Richmond Times-Dispatch

Moment of Dread

Nittany Lion’s only basket, a 3-pointer, sinks visiting Rams at the buzzer

- BYWAYNE EPPS JR.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — For everything VCU did, Penn State had an answer— down to the final second.

The Rams led for only brief moments Wednesday night at the Nittany Lions’ Bryce Jordan Center. But they gave themselves a chance late, when they outscored Penn State 9-1 during an almost threeminut­e stretch to tie the game at 69 with 8.5 seconds left on the clock.

That gave Penn State the ball last.

On that possession, as the clock approached 1 second remaining, Jamari Wheeler found Myles Dread perched beyond the 3-point line on the right wing. Dread shot and the ball hit nothing but net.

Like the theme all night, when VCU swung, Penn State punched back. And Dread’s 3 was the knockout blow in a 72-69 Nittany Lions victory.

“We fought back, and they made one more play

than us here at the end of the game at home here,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “And I thought we had a chance to send it to overtime, get a stop and see what happens.

“I liked our effort today. Thought we shot ourselves in the foot too many times to find a way to get a road win.”

The Rams (2-2) never trailed by more than 8 points. But Penn State (2-0) didn’t allow the door to crack open too wide for VCU to stomp through, even when the Rams threatened.

VCU never led by more than 1— on three short occasions, two in the first half — because Penn State responded to each Rams run.

VCU surged with an 8-0 spurt down the stretch of the first half to take a lead before the Nittany Lions’ Sam Sessoms responded with a 3-point play to snatch it back.

VCU’s Tre Clark scored 5 straight points to give the Rams a lead just over six minutes into the second half. And after Penn State took it back, Clark made two free throws to tie it again. But Seth Lundy hit a 3-pointer to reclaim it.

Levi Stockard III tied it at 53 on free throws with 8:02 to play before another Sessoms basket.

Finally after Watkins tied it late, Dread hit his 3, his only basket of the night (1 of 5).

“We were switching all handoffs and ball screens there, and one of our guys got sucked in,” Rhoades said of the final possession. “And Dread didn’t make a shot all day. I thought we guarded him pretty well. And then we were just a little late getting out there. And he made a big-time shot.”

Lundy was a red-hot catalyst for Penn State (21), finishing with a careerhigh 32 points, scoring in a variety of ways. He had five 3-pointers. Lundy’s previous career high was 19.

Sessoms followed him with 17 points.

Shortly after Sessoms grabbed the lead back for Penn State in the second half following the Stockard free throws, the Nittany Lions scored three straight 3-pointers. Lundy hit two of those, and Sessoms the other.

Penn State led 64-56 at that point.

But the Rams didn’t wilt. Bones Hyland hit a 3 at the 2:59 mark, which catapulted them into a 7-0 run, capped by a pair of baskets by Hason Ward.

Sessoms hit a free throw with about 20 seconds left to make it 69-67, before Watkins tied it. But Dread went on to end it with his trey.

The VCU loss came despite a breakout night for Stockard, an offseason transfer from Kansas State. The 6-8 245-pounder had a season-high 13 points, anchoring the Rams’ post game.

Hyland had 11 points and six rebounds. Freshman point guard Ace Baldwin had 6 points, six assists, two steals and just one turnover.

KeShawn Curry left the game early in the second half before later returning to the bench with his left arm in a sling and ice taped to his left shoulder. Rhoades said after the game that Curry has a shoulder injury, but the extent is not yet known.

Rhoades also revealed that Jarren McAllister, who hadn’t yet played this year, has a torn ACL and will have surgery on it next week.

VCU will now return home for a stretch that includes five scheduled home games, starting with Mount St. Mary’s at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re going to be better because of [Wednesday’s] game,” Rhoades said. “It just stinks right now because we lost it at the buzzer and had an opportunit­y to win it.”

Note: Public spectators were not permitted for Wednesday’s contest, only guests of the teams, of which there appeared

 ??  ??
 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Penn State’s Myles Dread is hugged by teammate Jamari Wheeler after his buzzer- beating 3-pointer for the home victory over VCU onWednesda­y night. The loss dropped the Rams’ record to 2-2.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Penn State’s Myles Dread is hugged by teammate Jamari Wheeler after his buzzer- beating 3-pointer for the home victory over VCU onWednesda­y night. The loss dropped the Rams’ record to 2-2.
 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? VCU’s JamirWatki­ns passes the ball as Penn State’s Trent Buttrick defends during the Nittany Lions’home winWednesd­ay night. Watkins scored 5 points.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS VCU’s JamirWatki­ns passes the ball as Penn State’s Trent Buttrick defends during the Nittany Lions’home winWednesd­ay night. Watkins scored 5 points.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA