Penn State erased a 17-point second-half deficit to force overtime, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t finish the job Thursday night.
Penn State trailed the entire second half until guard John Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation to tie Charlotte and send it to overtime. The Nittany Lions and 49ers needed a second overtime to decide their opening game of the Charleston Classic. Charlotte led the the entire period to earn a 106-97 win.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said.
D.J. Newbill scored a career-high 35 points on 33 shots in 50 minutes to pace four players to score in double figures. Newbill’s total was the most by a Penn State played since Joe Crispin scored 35 against Iowa in 2001.
Newbill had a chance to win the game at the end of the first overtime. The guard drove down the right side of the lane, and Charlotte forward Cameron Blakley came across the paint to provide help. Newbill’s attempt went toward the side of the backboard, Blakley was credited with a block and the teams went to a second overtime with the teams tied 90-90.
“Going into the second overtime, I could see the guys were a little winded,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
Charlotte guard Braxton Ogbueze hit a pull-up jumper over Penn State’s Brandon Taylor to start the second overtime and the 49ers never looked back. Charlotte saw Penn State cut its lead to two points twice, but the 49ers pulled away in the final two minutes.
Ogbueze, a Florida transfer, led Charlotte with 26 points and went 11 for 11 from the foul line. 6-foot-11 center Mike Thorne finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds. The 49ers shot 49.2 percent from the field and finished 9 for 19 (47.4 percent) from beyond the arc.
“We’ve been working on this all offseason,” Ogbueze said. “We’re resilient.”
Charlotte opened up a 63-46 lead with 11:48 to play in regulation.
A Newbill turnover led to a transition opportunity for the 49ers. Pierria Henry led the break, dribbling into the lane toward Penn State’s Donovon Jack before hitting Ivan Benkovic for a wide-open 3-pointer.
Charlotte started hot from beyond the arc. The 49ers hit their first six 3-pointers and led the final 11:19 of the first half en route to building a 40-34 lead at the break.
Benkovic’s 3-pointer marked Charlotte’s biggest lead of the night after a strong start to the second half.
Newbill responded with a 3-pointer from the left corner to end an 8-0 run by Charlotte.
Penn State cut the deficit to nine points five times in the next six minutes.
After Taylor hit a pair of free throws to pull the Nittany Lions within 72-65, Charlotte’s Terrence Williams was called for a charge on a drive at the other end. That was the end of Williams’ night with just under four minutes to play. Williams finished with 13 points.
He was the first of three Charlotte starters to foul out in regulation.
Guard Pierria Henry — who had eight points, seven rebounds and five assists — fouled out a little bit more than a minute after Williams. Forward Willie Clayton joined his teammates on the bench with 1:37 remaining.
Ogbueze stepped up to score 10 points in the overtimes to lead Charlotte to the win.
“This was is all about T-E-A-M,” Major said. “We probably faced every situation you could out there.”
The Nittany Lions will face Cornell on Friday at 9 p.m. South Carolina beat Cornell 69-45 Thursday.