Just like Penn State's season as a whole, the team's last game of the 2014 campaign was a back-and-forth affair filled with splashes of hope. However, both the game and the season ended with the Lions on the wrong end of a 54-52 game on the road at Siena.
The game could have been over when Saints forward Brett Bisping connected on a hook shot to put Siena up by five with 1:23 left in the game. Penn State's D.J. Newbill was there to play the hero again, though. The junior guard hit a 10-foot jumper to draw the Lions to within three and then hit a pair of free throws after a Siena turnover.
The Saints answered with a home run pass to Marquis Wright, but his layup attempt was thwarted by a Geno Thorpe foul. Wright landed hard on the floor, and an apparent head injury prevented him from taking a pair of free throws.
Lavon Long stepped to the line instead, but he only made one of the two shots to give Siena a two-point lead with 18 seconds left. Newbill looked to answer with a runner. It missed, but the rebound was tipped to Brandon Taylor, who banked in an equalizing layup with nine seconds to play.
Although Penn State had played solid defense all night, it could not prevent Evan Hymes from driving all the way to the rim and hitting the winning layup while absorbing a foul from Taylor. Perhaps the Lions were more worried about Bisping -- who would have had more than 12 points and 12 rebounds had he not landed in foul trouble in the second half -- or Lavon Long, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Either way, it was up to Newbill to respond again. A miss at the free throw line meant that Penn State could win with a three pointer. Newbill caught Graham Woodward's long inbounds pass with three seconds to go, but in an effort to get around Long he stepped out of bounds, effectively ending the game.
Siena students proceeded to rush the court in a move that would surely outrage some national sports writer if any of them were watching the game.
The game started out pretty well for the Lions, as they were boosted by a bunch of Siena turnovers. Penn State did a good job protecting the ball on the other end, but the team kept Siena in the game by shooting just 29 percent from the field and failing to convert at the rim. Eventually, Siena's offense began clicking, and Bispring's eight first half points lifted the Saints to a 25-21 advantage after 20 minutes.
The second half didn't start much better for Penn State, with frustrations mounting when John Johnson missed a wide open layup attempt coming off of a steal. Pat Chambers's team would turn things around, though. Thorpe made a few nice plays with a pass to Donovon Jack for a dunk, a clutch three-pointer, and a steal that led to a layup. Newbill, meanwhile, found his scoring touch to keep Penn State in the game until late.
In the end, though, there was not enough offense on the Lions' side to win this one. It's actually kind of amazing that they were able to keep it so close for so long while shooting 30 percent from the floor. Tim Frazier (1-for-5), Ross Travis (0-for-3), and Johnson (1-for-8) were the main culprits, but all would have been okay if the team hadn't missed 10 of its 22 free throw attempts.
Siena, despite turning the ball over 16 times, was a lot more efficient when it put the ball in the air. 40 percent field goal shooting was just enough to win this gritty contest.