Penn State clinged to hope for a victory into the final 60 seconds.
When No. 17 Maryland finally appeared to shake the Nittany Lions, Brandon Taylor kept his team alive with back-to-back 3-pointers. Taylor knocked down a 3-pointer over Maryland’s Jake Layman to end a three-minute drought and pull Penn State within two points. The forward released another 3 over the outstretched arm of Layman on the ensuing possession to send Penn State into the last minute down by one.
But Penn State never scored again and fell 64-58 to Maryland on Wednesday. Neither team led by double digits in a back-and-forth matchup that saw seven ties and 13 lead changes. The Nittany Lions (14-9, 2-8) led by one point twice in the second half but couldn’t gain any separation. The Terrapins (19-4, 7-3) finally put away Penn State with five free throws and two crucial defensive stops in the final 40 seconds.
Penn State’s D.J. Newbill went 6 for 19 to score a team-high 18 points. Geno Thorpe added 10, and Taylor chipped in with nine points in 16 minutes after missing the previous two games with a right knee injury.
Maryland’s Dez Wells scored a game-high 23 points, going 8 for 10 from the field and 5 for 6 from the line. Jon Graham, who was a member of the Penn State program from 2010-13, finished with a career-high 16 points and six rebounds. Layman had 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Terrapins took a 29-28 halftime lead behind Wells, who scored 12 points and gave his team the one-point lead with a drive just before the break.
Maryland threatened to pull away early in the second half behind a pair of big plays by Wells.
Terrapin guard Melo Trimble, who had eight assists, found a gap in Penn State’s zone and delivered a pass to a wide-open Wells in the corner for a 3-pointer to push the lead to 39-31. Penn State burned a timeout as Maryland started to build momentum with 15:45 to play.
The Terrapins appeared ready to create separation less than two minutes later, boosted by a highlight-reel finish by Wells.
Trimble stripped Payton Banks in transition and sent the ball ahead to Wells, who took one dribble to gather himself before taking flight for a right-handed dunk over Penn State’s Donovon Jack. The slam sent the Maryland crowd and bench into a frenzy, and Wells’ free throw to complete a three-point play pushed the Terrapins ahead 42-36.
But Penn State didn’t crumble, staying close as Newbill followed each big play by Wells with a 3-pointer.
The Nittany Lions then remained within at least three points before taking their first lead of the second half on a layup by Devin Foster.
Newbill went behind his back and dropped off a pass for Foster at the rim to make it 47-46 with 9:49 left.
Each team held a lead before a transition layup by Foster tied the game 52-52 with 4:59 to play
Maryland went ahead for good on a free throw by Damonte Dodd 20 seconds later. Penn State then committed a turnover, had a shot blocked and missed a shot in the next two-plus minutes as the Terrapins built a five-point cushion.
More than three minutes after Foster’s game-tying layup, Taylor drilled his first of consecutive 3-pointers.
After Wells hit a pair of free throws, Newbill used a pump fake to get Maryland’s Richaud Pack in the air. The Penn State guard then leaned in, trying to draw contact for a foul and tossed a shot at the basket. No foul was called, and Wells added another free throw to make it 62-58 with 23.1 seconds left.
Newbill missed a floater before the clock ticked under 10 seconds, completing Penn State’s second straight loss.
Penn State hosts Nebraska at 4 p.m. Saturday.