Penn State’s season ends against Texas in the second round
Regardless of what the results were going into the NCAA Tournament, this team electrified Penn State fans across the country.
An amazing early March winning streak was capped with a run to the Big Ten Tournament where they were a possession away from winning the championship game. That firmly put them into March Madness for the first time since 2011.
The team wasn’t just satisfied with being in the dance, they wanted to perform. And they did in the first round, dominating seventh-seeded Texas A&M for their first tournament win since 2011.
Unfortunately, the magical season came to an end on Saturday night as the Nittany Lions fell to the two-seeded Texas Longhorns, 71-66.
The matchup was going to be tough for the undersized Penn State squad. Texas has been playing its best basketball of the season down the stretch. They dominated the Big 12 Tournament and won the championship in a decisive manner.
After Penn State’s hot shooting night on Thursday, they started this game off cold. They were held to single digits for the first 12 minutes of the game. Their defense was the only reason why they were still able to keep it close early on. Despite only nine points 12 minutes in, the deficit was two points.
Texas was able to get some separation right before half. Penn State went into the locker room trailing 23-31.
There were moments in the second half where it looked like the Longhorns were going to run away with the game. Penn State wasn’t shooting well and they could not stop Texas big man Dylan Disu.
However, they kept hanging around and hanging around, continuing to compete on both ends of the floor.
With just over six minutes remaining, they cut it to 54-55 after back-to-back threes by senior Myles Dread.
One minute later, Penn State took their first lead since two minutes into the game after Camren Wynter hit two free throws. In the next possession, Seth Lundy stole the ball and scored a layup on the other end to put the Nittany Lions up 58-55.
Texas called a timeout to regroup. After the timeout, it was Disu time. He scored six straight points to put the Longhorns back up by three. They continued on a 10-0 run that put them up by seven points with under a minute remaining.
That was the nail in the coffin for Penn State.
The matchup was a difficult one going into the game. If they shot the ball like they did against Texas A&M, it could have been a winnable one. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Penn State finished the game shooting 41.7% from the field and 28.6% from three-point range. Andrew Funk, who was sensational in the first round, was 5-14 from the field and 2-10 from three.
Wynter had a team high 16 points. Dread, the all-time Penn State leader in games played, scored 12 points in his final game. Jalen Pickett scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the last game of his sensational college career.
Disu had a game-high 28 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Sir’Jabari Rice added 13 points off the bench and Marcus Carr joined them in double digits with 10.
It was a tough way for the season to end, knowing that if a couple shots that are normally made go into the hoop this game, Penn State could be playing in the Sweet Sixteen. But that’s the fickle game of basketball. Sometimes they fall, and sometimes they don’t.
Now, all eyes are going to be on what Penn State will look like next season. This roster was the most experienced in the country. Losing the multiple impact seniors will require a roster overhaul to bring players in from the transfer portal to pair with the talented underclassmen.
All of that is a moot point if Penn State can’t keep coach Micah Shrewsberry in State College. It should be a top priority of the athletic department to secure him as head coach for the long haul.
There is clearly an appetite for Penn State basketball and having an elite head coach is the start of building a consistent program. Hopefully, the athletic department sees it the same way.
Let’s celebrate this team, players and coaching staff for giving Penn State fans an amazing season!
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