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Penn State Basketball

Slow Second Half Dooms Penn State in Loss to Minnesota

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Mike Rhoades

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— A stellar offensive run by Minnesota to open the second half gave the Golden Gophers all the momentum they needed after a shaky opening frame against Penn State on Saturday night.

After Kanye Clary’s layup to begin the second half gave Penn State its biggest lead of the game at 16 points, Minnesota jumped on a 23-5 run to take an advantage it would never surrender, as the Golden Gophers defeated the Nittany Lions 83-74 inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak and also ended a string of three consecutive losses to Penn State, which dropped to 9-11 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play.

Overall, the Nittany Lions have now lost back to back games and six of their last 10 after starting the 2023-24 season at 5-0.

Over two different spurts in the second half, the Nittany Lions went a total of 7:54 without a field goal, allowing the Golden Gophers to take the lead.

Minnesota knocked down four straight shots and two free throws to ignite a 12-0 run after Clary’s bucket. The Golden Gophers then scored nine of the next 12 points, capped off by Elijah Andrews’ pair of free throws with 13:22 to go, to go ahead.

Penn State trailed by as many as seven at 66-59, but eventually tied the game at 70-all on Zach Hicks’ jumper with 2:50 to go.

Minnesota capitalized on an and-one by Dawson Garcia with 1:05 remaining to go up 74-71, but Joshua Ola-Joseph snared the offensive rebound from the ensuing free throw and converted another layup and foul shot to put the game out of reach.

The Nittany Lions were held without a field goal until Puff Johnson’s layup with nine seconds remaining.

Penn State’s second half performance was a near complete opposite of the first half, where the Nittany Lions shot 53 percent from the floor and dished out 11 assists. In the final 20 minutes, Penn State posted a 35 percent field goal percentage with just three assists.

In the first half, Nittany Lions went ahead by using a 22-2 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 14-point lead. Penn State hit eight of 10 shots during the spurt and held Minnesota scoreless for 4:36.

Penn State led 45-31 at the half, capitalizing on seven Minnesota turnovers and recording 24 points in the paint before the Golden Gophers took the contest back over.

Garcia scored a game-high 20 points for the Golden Gophers.

Four Nittany Lions scored in double-figures, led by Ace Baldwin, Jr.’s 16 points. Qudus Wahab tallied 15 points, while Clary and Nick Kern each added 11.

The Nittany Lions will be back in action on Wednesday when they visit Rutgers.

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