Penn State’s run in the College Basketball Invitational lasted two games spanning six days.
The Nittany Lions hoped to use the tournament as a springboard into next season. Instead, Penn State bowed out in the quarterfinals Monday night against the fifth-place team out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Siena blocked seven shots and held Penn State to 29.8 percent shooting. The Saints outrebounded the Nittany Lions and outscored them in the paint. And Siena made the plays down the stretch to edge Penn State 54-52 at the Times Union Center.
The Saints (17-17) advanced to the semifinals behind 5-foot-8 guard Evan Hymes’ game-winning layup in the final seconds. Lavon Long led the Saints with 17 points. Brett Bisping scored 12 points to go with 12 rebounds, and Rob Poole added 11 points and eight rebounds.
For Penn State (16-18), the season is over. The Nittany Lions beat Hampton in the first round of the CBI.
D.J. Newbill was the lone Penn State player to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points on 5-for-18 shooting. Fifth-year guard Tim Frazier scored five points on 1-for-5 shooting while logging a team-high 34 minutes.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers wanted to use the CBI to continue to develop his younger players for next year.
But they never found their comfort zone Monday night. Freshmen guards Geno Thorpe and Graham Woodward each scored five points. Sophomore center Jordan Dickerson only managed two points and one rebound in 13 minutes, playing just three minutes in the second half.
Both teams struggled offensively from the start.
Penn State took control first, jumping out in front 17-9 with 8:16 to play. But when Newbill went to the bench with two fouls and more than six minutes to play in the half, Siena took advantage.
The Saints erased a six-point deficit and went into halftime with a 25-21 lead.
Penn State went 8-for-28 from the field in the first half. Siena was 9-for-25.
The Saints came out strong in the second half, taking their largest lead of the game at 35-28 after back-to-back turnovers by Woodward and Thorpe led to consecutive Siena layups.
Penn State took a timeout with 13:51 to play.
Facing the seven-point deficit, Frazier and John Johnson checked back in for the freshmen guards. And Frazier immediately drilled a 3-pointer to start a Nittany Lions’ run.
Newbill knocked down another 3 to bring Penn State within one point. Frazier later found Thorpe for an open 3 to tie the game at 38-38.
The Nittany Lions finally had momentum. And they appeared to regain control after Thorpe’s breakaway dunk gave Penn State a 41-38 lead with 8:25 to play.
But Siena kept it close, tying it and trading leads behind Long heading into the final three minutes.
Long, a 6-foot-6 freshman, hit a left-handed hook shot through contact against 6-foot-9 forward Donovon Jack. He knocked down the free throw to tie the game. After a Newbill free throw, Long again went right at Jack on the left side and banked in a shot through contact. He missed the free throw and then hit 1-of-2 from the line on the next trip to push Siena ahead 44-42.
Brandon Taylor then swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Penn State a one-point lead. But once again, Long answered on the left block with a layup past Jack.
Long scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half.
Newbill hit another free throw to tie the game at 46-46 with 2:52 to go.
The Saints capitalized on their first chance to take the lead when Poole nailed an open 3-pointer. Newbill couldn’t finish on the other end, and Bisping hit a short hook shot to give Siena a five-point lead.
Penn State took a timeout with 1:20 left to mount a comeback and extend its season. The Nittany Lions did, cutting the deficit to one before tying it on a layup by Taylor with 9.3 seconds left.
But the Saints made one more big play.
Hymes took the ball straight to the basket and finished through a foul by Taylor. He missed the free throw, and Penn State got a timeout with 3.2 seconds to go.
The Nittany Lions’ chance to tie the game never materialized. Newbill caught the inbounds pass and stepped out of bounds, sealing Penn State’s fate and ending the season.