It was so close to being the perfect day for Micah Shrewsberry against his former team as Penn State hosted No. 3 Purdue.
The Nittany Lions (7-6, 2-3 Big Ten) gave the heavily-favored Boilermakers (13-2, 2-2 Big Ten) all they could handle, but fell short in a tough 74-67 defeat.
|PTS OFF TURNOVERS||9||16|
|SECOND CHANCE POINTS||10||17|
|POINTS IN THE PAINT||28||36|
|JALEN PICKETT (21 POINTS)||TREVION WILLIAMS (21 POINTS)|
As Purdue started the second half strongly, taking a 13 point lead at the 12:03 mark, it looked as though the Boilermakers were going to run away to a comfortable win. As they did against Northwestern on Wednesday, though, Penn State didn't go away.
A series of threes from Dallion Johnson, Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy, plus a layup from Greg Lee sparked the Nittany Lions back into life and cut the deficit down to four in a three-minute span. The two teams then traded blows over the next few possessions.
Penn State next found itself in the lead for the first time in the second half thanks to a tough jumper from Pickett and a wing three from Lee.
Pickett was phenomenal for the Nittany Lions, leading all scorers with 21 points and dishing out 10 assists. It seemed like at times whatever defense Purdue threw at Pickett didn't faze him. He also played a team-high in minutes, as has been the case in almost every game this season.
After Lee's three got the Bryce Jordan Center to its loudest point of the afternoon with 3:42 left, the Boilermakers played like the Final Four-caliber team that many believe them to be.
In the next two possessions right after Lee knocked down that three, Trevion Williams banged in a layup and Mason Gillis -- who scored a career-high 14 points -- suddenly put Purdue right back in control.
After a Lundy layup made it a two-point game, the Boilermakers shut out the Nittany Lions over the final two minutes and made the necessary plays to survive the upset scare, including a back-breaking and-1 conversion from Williams that gave Purdue a five point edge with a minute to go.
Williams was terrific for Purdue as fellow big man Zach Edey battled foul trouble. Edey was held to six points in 10 minutes, but Williams was able to pick up the slack, tying for a game-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He also added 9 rebounds.
Even in the defeat, Lee had his best performance in a Penn State uniform to date and finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds. He gives the Nittany Lions an element they really lacked the first chuck of the season when he had to miss because of injury.
It was a tough afternoon for Seth Lundy, Sam Sessoms and Myles Dread, making the fact Penn State played Purdue as close as it did all the more impressive. Lundy scored 10 points, but was only 3-of-10 from the floor and turned the ball over three times.
Dread only attempted two shots, hitting one. Sessoms played a season-low seven minutes and was held scoreless. He also had a few bad turnovers that resulted in a quick hook to the bench from Micah Shrewsberry.
Having those three as non-factors for large portions of a game is not a recipe for success for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions return to action on Tuesday when they host Rutgers and then hit the road for their second meeting of the season with Ohio State on Jan. 16.