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Penn State Basketball Stuns No.21 Maryland at Buzzer

The Nittany Lions overcame a 16-point deficit to keep their March Madness hopes alive.

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Penn State Basketball
Mar 5, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Micah Shrewsberry gestures from the bench during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

In a must-win game, Penn State basketball (19-12, 10-10 Big Ten) rose to the occasion on Senior Day, rattling off a double-digit comeback to beat No. 21 Maryland (20-11, 11-9 Big Ten) 65-64 at the buzzer. The Quad 1 win – the Nittany Lions’ second of the week – comes following a dramatic overtime victory against Northwestern Wednesday.

Penn State now has five Quad 1 victories this season and has won five of its last six games. Finishing at .500 or better in the conference for only the eighth time in 31 years, the Lions have secured a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.

Most importantly, Penn State’s NCAA Tournament hopes live to fight another day.

First Half: Strong Start, Sloppy Finish

The Nittany Lions started strong on the defensive end, forcing the Terrapins to miss five of their first six shots from the floor. Meanwhile, Jalen Pickett made two quick buckets to give Penn State a 7-2 lead. The Lions started 2-4 from three-point range to make it 10-6 heading into the first TV timeout.

Maryland scored five quick points out of the break to take an 11-10 lead, their first of the contest. Penn State turned the ball over three times and went scoreless over three minutes as Maryland extended the lead to four.

But the Lions came storming back in a hurry. A Pickett jumper and a rim-rattling three from Michael Henn gave Penn State the 15-14 lead.

Head coach Micah Shrewsberry was extremely vocal through several no-calls and lackluster defensive sets in the opening frame. Approaching 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Lions’ bench was called for a technical foul. Maryland led 19-10 following the two made free throws.

Penn State was sloppy with the ball on offense, a break from its trend all season. The Lions had seven early turnovers along with an eight-minute scoring drought as Maryland extended their lead. The Terrapins led 28-15 with under five in the half.

A scoreless drought from Maryland allowed the Lions to sneak back into the game in the half’s closing minutes. But despite the window of opportunity, Penn State could not overcome its shooting woes. The Nittany Lions missed 12 of their final 15 shots and went 9-25 from the field in the half.

A Jalen Pickett buzzer-beater gave the Lions a momentum boost heading into the locker room, but Maryland still led 35-22 at the break.

Wynter Stuns at the Buzzer (Again)

The second half opened with both teams trading buckets for the five minutes of play. This helped to keep the crowd engaged but didn’t do much to cut into Maryland’s lead. The Terrapins still led by 11 going into the first media timeout of the half.

Going into the midway point of the half, Penn State finally took advantage of a Maryland scoring drought. A 7-0 run, capped by an Andrew Funk three-pointer, made it a 10-point game.

Time and again, Penn State would go scoreless for long stretches in this game – only to have a few key shots keep them within striking distance. Three consecutive three-pointers from Funk and Myles Dread made it a 59-54 game with 4:12 to play.

With two minutes to play, Seth Lundy made a reverse layup to make it a 62-59 Maryland lead. The next time down the floor, Funk nailed a two from the corner to make it a one-point game with 1:24 to play.

Another Maryland miss gave the Lions the ball with the chance to take the lead. Pickett displayed great court vision to find Camren Wynter cutting to the basket for a wide-open layup. With 43 seconds to play, Penn State reclaimed the lead, 63-62.

A layup from Maryland’s Julian Reese put the Terrapins back up by one with 19 seconds remaining. Pickett fought off a double team to get the ball to Lundy with five seconds remaining. Lundy’s three went off the rim but fell right into the hands of Cam Wynter, who laid it in with 0.5 seconds remaining.

“It was the right place at the right time,” Wynter said after the game. “…I was under the basket; there was nothing else to do but go up with it.”

In all honesty, Penn State didn’t deserve to win this game. The Lions trailed by as many as 16 points in the game, and 15 points several times in the second half. They shot 48% from the field, including 37% from three-point range. Several Lions had respectable – but not stellar – performances, with Pickett (16), Funk (14), and Dread (11) each scoring in the double-digits. Meanwhile, Penn State struggled to contain Maryland’s Jahmir Young on the other end, who had 26 points on the day.

But in the end, all that matters is the final score. And that’s where Penn State basketball found itself when the clock hit zero on Sunday. Despite it all, the Lions pulled out a “gritty, not pretty” performance for the ages, winning 65-64.

Next Stop for Penn State Basketball: Chicago

After looking like the moment became too big for them against Rutgers last week, the Nittany Lions have finished the season on as strong of a note as possible.

With the win, Penn State finished Big Ten play at 10-10. This makes 2023 just the fourth time in program history that Penn State basketball reached the 10-win mark in conference play. It’s also only the eighth time in the Lions’ three decades of Big Ten membership that they finished the season with a conference record of .500 or better.

Penn State also secured a top-10 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament with Sunday’s win. As a result, Micah’s Shrewsberry’s squad will get a first-round bye and will play next Thursday in second-round action.

With zero margin for error, Sunday’s win keeps Penn State’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The Lions have made their case to get into the field of 68 down the stretch. Penn State has rattled off several impressive performances en route to finishing the season with five wins in six games.  With room to add to their five Quad 1 wins in Chicago, the Lions will certainly give the bracketologists something to think about.

“I’d love if they’d put me on the committee,” Shrewsberry said. “We’re playing our best ball right now. This is what we’ve been aiming for all season…it’s going to be a circus in Chicago. Anybody can beat anybody on any night.”

But all of that will be sorted out in due time. This time of year, it’s all about taking things one game – one moment – at a time. It’s March. Time to survive and advance.



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Matt is a Co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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