The Penn State Nittany Lion men’s basketball team headed to the nation’s capital Wednesday to open round one of the Big Ten Conference Basketball Tournament and defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 76-67 in overtime.
Thanks to a stellar performance from redshirt freshman Mike Watkins, who recorded a double-double and tallied eight blocks, the Lions are still alive in the tournament.
“We worked hard in practice, we defended and rebounded. Practice was very good,” Watkins said in the post-game press conference. “I knew coming into this game, it was going to be very good for me.”
Penn State (15-17, 6-12 Big Ten), went back and forth with Nebraska (12-19, 6-12 Big Ten), in the first half and lead the Husker 38-33 at halftime. In the second half, the game was close up until the very end of regulation, and the two teams went into overtime locked at 60 points each.
In overtime, Penn State was able to outscore Nebraska 16-7 thanks to junior Shep Garner, who scored 7 of the team’s overtime points and shot 4 for 7 throughout the game to give the Lions another day in the Big Ten Tournament.
For the Husker, Evan Taylor led with 15 points and senior guard Tai Weber struggled throughout the game, shooting 4 for 16 and eventually fouling out with 12 points.
Following the game, Penn State Head Coach Pat Chambers had nothing but compliments for his team’s effort. “Proud of my team. Down the stretch, end of February, March, we had some difficult losses,” he said. “I felt like we were still competing, playing hard, getting better.”
Up next for the Lions is the second round of the tournament against Michigan State on Thursday afternoon. Fans can tune in at 2:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.