Following Penn State's 62-39 to to Maryland on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, guard Talor Battle couldn't reiterate it enough: the Nittany Lions just didn't put the ball in the basket against the Terrapins...and even that might have been an understatement.
Penn State finished the evening 14-68 from the field for 20.6%, by fair the Lions' worst offensive performance of the season and possibly last season, too. That ugly number included a 3-26 mark from 3-point territory, or 11.1%.
In what has become an increasingly frustrating refrain for the Penn State faithful since Penn State's NIT Championship in 2008-2009, though, there were a lot of positives to take away from the loss.
State held Maryland, a team averaging over 80 points per game coming in, to 62. The Lions grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and forced the Terrapins into 17 turnovers. After bad performances defending the perimeter against Mississippi and Furman, Penn State limited Maryland to four makes from beyond the arc, and the the Lions even held Terp star Jordan Willliams to 15 points, just about two below his season average heading in of 17.3.
"We just never got in any kind of a rhythem offensively," coach Ed DeChellis said bluntly after the game "And we let it affect out defense the last 10 minutes."
Indeed, Maryland began breaking out in transition in the second half, scoring eight points off the fast break with most of them coming in the second half. The Terrapins also got off almost twice as many shots in the second half (31) as they did in the first (16) while maintaining near a 50% overall shooting percentage.
Battle led Penn State in scoring as usual with 21 points on the night but two players who've carried the scoring load with him through much of the season didn't contribute much Wednesday night. Forwards Jeff Brooks and David Jackson, averaging a combined 27 points entering the game, scored only eight for Penn State while seeing reduced minutes as a result of foul trouble. The pair was 3-16 from the field.
Maryland coach Gary Williams echoed Battle's sentiments in assessing Penn State's offense.
"I'd like to think it was our defense," Williams said. "But a lot of times, guys miss shots. I'm sure they felt they had some shots they just missed."
Now, he Nittany Lions again find themselves where they did after last Friday's loss to Mississippi, needing to rebound if they have any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament in March.. They'll get their first shot against Duqesne back at the BJC on Saturday and Battle believes focus will be important.
"We can't let Maryland beat us twice," Battle said.
"We'll just go back to practice for the next two days and work on shooting the basketball, getting back in rhythem and coming out Saturday and try and get a win."