In their last game before the start of the Big Ten season the Penn State basketball team couldn’t get open opportunities to fall, and had their senior captain taken to the hospital.
Penn State dropped its first game of the holiday break, as they were defeated by Maine, 74-64.
Senior captain Talor Battle led all scorers with 26 points, 21 of which came in the second half. Battle left for the emergency room right after the game to receive X-rays on his left hand after a dunk during the last minutes of the game. Coach Ed DeChellis didn't have any more details about the hand injury.
The Black Bears shot 11-19 from 3-point range, hitting four more than their opponent as the Lions shot only 30 percent (7-23) from distance. Maine’s zone attack forced the Lions to take shots from outside, where they failed to convert most of the night.
Penn State shared baskets all through the first half but just after the seven minute mark, Maine’s Murphy Burnatowski hit one of his five 3-pointers and the Bears wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
Senior David Jackson said the team came out flat, and couldn’t find rhythm as the game went on.
“I feel like we didn’t play well,” Jackson said. “They didn’t really surprise us with anything they do. We were well prepared for this game; we just came out a little flat.”
Jackson (18 points) and Battle were the only two players in double digits for the Lions and DeChellis said he’s still uncertain about the players he rotates in.
“Our football coach says it all the time; you’re never as good as you think you are, you’re never as bad as you think you are,” Dechellis said. “Tonight I didn’t think we were sharp, I didn’t think we defended the way we needed to.
“Off the bench, what we have tried to tell the kids is [have] consistency. They get 17 off the bench from one guy, we haven’t had that all year.”
Jeff Brooks hit the first shot of the game but missed his next four and finished with only two, 10 less than his previous average.
Dechellis said more effort is required from not only the bench, but his seniors, including Brooks — who was pulled after a mental mistake left Maine’s Burnatowski open for a first half three.
The coach said the team didn’t bring the focus they needed and it led to the breakdowns.
“I thought tonight it was more, everybody took their turn,” Dechellis said. “This possession this guy didn’t do what he’s supposed to do, that possession that guy didn’t do what he’s supposed to do. Then all of a sudden, that’s six or eight points. You get yourself into a hole and that’s a problem.”
Jackson said all the players can do is look forward, as they open up Big Ten play in two weeks, traveling to Bloomington to play Indiana on Dec. 27.
“It’s a whole new season coming up,” the senior said. “We got to have a whole different level of focus and we can’t come out flat against any of the teams in the Big Ten.
“We’re going to have to have a lot more focus, and we’re going to be ready.”