It took just a little over a minute of bad basketball for Penn State (2-1) to surrender an eight-point lead and ultimately fall to Seton Hall (2-3) 98-92 in overtime on Sunday night. With 1:58 remaining, the Nittany Lions were up 84-76. The Pirates hit a 3, took advantage of two way-too-early-in-the-clock shots, a lazy turnover, and with :44 left, the game was tied at 84.
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It was deflating to see the Lions wilt late after dominating Seton Hall for long stretches of the game. Penn State built a 19-point lead thanks to lights-out shooting in the first half and headed to halftime up 11. The Pirates returned the favor in the second half, opening the stanza hitting their first nine shots to take a 56-53 lead.
But Penn State absorbed the run and regained the advantage thanks to threes by Myles Dread (14 points) and MJ Jones (17 points) to put the Lions up 62-59, a lead they held for nearly seven minutes. The Pirates tied it up at 73 with just under six minutes to play thanks to a three from their gifted big man Sandro Mamukelashvili, who led all scorers with 30 points.
The Nittany Lions took that punch and seemed to surge again, regaining the lead on the strength of a nifty layup from Izaiah Brockington (10 points) and another 3 by Dread. Penn State would hold a multiple-possession advantage until the ill-fated final moments of regulation.
In overtime, the teams traded buckets with the Lions holding a slim lead until Shavar Reynolds nailed a triple to put Seton Hall up 93-91 with just :45 remaining. It looked as though Sam Sessoms (10 points) would equalize for Penn State following a foul on Mamukelashvili, but the diminutive guard was only able to hit 1 of 2 free throws with :23 left. From there, the Lions fouled immediately but weren't able to connect following two more Pirate free throws.
- Penn State has an emerging star in sophomore forward Seth Lundy, who led the Lions with 23 points on 9-16 shooting. He has diversified his game since his freshman campaign and is scoring from all three levels. Some of the shots he made on Sunday night were simply ridiculous. The kind of shots that make you shake your head as a defender.
- The Big Ten is going to be a slog for the Lions who have little front-court depth. John Harrar is a gamer and played well, scoring 11 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, but Trent Buttrick and freshman Abdou Tsimbila combined for just 16 minutes. Tsimbila was active in his brief time, with an assist, rebound, and a block, but it's clear the coaching staff is easing him in. If Harrar gets in more foul trouble than normal, it's going to be interesting to see where Jim Ferry goes with his minutes.
- Yes, it was a familiar loss, but Penn State has more legitimate scoring depth than they have in a long time. Lundy looks poised to lead the way and fill in for the huge vacancy left by Lamar Stevens, but six Lions put up double figures in a competitive game. Even though they're small, having multiple scoring options that will force defenses to stay honest will go a long way to a successful season.
Penn State returns to the court on Tuesday at Virginia Tech as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The game will be televised by ESPNU at 9 p.m. EST.