Penn State’s offensive ineptitude continued Sunday afternoon.
The Nittany Lion men’s basketball team fell 60-42 at Purdue for its fourth consecutive loss to start the Big Ten season.
After back-to-back 31 percent shooting games in losses to No. 5 Indiana and Northwestern, Penn State shot just 26 percent (15-of-58) against the Boilermakers.
It marked the lowest shooting percentage and point output of the season for the Nittany Lions (8-8, 0-4 Big Ten).
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“If you make shots, the game becomes very, very simple,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said, “and for whatever reason, we are not making shots right now. We’re finding our way.”
An effective offensive rhythm never developed as just a few Nittany Lions were able to find the basket in each half.
Brandon Taylor scored all 11 of his points in the first half including a 3-point heave at the buzzer from beyond half court that pulled Penn State within 30-22 at halftime. The only other players to score in the half were Jermaine Marshall with six points and Sasa Borovnjak with five.
In the second half, Taylor and Borovnjak failed to tally and Marshall managed just two points. Borovnjak would finish with a career high five steals.
D.J. Newbill, who went scoreless until a driving layup with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, finished with nine mostly academic points on 3-of-12 shooting.
“When your two best players are not producing, it’s going to be a challenge to score, and that’s why you see 42 points,” Chambers said.
Ross Travis scored his five points in the second half, while Patrick Ackerman and Akosa Maduegbunam each finished with two.
Purdue had no such problems, with double-digit scoring from four players.
Ronnie Johnson finished with a game-high 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting. D.J. Byrd and A.J. Hammons each contributed 12, while Rapheal Davis added 10.
Hammons, a 7-foot, 280-pound center, also had five blocks and made life tough in the paint for the Nittany Lions.
“When he’s at the basket and he gets big and just walls people up, he gives us an advantage,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
The Boilermakers (8-8, 2-2) shot 45 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range (4-for-8). They dominated down low by scoring 32 points in the paint and also scored 19 points off 14 Penn State turnovers as Purdue harassed the Nittany Lion backcourt.
“We just wanted to get up to them and disrupt to the best of our ability and kind of wear them down, kind of like a boxing match, just try to stay there with them bringing the ball up the court,” Painter said.
It is the third straight game that Penn State has surrendered at least 45 percent shooting from the field.
Despite the lopsided final score, the Nittany Lions played with much more energy than they showed at home against the Wildcats. But that will be little solace to Chambers as his team’s inability to make shots continues to allow teams to make large runs.
After three Borovnjak free throws in the first half, Penn State trailed just 21-19 with 3:15 remaining, but a 3:14 drought led to a 9-0 Purdue run that was only broken by Taylor’s desperation three at the buzzer.
In the second half, a Travis jumper with 14:05 remaining made the score 34-28, but Penn State wouldn’t score again until a Travis bucket at 9:53. The result — a 15-2 Boilermakers run that effectively ended the game.
Chambers also experimented with different lineups early in the game, bringing Patrick Ackerman and Akosa Maduegbunam off the bench first, with Kevin Montminy and Kevin Onyeaka also seeing action.
The schedule remains difficult for the Nittany Lions, with No. 22 Michigan State visiting the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night.
Note: The Nittany Lions had trouble getting home Sunday evening. After circling the University Park Airport for a half hour and was unable to land because of fog, the team’s flight was diverted to Pittsburgh.