Comeback Attempt for Men’s Basketball Falls Short at Michigan State

Comeback Attempt for Men’s Basketball Falls Short at Michigan State
Harrar’s double-double, defense and rebounding spark Nittany Lions’ second-half efforts

BOX SCORE: Michigan State 60, Penn State 58

Credit Source: Penn State University Athletics

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Penn State men’s basketball team fought back in the second half, but three 3-point attempts missed the mark and Michigan State (10-7, 4-7) escaped with a 60-58 win Tuesday. Penn State (7-9, 4-8) erased a double-digit lead and went up by four points with 3:16 to play, but came up short in the final 49 seconds.

Michigan State took back lead and went ahead by two, 60-58, after a second-chance layup and four free throws with 1:18 left in the game. A PSU 3-pointer with 49 seconds left missed its mark and after a MSU timeout, the tenacious Nittany Lion defense forced a turnover and Penn State brought the ball into the frontcourt. Following a Penn State timeout, a second 3-pointer bounced off the inside iron of the rim.

Forced to foul, Penn State sent the Spartans to the free throw line. Michigan State missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Penn State had one final chance. The last-second 3-point attempt was long and the Nittany Lions were out of time.

“(This was) a really hard-fought game, really proud of our guys the way we came back in the second half, I thought we really defended and rebounded well,” said interim head coach Jim Ferry. “We struggled a little bit in the first half, but I thought in the second half, we really responded. Guys played a little more aggressively…We only turned the ball over nine times, we made 13 free throws and just lost a tough one…I give our guys a lot of credit. They fought really hard. They’re devastated right now. We got to bounce back. We have a lot of games to play in this league. We’re right there. We have to try to get the next one on the road and we’re putting ourselves in situations to win on the road. We are coming up one play short.”

Senior forward John Harrar led Penn State in three stat categories, finishing with his fourth career double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds) to tie career bests, and getting a career-high four assists.

Trailing by as many as 12 points in the second half, Penn State would not go quietly. Beginning at 16:17 mark in the second half, the Nittany Lions used a 13-3 run fueled by  five points from Harrar and a pair of treys by junior guard Sam Sessoms. The Nittany Lions run tied the game at 41 with 11:53 to play.

Michigan State extended its lead back to eight at 50-42 with 9:16 left on the clock. Junior guard Myreon Jones found his stroke, scoring 11 of Penn State’s next 17 points. Jones’ layup at the 6:16 mark gave the Nittany Lions a 52-51 lead, their first since the 16:21 mark in the first half. The two teams tied at 52 and again at 54 before Jones converted a layup and added two free throws for a 58-54 PSU lead with 3:16 left.

The Spartans scored on their next possession to cut the lead to two and made four free throws on their ensuing possessions for the 60-58 lead and final score.

Jones finished with 15 points, scoring 11 in the second half. Senior guard Jamari Wheeler collected his 300th career assist, 16th on Penn State’s career list.

A force in the opening half, Harrar had nine points and nine rebounds to help offset the Nittany Lions’ shooting struggles. After an early 6-5 lead, a 12-0 Spartan run allowed Michigan State to jump out to a 17-6 advantage. Dread hit a jumper off the glass to end the run and a 6-0 Penn State run and cut the Spartans’ lead to 17-12.

Harrar scored Penn State’s next five points to keep the Nittany Lions within striking distance.

Dread hit Penn State’s first 3-pointer of the half with 1:10 remaining and trimmed the Spartan lead to 29-22. Trailing by 10, Sessoms connected for a jumper to send the Nittany Lions into the locker room behind 32-24.

The Nittany Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center to face Nebraska at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 14. The game will be broadcast by Big Ten Network.

Keep up to date with the latest information from the Nittany Lions at @PennStateMBB on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook at @pennstatebasketball.


Please stay connected and follow Penn State men’s basketball virtually throughout season. While we are unable to host fans this season due to COVID-19 protocols, fans are able to join the interest list for tickets for the 2021-22 men’s basketball season. Sign up for the 2021-22 interest list by clicking here.

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