a series of crucial shots to follow, giving Penn State a 70-65 lead before Ohio State answered and made it a three-point game just before the final TV timeout of the evening.

With under 1:30 to play, Ohio State brought the game within one, though Jalen Pickett scored a bucket and was fouled immediately after — Pickett sunk his free throw and made it a four-point game  (73-69) with 59 seconds remaining. Ohio State answered on the following possession and was forced to foul Jalen Pickett, who sunk both free throws and pushed Penn State’s lead back to four with 28.5 seconds remaining in the game.

Penn State held on throughout the game’s final seconds, securing a massive four-point victory over the Buckeyes.

End of game stats

  • Pickett finished with 23 points on 8-11 shooting. Pickett scored the Lions’ final 14 points over last eight minutes of game time.
  • PSU shoots 58.3% from the floor in the second half, 51.9% overall.
  • Wynter (18), Lundy (19), and Pickett (23) were the only three Nittany Lions to score in double-digits. Andrew Funk went 0-2 on the night, his worst scoring performance this season.
  • The lead changed 20 times in this game, in addition to five ties.

FINAL: Penn State 75, Ohio State 71

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Chris, a Penn State University student, founded Basic Blues Nation in 2022. He remains a co-owner of the website today. Throughout a six-year writing career, Chris has been a beat writer, a staff writer, an Editor-In Chief, and more, serving as a member of the credentialed media for a number of Big Ten schools. He has covered everything from non-revenue sports to CFP National Championship matchups, as well as some professional and high school sports.

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