Penn State’s buzzer-beater sends Maryland into the postseason on a two-game slide

Photo by Maryland Athletics

The Terps clung to a one point lead with 19.2 seconds left after forward Julian Reese laid down  a massive layup. 

With the shot clock turned off, the Nittany Lions could hold for the final shot. Maryland’s defense swarmed the court, trying to hold onto the win. After forward Seth Lundy’s three-pointer missed, no Terp could secure the rebound. The ball landed in guard Camren Wynter’s hands and he put in the go-ahead bucket.

There was still 0.5 seconds left on the clock but the inbound pass was intercepted as No. 21 Maryland men’s basketball (20-11, B1G 11-9) imploded in the final minutes as Penn State (19-12, B1G 10-10) completed the 16-point comeback earning the 65-64 victory.

“We played great defense,” head coach Kevin Willard said on that last play. “We tried to slap the ball instead of grabbing the ball and we slapped the ball right out of our own hands and that’s how it fell into the kid’s hands.” 

With the loss, the Terps only earn a single-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, but with the conference all jammed they will not find out their seed until tonight after all the games are completed. 

Maryland started off slow but looked to be playing much better than in previous road games. Reese scored Maryland’s first six points, but the rest of the offense struggled until the first media timeout as Penn State held a 10-6 lead. 

Then, guard Jahmir Young got to work as the Terps exploded for a 10-0 run. Young and guard Don Carey each knocked down a three-pointer helping the Terps retake the lead off Nittany Lions turnovers. 

The Terps would build up a 16 point lead in the first half getting timely three-pointers from guard Ian Martinez who scored 11 points off the bench as part of a 14-0 run. The Terps kept Penn State scoreless for over eight minutes but guard Kayne Clary ended the drought on a layup. 

Penn State couldn’t capitalize at the free throw line and turned the ball over ten times in the first half, but they cleaned that up during halftime. Maryland took full advantage scoring 11 points off Penn State’s first-half turnovers, and was 4-4 from the free throw line. 

Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett ended the first half knocking down a three-pointer buzzer-beater with his right hand, sparking some momentum, but Penn State still trailed 35-22. 

In the second half, the Nittany Lions only turned the ball over once and hit all three free throws. 

The Terps continued adding to their lead, with Young taking over the game and finishing with 26 points showing off his speed. Carey’s hot shooting continued as he added 11 points including a layup showing his ability to get to the basket as forward Donta Scott and guard Hakim Hart had quiet games. 

“Jahmir was phenomenal,” Willard said. “I thought he played under control. They were trapping, playing pick and rolls, and switching. I thought he stayed aggressive and gave us a chance to win.”

Penn State slowly started chipping away at Maryland’s lead using a 7-0 run over a two-minute span cutting Maryland’s lead to single digits midway through the second half. The Nittany Lions heated up from deep as guards Andrew Funk and Myles Dread rebounded from a quiet first half as the team  fought for its NCAA Tournament lives.

Each scored 11 second-half points combining six second-half three-pointers. Funk and Dread knocked down back-to-back three-pointers, shrinking Maryland’s lead to 59-54 with just 4:12 left in the game. Dread’s basket forced Willard to call a timeout. 

After the timeout, Carey got his jumper to fall, providing some cushion, but forward Patrick Emilien fouled forward Seth Lundy on a three-point attempt. Lundy comfortably hit all three free throws, shrinking Maryland’s lead to four at 61-57. 

Maryland went cold from there, missing shots and allowing Penn State to go on a 13-3 scoring run, eventually retaking the lead on Wynter’s layup after Maryland’s defense busted the coverage leaving him wide open in front of the hoop. Wynter’s layup gave Penn State a 63-62 lead with 43.5 seconds left. 

Wynter capped off his Senior Day by hitting his second game-winning shot in as many games helping pad Penn State’s NCAA Tournament hopes.