Despite hanging around for the majority of the game, Penn State couldn't mount a late comeback as the team fell to Ohio State, 65-51, on Saturday.
With 2:05 remaining in the contest, the Nittany Lions (8-12, 0-8 Big Ten) created a much-needed turnover and had a chance to cut the difference to single digits.
However, the Buckeyes (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) clamped down defensively and made 11 consecutive free throws in the final seven minutes to secure an 18-game winning streak against Penn State in front of 11,212 fans on Coaches vs. Cancer Band Together Day at the Bryce Jordan Center.
“When [Penn State] went to the fouling, knocking those [free throws] down was kind of what finished the game off for us,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “…Anytime they’re fouling and you step up and make two, it really helps your cause.”
Despite the Buckeyes capability to ice the game, Penn State held its own against a team that hasn’t lost to an unranked opponent all season.
Most notably, the Lions were able to bottle up imposing forward Deshaun Thomas, who led the Big Ten in scoring heading into Saturday with 20.5 points per game.
Thomas, who played just nine minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, finished with 11 points and hauled in just three rebounds.
“If you told me we were going to hold Deshaun Thomas to 11 points, I’d say we were going to be in the game, and maybe with a chance to win,” Lions coach Patrick Chambers said.
On the offensive end, guards Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill carried the team once again, as they combined for 31 points and eight assists.
Even though the backcourt duo shouldered the scoring burden, Penn State took care of the basketball with just four turnovers against the Buckeyes, who are second best in turnover margin in the Big Ten.
Most notably, Newbill committed just one giveaway while guarded by Aaron Craft, one of the best defenders in the Big Ten.
Despite this, Penn State couldn’t capitalize on open looks as they came out and shot a meager 29.2 percent from the field in the first half, and was held without a field goal for an 11-minute stretch in the first half.
“We were focusing on making smarter passes,” Newbill said. “…We were moving the ball, we were swinging, and swinging and swinging it. I think we were able to get some good shots [from that].”