Hoosiers Drop Close One To Penn State, 61-58
Feb. 28, 2009
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- "I don't want to stop coaching these guys and they don't want to stop playing," said Indiana men's basketball coach Tom Crean.
Despite the trials and tribulations the 2008-09 Hoosier squad has endured, Indiana had a chance to experience a fight to the finish but fell at Penn State 61-58 Saturday night in State College.
"We have great kids and I was proud of them," said Crean. "I thought Devan was really locked in defensively, he had a tough assignment and I think that helped him on the offensive end."
Starting with practice Thursday and Friday, Indiana came out with the mindset that it was going to compete for 40 minutes.
"Our last two practices were great," said freshman guard Verdell Jones III. "We put friendships aside and battled and competed and I thought that helped us tonight."
The first two trips down the floor set the tone for the game. Indiana was able to force Penn State's Stanley Pringle to miss a jumper and the Hoosiers buried a quick three-pointer by junior Devan Dumes.
From that point on, Penn State would lead by no more than five, while IU would not lead by more than four points at any time.
The Nittany Lions Danny Morrissey would bury a three to make it 10-5 Penn State with 15:37 to go. Indiana would tie the game at 12-12 after a 15-footer by freshman Tom Pritchard and a three-pointer by Dumes with 13:21 to go. Neither team would score for four minutes until the Hoosiers got two free throws from freshman Malik Story with 9:19 to go in the half and then Jones would add a tip-in with 8:37 left to give IU its biggest lead of the first half at 16-12.
PSU would build a 22-18 , but the Hoosiers tied the score at 24-24 on a triple by freshman Matt Roth with 2:19 before halftime. The Hoosiers would take a 28-27 lead on a pair of free throws by Jones with nine seconds left but Penn State's Stanley Pringle would go coast to coast to make a layup for a 29-28 Nittany Lion halftime lead.
The crowd of 15,035 kept waiting for Penn State to pull away and bury the Hoosiers, but after building a four-point lead, the Nittany Lions would see that erased and Indiana tied the game with 14:18 to go on a long bomb by Jones.
Twice more, Penn State would go up by four only to see the Hoosiers come back and take a one-point lead at 46-45 with 10:00 to go on a pair of free throws by Pritchard. Again, Penn State came back with back-to-back three-pointers by Talor Battle and Chris Babb to take a 51-46 advantage with 8:48 to go.
IU would outscore Penn State 11-3 over the next 3:22. Jones would drive for back-to-back layups and Dumes would add a pair of free throws to make it 52-51. After PSU regained the lead at 53-52 with 6:14 left, Dumes would again spot up and hit a long distance shot to make it 55-53 and then after a Babb turnover, freshman Nick Williams would make it 57-53 with 5:26 to go.
Jackson and Battle would make one of two free throws and PSU cut the lead to 57-55 with 3:44 to go. A steal by Pringle and a layup by Battle would tie the score at 57-57 with 2:49 left.
Jones would make one of two charity tosses to give Indiana its last lead at 58-57 with 2:16 to go. Penn State got the edge back on a jumper by Jamelle Cornley with 1:55 to go and would give the Nittany Lions a three-point edge on a dunk with 56 seconds to go.
Indiana would have a chance to tie the game at the end. After garnering an offensive rebound on a missed free throw by Jones, Indiana looked to get a quick bucket but the PSU defense stiffened. Following a timeout, Roth missed a contested three-pointer with eight seconds to go and then after Battle, who got the rebound and stepped out of bounds with 4.3 seconds left, would try for another game-tying shot, but to no avail.
"We wanted to get a quick two, but that wasn't available and then we had to go for the three-pointer," said Crean. "They did a good job of switching."
Jones, who has scored double figures in five of his last seven games, tied for game-high honors with Dumes with 16 points. Jones also had a career-high with eight assists. For Dumes, it was his first double-digit effort since he scored 27 against Iowa earlier in the month.
Indiana also got 10 points from Pritchard and outrebounded Penn State 27-24. The Hoosiers tied their season low with 11 turnovers.
"I think Penn State is a NCAA Tournament caliber team," added Crean. "Not many teams have three guys who can do what they do."
Indiana will play its final home game in Assembly Hall this season when they host nationally ranked Michigan State at 7 p.m., Tuesday on ESPN.
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