Penn State couldn’t get a 3-pointer to drop or a layup to fall.
For nearly nine minutes in the first half, the Nittany Lions went without a field goal as No. 24 Cincinnati built a comfortable lead and rolled to a 71-50 victory in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday.
Penn State (2-3) shot 28.6 percent from the field in the first half and 34.7 percent from the field for the game one day after falling to No. 1 Duke by 10 points.
“I was wary going into this game after playing and competing so hard yesterday and having such a quick team and playing an older team,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
Shep Garner led Penn State with 20 points, and Tony Carr finished with 10.
Kyle Washington finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Bearcats (3-1), who shot 50 percent from the field. Cincinnati outrebounded Penn State 40-26 and scored 34 points in the paint.
“We had some talks (last night),” said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. “You try to win with jump shots, you’re not going to make the NCAA tournament. We understand how to make it. You’ve got to play defense, got to rebound and you’ve got to do it with toughness.”
The Nittany Lions couldn’t recover from their poor shooting effort in the first half.
After Mike Watkins scored to cut Cincinnati’s lead to 14-9 with 10:38 left in the half, Penn State went cold on the offensive end.
Cincinnati capitalized, going on an 18-1 run to build a 32-10 lead.
Penn State went 0 for 8 from the field — including 0 for 6 from 3-point range — and had seven turnovers during the Bearcats’ run. The Nittany Lions missed nine straight shot attempts during their field-goal drought, which finally came to an end on a layup by Carr with 1:41 left before the break.
Penn State trailed Cincinnati 34-19 at halftime.
The Bearcats maintained their double-digit lead in the second half and led by as many as 26 in the decisive win.
Notes: No. 1 Duke beat No. 21 Rhode Island 75-65 in the tournament championship game. ... After missing two straight games due to injury, Isaiah Washington had three points and one rebound in six minutes Sunday. ... Josh Reaves did not play. Reaves has missed all five games this season due to a leg injury. ... Mike Watkins led Penn State with 11 rebounds. ... Penn State shot 5 for 20 from 3-point range. Garner went 4 for 11. ... Penn State finished with eight assists and 19 turnovers.