The 2018-19 Penn State basketball season is over. The Nittany Lions fell in overtime 77-72 to Minnesota in a second round matchup in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday evening in Chicago.
Penn State entered the tournament winners of five of their last six, and seven of ten. All of this, of course, comes after a catastrophic 0-10 start to the conference slate. For 37 minutes, they controlled the game against the No. 7 seed Golden Gophers, leading 59-51 with just under four minutes to play. However, Minnesota closed regulation on a 10-2 run, including a Dupree McBrayer jumper with 38 seconds left to tie the score. Lamar Stevens missed on one end, and Amir Coffey's 35-foot buzzer beater was wide, sending the game to an extra session.
Behind senior Josh Reaves, the game was tied a 66 with under two minutes to go in overtime, but Amir Coffey would score the next five to essentially end the game. As was the case for much of the year, Penn State simply could not execute in crunch time.
The Lions were dealt a pair of crucial inexplicable calls down the stretch in regulation as well. With about two-and-a-half minutes left, Stevens drove and was clearly hooked by Matz Stockman as he went up for the shot. The Gophers would not score on the ensuing possession, but two potential points were off of the board. Just seconds later, Penn State appeared to maintain possession on a ball deflected out of bounds, but after reviewing the play, the call was inexplicably overturned. Minnesota would tie the game at 59 on the other end of the floor. Stevens put Penn State up 61-59 before McBrayer's game-tying shot.
Officiating, however, was not what ultimately cost Penn State another potential Big Ten Tournament run. Eight point leads with 3:45 left need to be held, and the Lions simply did not do enough down the stretch, and struggled to hang onto the ball.
Lamar Stevens finished the game with 24 points to lead the way for Penn State, while Jamari Wheeler was solid in adding 13, with Josh Reaves accounting for 12. Mike Watkins was fantastic in limited action with 14 points and seven rebounds, but foul trouble early, and a late ejection in overtime marred the productive night. He was disqualified late in overtime for leaving the bench during a mild altercation between Wheeler and Coffey that led to a double technical on the pair.
Penn State ends the season 14-18, with Josh Reaves and Deivis Zemgulis' Nittany Lion careers coming to a close. It will not, however, be the final game for Patrick Chambers. Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour confirmed to The Athletic following the game that Chambers will return for a ninth season in 2019-20.