Penn State 70, Maryland 64: Philly Freshmen Shine in Needed Upset

By Eric Gibson on February 7, 2017 at 8:52 pm
Lamar Stevens
Matthew O'Haren/USA Today
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  1st Half 2nd Half Final
Maryland 29 35 64
Penn State 35 35 70

It wasn't pretty and it certainly wasn't flawless, but Penn State got a 70-64 win they needed to have over No. 21 Maryland Tuesday night. On the backs of their heralded freshmen, the Lions were able to provide a reminder that the future is indeed bright after the demoralizing loss to Rutgers, and their NIT hopes may just be resurrected yet,

While Maryland's three freshmen starters have garnered headlines all season, it was Penn State's freshmen who stole the show. Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr, Mike Watkins, and even Nazeer Bostick carried Penn State to this important victory. On a night where Terrence Samuel was unavailable through illness, and Payton Banks and Shep Garner couldn't find their strokes, it was the young guns who were able to push through "the freshman wall" and come up with big plays all night.

What was particularly impressive was the Nittany Lion defense that caused Maryland fits for 40 minutes. The same unit that looked so dominant against Michigan State and Minnesota finally returned after their recent lull, holding a typically good Terps offense to a measly 0.90 points per possession.

Stevens played arguably his best game of the season as he dominated both ends for long stretches, totaling 25 points on 8-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds. He proved how valuable he can be when not hampered by foul trouble in critical stretches. Carr was steady throughout, turning the ball over zero times in a team-high 33 minutes, and wisely took advantage of smaller Maryland guards when the opportunity presented itself.

The Terps have been great in close games all season, but they didn't have their usual Turgeon magic on this occasion. Maryland got within as many as four with under two minutes to play but some gutsy free throw shooting and defensive stops down the stretch gave Penn State just enough to get to the finish line, marking their fourth-consecutive home win over a ranked opponent.

Four Factors

  Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FTRate
Penn State 68 1.02 44.9% 29.4% 14.6% 77.6
Maryland 0.94 39.8% 35.7% 19.0% 45.8

Penn State's defense won this one obviously. Neither team shot well, but it was the Lions who got enough stops down the stretch. Maryland won the battle on the glass, but they weren't able to make PSU pay for it like in past games.

PSU's offense was able to barely eclipse the 1.00 efficiency mark, something they've struggled to do in conference play. It was just good enough to get the win. Their two-point offense was surprisingly effective (19-31, 61%), while their perimeter scoring noticeably disappeared (2-18, 11%). The Nittany Lions had made at least 8 threes in each of their last five games coming in. 

If you are wondering about those high foul rates, yes, there were 47 fouls called in this game. This game was poorly officiated. Let's leave it at that. 

Player Notes

  • Lamar Stevens -  Player of the game on both ends. He limited mistakes, didn't get in foul trouble and finally had an efficient scoring night. 25 points on 13 shots is absurd.
  • Mike Watkins - Maryland's bigs have eaten PSU's frontcourt since they joined the Big Ten, but not tonight. Watkins admirably protected the rim for much of the game, despite some ticky-tack fouls that forced him to play cautious for most of the second half. 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks and 0 turnovers in 21 minutes. 
  • Tony Carr - Another steady game from the newly-named captain. 33 minutes of turnover-free basketball while chipping in 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Maryland's shorter guards had trouble defending him all night. 
  • Julian Moore - Gotta give some love to Moore for a great response after Saturday's letdown. Unfortunately his other classmates couldn't do the same, but he came up with 9 points and 3 rebounds in 18 minutes. 
  • Nazeer Bostick - How about the Horse? Chambers had been saying how he wants to get Naz more minutes. We're going to see a lot more of him after he came up with huge plays down the stretch when the Lions looked dead in the water. None were bigger than a putback off an offensive rebound after a dreadful possession that was going nowhere. 
  • Shep Garner - You thought Shep may have turned a corner on his season with his 24-point outburst Saturday, but he was MIA tonight. 1-9 from the floor with only 1 assist. This level of inconsistency from the upperclassmen has been maddening. 
  • Josh Reaves - An abnormally quiet game from Josh. He never got into the rhythm of the offense, nor did he register a steal on the defensive end. Some shaky turnovers in the second half, but you gotta love his offensive rebounds that seal victories at the end of games.
  • Payton Banks - Eeeeesh. That's two bad stinkers in a row from Banks. He was scoreless and grabbed zero rebounds in 18 minutes. Bostick will be taking some minutes soon if he can't get it together. 
  • Davis Zemgulis - Davis got some run. He didn't do much in 7 minutes, but he admirably filled in at the 5 when Moore/Watkins were saddled with fouls. 
  • Terrence Samuel - DNP - Illness
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