BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Jim Ferry apparently wasn’t interested in risking the fine.
Penn State’s interim basketball coached was provided the opportunity to vent about what could kindly be called a ticky-tack foul against junior guard Myles Dread that allowed Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to hit a game-tying free throw that sent Wednesday night’s game into overtime and a foul that wasn’t called on junior guard Sam Sessoms’ 3-point attempt on the other end.
The Hoosiers eventually won, 87-85, in Assembly Hall, claiming their first Big Ten win of the season and handing the Nittany Lions their third straight loss.
Ferry said he believed both calls should have gone his way, but ultimately held back in his comments.
“We got great referees,” Ferry said. “The Big Ten has the best referees in the country. These guys work extremely hard. Every play is such a bang-bang play.”
But later on, when discussing the play of junior guard Sam Sessoms, he mentioned that Sessoms made the shot that “should have been the game-winner” with 28 seconds to go to make it 80-79, showing what he really thought of thse.
SEE what Ferry had to say in this video tweet:
I personally thought Penn State got hosed on two calls late in regulation. I wrote about it here.
Here’s what interim coach Jim Ferry had to say when I asked about no call at end of regulation.https://t.co/DApjtaFubj pic.twitter.com/fe5mLjnDnr
— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) December 31, 2020
Indeed, the Nittany Lions in many ways earned the right to walk out of Assembly Hall with a road win. They shot 47.7 percent from the field and hit 12 3-pointers against an Indiana defense that was ranked 11th nationally in defensive efficiency coming into the game.
They rallied back from a nine-point deficit in the first half after another questionable call — a pass from Jackson-Davis that appeared to go out of bounds but was ruled in and turned into a 3-point shot by senior guard Al Durham — led to a technical foul against Ferry. They then battled back from a 12-point lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the second half.
But ultimately, the undersized Nittany Lions couldn’t get stops against an Indiana team determined to attack them off the bounce and in the post, scoring 50 points in the paint, and they came up empty in two late-game opportunities to win the game.
They had the ball with 7.7 seconds to go after Jackson-Davis’ made free throw in regulation, but Sessoms had his 3-point attempt blocked. Junior guard Izaiah Brockington also missed a makable look that would have tied the game late in the overtime period.
The Nittany Lions had plenty of bright spots. Junior guard Myreon Jones scored 20 points on just nine field goal attempts, hitting six of those, including four 3-pointers. When the Hoosiers did whatever they could to take Jones away, they relied on Sessoms, who finished with 17 points and three assists including what could have been the game-winner had it not been for the foul on Dread.
“Sam can get in the paint,” Ferry said. “Sam gets layups. Sam can get in there. We don’t get fouled very much, so we need someone who can get in the paint and get guys looks for us.”
The undersized Nittany Lions also won the rebounding battle 34-26 despite starting just one player taller than 6-6 against an Indiana front court with more size. Center John Harrar grabbed 10 rebounds himself. That comes after they were crushed 36-25 on the glass against Illinois in their 98-81 loss last week.
“I was extremely disappointed in our effort against Illinois,” Ferry said. “I thought we did a better job of it. We started blocking out. It was more collective. Collective toughness. Collective aggressiveness and rebounding the basketball. We gave ourselves a chance to win. You have to do that to win games in this league. You have to defend and rebound.”
The Lions didn’t defend quite well enough, however, allowing Indiana to shoot 57.1 percent from the field, and they head into the new year still without a Big Ten win.