D.J. Newbill jogged down the court, nodding as he looked to the student section alongside the Bryce Jordan Center court.
Newbill’s 3-pointer pulled Penn State within three points and elicited another roar from the fans in a tense second half that saw the Nittany Lions storm back from a double-digit deficit to tie it with just less than nine minutes to play.
No. 19 Maryland appeared to regain control, building a six-point lead before Newbill’s 3-pointer made it a one-possession and kept Penn State’s hope alive for the final three minutes. Newbill swished another 3 to keep the Nittany Lions within one with 15 seconds left.
But Newbill’s game-tying attempt missed as the Terrapins edged Penn State 76-73 on Saturday night.
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“These are tough to swallow,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “The moral victories are no longer here.”
Newbill finished with 25 points to lead Penn State. Geno Thorpe added 17, and Brandon Taylor finished with 11.
Dez Wells paced Maryland with 22 points and Melo Trimble scored 20. Wells was 7 for 7 from the free-throw line, while Trimble went 12 for 12. The Terrapins knocked down 21 of 26 free throws (80.8 percent).
The star guard had a chance to send the game to overtime in the final seconds, but his 3-point attempt from the top of the key over Maryland’s Evan Smotrycz bounced off the rim and over the backboard.
“He just hit the same one,” Chambers said. “Double-high ball screen was working. I thought we did some good things out of it getting to the paint, prior possession same thing, drills the 3.
“I got to trust him in that shot. Back iron, looked pretty good, in rhythm, I thought it was good.”
Penn State (15-11, 3-10) led for more than 18 minutes in the first half and took a 34-33 advantage into the break.
But Maryland (21-5, 9-4) started the second half strong and took a 13-point lead with 14:13 left. Jared Nickens buried back-to-back 3-pointers to highlight the run, setting off a celebration from the Terrapin bench and pushing the lead to 55-42.
But the Nittany Lions didn’t crumble.
A hook shot by Jordan Dickerson and drive by Newbill cut the deficit to seven points. Penn State continued to chip away at the deficit until Shep Garner drilled a 3-pointer to make it 60-57.
The crowd roared after Taylor secured a rebound off a Maryland miss on the ensuing possession.
It erupted after Taylor swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie it 60-60. This time, Maryland called for a timeout. Taylor fired a fist pump and let out a scream as the Penn State bench enjoyed its own celebration.
“I thought tonight was just a high-level game,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I thought Penn State was terrific from beginning ‘til end. They had a stretch maybe they don’t feel good about to start the second half. They came right back at us.”
The teams battled for separation until the Terrapins took a 70-64 lead.
Trimble and Jake Layman each hit a pair of free throws before Layman hit a turnaround in the lane to push the advantage to six.
Newbill then followed with the 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three points with 3:04 left.
With Penn State trailing 70-68, Dickerson was called for an offensive foul when Smotrycz pulled him to the ground on the perimeter. Dickerson fouled out with 1:50 to play and Maryland took possession.
“That was the worst call I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Chambers said. “They’re pulling Jordan Dickerson down. … He got pulled down and they called a foul on him. It makes no sense.
“And if I didn’t complain, Newbill would have never got to the foul line because Trimble gets there 12 times and he’s a freshman and he’s on the road. It’s a joke. It’s a joke the way we’re officiated. It’s disappointing.”
Chambers said he felt it was a huge play that affected momentum.
Trimble finished a finger roll on the next possession to push Maryland ahead by four.
“But we got to take the refs out of the game,” Chambers said. “And we didn’t.”
Notes: Penn State hosts No. 5 Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Badgers beat the Nittany Lions 89-72 in the conference opener. … Penn State had two turnovers in the first half and seven turnovers for the game. PSU finished with 11 assists. … The Nittany Lions were 25 for 60 from the field (41.7 percent) and 9 for 23 from beyond the arc (39.1 percent).