Penn State coach Patrick Chambers was whistled for a technical foul with his team trailing Michigan State by two points late in the second half.
Chambers received the technical after arguing an offensive foul call on center Jordan Dickerson as he tried to set a screen for guard D.J. Newbill on the perimeter. It led to a six-point run by Michigan State that expanded the lead to eight points with just more than three minutes to play.
It proved to be the decisive stretch in Penn State’s 66-60 loss to the Spartans at the Breslin Center on Wednesday. It was Penn State’s sixth straight loss to open Big Ten play, marking the third straight year the program has started 0-6 in the league. Penn State pulled even with Michigan State seven times in the second half, but the Nittany Lions never took the lead.
“It gave them momentum and they hit a big 3 and I take full blame and I got to control my emotions,” Chambers said of the technical. “And no matter what’s happened, I can’t let the frustrations of losing and years past get to me and that’s what happened.”
Newbill carried the team offensively again, finishing with a game-high 27 points on 10 for 22 shooting. Brandon Taylor added 10 points.
Michigan State’s Branden Dawson scored 12 points to lead five Spartan players in double figures. Dawson also grabbed 10 rebounds, while teammate Gavin Schilling had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“After the other games we’ve played, we’ll take the win and move forward and see if we can get better,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “But I feel for Penn State. They’re playing good enough. They’re a good team with one of the best players in the league.”
Penn State (12-7) had stayed within at least four points of the Spartans during the first 16-plus minutes of the second half.
Michigan State (13-6, 4-2) led 53-51 with 3:41 to play when the game turned after Chambers was called for the technical.
Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine went 1-for-2 at the line before Bryn Forbes drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to push the advantage to six points. Newbill was stripped on a drive to the rim on the ensuing possession, leading to a breakaway layup by Spartan guard Travis Trice.
In 38 seconds, Penn State’s deficit grew from two points to eight — 59-51 with 3:03 remaining — matching the Spartans’ largest lead of the game.
“People look at Penn State differently, and I’m tired of it,” Chambers said. “But I hurt my team tonight.”
The Nittany Lions pulled within three points in the final three minutes but couldn’t recover.
Penn State went 11 for 19 (57.9 percent) from the field in the tight second half. Newbill accounted for 18 of the team’s 32 points in the final 20 minutes.
“He can’t do it all,” Chambers said of Newbill. “We put a lot of pressure on him to make plays. They switched everything, which makes it more difficult for him. We got to continue to share the basketball. Obviously down the stretch, he took a little more shots and the last three minutes of the game because we were down.”
Newbill knocked down a jumper and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to keep Penn State tied with less than 10 minutes to go. Penn State guard Shep Garner then hit a pair of big shots, swishing a corner jumper with the shot clock winding down and nailing a 3-pointer. The shots tied the game for the fifth and sixth times, respectively.
Newbill knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game for the seventh and final time, 51-51, with 4:51 left.
Valentine answered with a jumper to put the Spartans up for good.
“If we play like that the next 12 games, this thing’s going to switch,” Chambers said. “It’s going to flip and people are going to be scared to play Penn State.”