Penn State hosted Lafayette on Wednesday night in a game that featured a pregame snow squall, Jim Burr and one team shooting ice cold. Would we be in for a red-line upset?
Last year, I started writing stadium and arena reviews. My first basketball review was at Lafayette where SID Philip LaBella was gracious enough to give me a credential, something that really helped me out all season long, as I wound up getting credentialed at all sorts of schools, including West Virginia, Pitt and Penn State. LaBella also took almost 20 minutes of his night to talk with me and seemed genuinely interested in our conversation. I will say it is something that meant a lot to me and turned me into a closet Lafayette fan.
While I will always be a Penn State fan, I always check up on what Lafayette is doing, so it was natural that I made sure to take off work for this game. About an hour before the opening tip, it decided to snow like crazy, making travel a bit difficult. I live just a few miles away, so I was able to make the trek safely and in time for the game. Once there, I realized I was about the only fan who did decide to make the game.
Once the game started, it was apparent that the big storyline was going to be the always zany and unpredictable refereeing of Jim Burr. In case you don't remember, Burr and his crew had to withdraw from officiating the Big East tournament last year after this blown call.
There was a point in the game where a Lafayette player was down on the floor hurt, but Burr allowed play to continue at the other end of the court for almost the entire shot clock. Right before Penn State slammed a put-back, Burr finally blew his whistle to stop play, costing the Nittany Lions two points. Another time, it took more than two minutes for him to figure out that a Lafayette player had called timeout when in fact the team had none left, resulting in a technical foul. It amazes me how Burr is always able to be the center of controversy.
The other main factor in the game was Penn State inability to make shots, hitting 3 of 23 3-point attempts and its leading scorer, Tim Frazier, going 0-for-12 from the floor. The defensive efforts of Lafayette helped, but even a bad team should make 3-pointers at a rate better than 13%.
Lafayette took a 17-16 lead with 10:35 left to play in the first half and never trailed again. The closest Penn State got was within two points with 2:12 to play, but bad decisions and poor shooting cost the Nittany Lions a chance to stop the red line upset. Lafayette's 2-3 zone was perfect against the offensive sets the Nittany Lions were trying to execute.
In fact, it was Penn State's first ever loss to a Patriot League team and a game that I am sure the Leopards players will remember forever. A great team effort win.
LAFAYETTE 61, at PENN STATE 57 12/07/2011
LAFAYETTE 4-5 (0-0) -- R. Delaney 0-7 2-2 2; J. Mower 3-8 8-9 14; R. Willen 1-3 1-2 3; S. Hinrichs 4-9 2-3 14; N. Petkovich 4-11 1-2 13; J. Ptasinski 3-6 0-0 7; D. Trist 3-3 2-2 8; J. Pelham 0-0 0-0 0; A. Flannigan 0-0 0-0 0; L. Smith 0-0 0-0 0; L. Giese 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-47 16-20 61. PENN STATE 6-4 (0-0) -- T. Frazier 0-12 3-4 3; B. Oliver 3-7 0-0 7; J. Marshall 5-13 9-11 20; C. Woodyard 4-7 2-2 10; M. Glover 0-6 1-2 1; R. Travis 5-5 1-7 12; S. Borovnjak 1-4 0-0 2; N. Colella 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 19-58 16-26 57.
Three-point goals: LAF 9-30 (R. Delaney 0-4; J. Mower 0-3; N. Petkovich 4-10; R. Willen 0-1; J. Ptasinski 1-3; S. Hinrichs 4-9), PSU 3-23 (C. Woodyard 0-3; B. Oliver 1-5; J. Marshall 1-4; T. Frazier 0-5; N. Colella 0-3; M. Glover 0-2; R. Travis 1-1); Rebounds: LAF 25 (N. Petkovich 8), PSU 44 (J. Marshall 9); Assists: LAF 15 (R. Delaney 9), PSU 14 (T. Frazier 9); Total Fouls -- LAF 19, PSU 18; Fouled Out: LAF-None; PSU-None.