Penn State Basketball

Penn State men’s basketball: Russell pushes Ohio State past Nittany Lions in second half

Penn State's Geno Thorpe (13) goes to the basket on Wednesday during the Nittany Lions’ 77-67 loss to No. 23 Ohio State.
Penn State's Geno Thorpe (13) goes to the basket on Wednesday during the Nittany Lions’ 77-67 loss to No. 23 Ohio State. CDT photo

Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell received a pass at the top of the key and fired away without hesitation.

Russell had connected on two straight 3-pointers to push the Buckeyes ahead. He needed just a split second to release his third straight 3 to find the bottom of the net, part of Russell’s 11-point run that highlighted No. 23 Ohio State’s decisive second-half run against Penn State.

The freshman guard scored a game-high 28 points as the Buckeyes beat 77-67 Penn State in Big Ten play at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night.

“He took over the game,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “That was the difference. And then everybody got hot. It seemed like we couldn’t get a stop for a while there. I mean everybody made a shot.”

The Buckeyes shot 52 percent from the field in the second half to send Penn State to its sixth straight loss on Senior Night.

Senior guard D.J. Newbill paced Penn State with 17 points, while senior forward Ross Travis matched a season-high with 14. Newbill, who went 5 for 15 from the field, surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his college career. Travis shot an efficient 6 for 8 and pulled down eight rebounds in his final home game.

Newbill, Travis and fellow seniors Kevin Montminy and Alan Wisniewski were honored before the game.

“It’s nice to feel appreciated and to thank all the fans that supported us seniors throughout these four years,” Travis said.

Montminy and Wisniewski, who both joined the program as walk-ons, started alongside Newbill, Travis and sophomore guard Geno Thorpe.

They checked out with the game tied 6-6 with 17:39 left in the first half.

“They deserve it,” Newbill said of the senior reserves. “Those guys are selfless, they come in every day knowing that they probably won’t get in the games and they come in every day, lift in the morning, work hard in practice and help me and Ross lead the team. You can’t really put words on what they’ve been to this program.”

Penn State (15-15, 3-14) took a 30-29 lead into halftime behind 12 points from Travis.

The Nittany Lions then opened the second half on an 8-0 run.

Thorpe finished a pair of layups before Travis got an up-and-under move to fall, leading to an Ohio State timeout with 18:08 left. Thorpe then used a crossover to get into the lane, drawing Ohio State’s Trey McDonald, and found Jordan Dickerson for a dunk.

The 8-0 run spanned 2:30.

In the next 10 minutes, Ohio State (22-8, 11-6) outscored the Nittany Lions 33-8.

Russell scored 17 points during the stretch that saw Ohio State turn a nine-point deficit into a 16-point lead.

“It definitely makes me a better coach,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said of Russell’s run. “I think from that standpoint, there’s no doubt about it, we were struggling a little bit from the free-throw line, he started banging some shots, he started making free throws. The great thing about D’Angelo is it’s not just the scoring. He’ll find guys too and I think our guys can feed off of that.”

Russell hit a pair of free throws before knocking down three straight 3-pointers that gave Ohio State a 46-42 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Russell came up with a steal and finished a transition layup through a foul on Thorpe. He skipped out to the free-throw line, where he completed the three-point play.

Russell later swished a 3-pointer over Shep Garner that pushed the lead to 14 points.

“He only needed a crease to get shots off,” Chambers said. “He got hot. Obviously our game plan was geared to him. We blitzed him a ton. We tried to keep the ball out of his hands. You got to make shots because if you don’t make shots, you can’t get into those defenses, so when there’s missed shots, you can’t go and take him out of the game because you’re in a transition defense situation.”

Penn State went 2 for 14 from the field during Ohio State’s 33-8 run capped by Sam Thompson’s jumper with 7:44 left. The Buckeyes went 9 for 12 during the same stretch.

The Nittany Lions cut the deficit to nine points with just less than two minutes but never got any closer.

“I thought that run was the difference,” Chambers said. “It kind of took the wind out of our sails.”

Notes: Penn State finishes the regular season at Minnesota at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Nittany Lions beat the Golden Gophers 63-58 on Jan. 28. The Big Ten tournament starts Wednesday in Chicago. ... Newbill has scored 610 points this year after scoring 604 last year. He is the third player in program history to score 600 in two seasons, joining Talor Battle and Joe Crispin. ... Penn State went 22 for 52 (42.3 percent) from the field and 3 for 17 from beyond the arc on Wednesday. ... Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate and Shannon Scott each scored 13 points.

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