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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Game winner sends Indiana men’s basketball past Penn State, to Big Ten quarterfinals


No. 6 seed Indiana men’s basketball opened its Big Ten Tournament against No. 11 seed Penn State on Thursday night looking to avenge the Nittany Lions’ regular season sweep. Senior guard Anthony Leal secured an offensive rebound and followed with a layup with five seconds remaining to give Indiana a 61-59 win. 

Indiana jumped out to a 10-2 lead thanks to holding Penn State to a 1-for-11 start from the field, but a near-three-minute Hoosier scoring drought quickly made it a tie game. Still, Indiana’s defense held strong, and the Nittany Lions struggled. 

The interior presence of sophomore center Kel’el Ware combined with some unlucky rolls resulted in Penn State missing its first 13 layups of the game. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers utilized their size advantage to bruise their way to buckets at the rim. Indiana outscored Penn State 20-8 in the paint in the first half. 

Despite limiting the Nittany Lions to 7-for-33 (21.2%) in the first frame, the Hoosiers led by just 5 points at the break. Penn State made up for its shooting struggles at the foul line, shooting 10-for-11 to start compared to Indiana’s 2-for-2 mark at the stripe. 

Foul trouble became a concern for Indiana as three Hoosiers picked up two fouls in the first frame. Ware, Leal and sophomore forward Malik Reneau all committed infractions, causing more conservative play from the trio. 

Penn State shook off its first-half woes to open the final frame with a 15-4 run, taking its first lead of the game in the process. After making just seven field goals in the first 20 minutes, the Nittany Lions connected on five in the first 3:30 of the second half. The Hoosiers fought back with a 7-0 scoring response to take a 43-42 lead with 12 minutes remaining, creating a back-and-forth affair. 

The next five minutes featured six lead changes before Indiana took a 5-point lead, the largest margin on either side in a 10-minute span. The Hoosiers attacked the basket and continually earned trips to the free throw line.  

Foul trouble continued to plague both sides. With five minutes remaining, eight players had three or more fouls. Penn State junior guard Nick Kern Jr. fouled out with six minutes left, the first to do so in the contest. Reneau and freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako each picked up their fourth foul shortly after Kern, and the resulting free throws tied the game at 55 with 3:56 left. 

After trading free throws and exchanging leads, Indiana possessed the ball tied at 59 with 31 seconds. Leal got an offensive rebound off a Reneau miss and scored, then Penn State missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

The win sends Indiana to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals where it will face No. 3 seed Nebraska on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 25 minutes after the Illinois-Iowa quarterfinal that is slotted for 5:30 p.m. 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 

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