Poor shooting an untimely mistakes cost Penn State's basketball squad once again cost the Nittany Lions on Wednesday night. The result was a 61-57 loss to 4-5 Lafayette in front of an announced 5,462 at the Jordan Center.
Jermaine Marshall was the Lions' high-scorer with 20 points. (Photo Courtesy of Penn State Sports Information)
Penn State, despite outrebounding Lafayette 47-26, shot just 32.8 percent from the floor and an ice-cold 3 of 23 (13.0 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Leopards' zone defense kept Tim Frazier at bay, as the Nittany Lions' standout guard did not hit a shot in 12 attempts from the field.
"The numbers are staggering," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "Twenty-six free throws, 20 offensive rebounds. It's crazy. But I have to give them credit. They made the plays at the end of the game when they had to, and we didn't."
Penn State cut what was a 10-point deficit with just over 10 minutes to play down to two with a Ross Travis layup with 4:35 remaining, but the teams traded baskets and, more importantly, timely mistakes, as the Leopards closed out the win.
The Nittany Lions had plenty of chances late, though.
Trailing by two with just under a minute, Tim Frazier tried to go strong off the glass but couldn't get the shot to fall. At the other end, Lafayette's Seth Hinrichs missed a three and Jermaine Marshall grabbed the board only to be stripped seconds later. Lafayette made one of two free throws to extend the lead to three at 59-56.
The Leopards thought they got the ball back on the other end, but called a timeout that they didn't have during a tie-up and were handed a technical foul. Tim Frazier went to the line but made just one of two.
From there, two Lafayette free throws sealed the deal.
"We made some mistakes down the stretch there," said Chambers. "That's just from being in an intense, tight situation. Hopefully, we learn from this."
Free throws were once again a burden for Chambers' squad, as the NIttany Lions hit just 16 of 26 attempts.
"Instead of being 6-4, we could be 8-2 if we make free throws," said Chambers. "We put them on the line, we put pressure on them, if you miss, you've got to run. They're coming in, they're shooting extra, at some point it becomes mental and you've got to get up there and get some confidence."
Penn State's Marshall led all scorers with 20 points on 5-13 shooting. He converted 9 of 11 free throws and also grabbed nine boards in the effort. Freshman Ross Travis also hit double figures with 12 and eight boards while Cammeron Woodyard chipped in 10. Guard Matt Glover added nine rebounds.
Frazier, who led the Big Ten in scoring coming into the game, finished with three points and nine assists.
Hinrichs and guard Jim Mower led Lafayette with 14 points each, while Nick Petkovitch came off the bench and contributed 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Nittany Lions played without freshman guard Trey Lewis, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.