Anna Pitingolo (@anna_pitingolo)
It's gotten ugly this season for the Nittany Lions, but never as ugly as it was the first half of Wednesday night's game against No. 5 Wisconsin.
Just how bad was it?
D.J. Newbill was the only player to score a point for Penn State for 75 percent of the half.
The Big Ten's leading scorer (20.8 ppg) had the first 12 points for Penn State. The first Nittany Lion to score not named D.J. Newbill was Brandon Taylor, who finally sunk one from behind the arc with 5:04 left in the half. After that, Newbill either scored or assisted every single basket of the half.
"I was just trying to do whatever I can to keep my team in the game," Newbill said. "Those guys, they rely on me to do a lot and I rely on them to do a lot but I just had to roll with it so I just kept shooting."
Penn State (15-12, 3-11 Big Ten) eventually fell, 55-47, but the game wasn't as close as the score makes it seem.
Nothing was going right for Penn State the entire game. Shots constantly spun out the basket or were completely missed altogether, with only 38.9 percent going in (21-for-54).
Even with all that, the Nittany Lions almost mounted a comeback for the ages, going on a 9-0 run to get the game to within five with four minutes left after being down by as many as 16 points.
"I was so proud of my team tonight," head coach Pat Chambers said. "They cut it to five and we had the ball. That's a huge accomplishment for this group. They (Wisconsin) had a huge lead and we didn't give up, we kept competing, we kept fighting and they battled, they battled all the way back. I like to think that we gave ourselves a chance...it was just a little too late."
But six straight points from Frank Kaminksy kept the Lions at bay, and squashed any hope of an upset. The game was Penn State's ninth single-digit Big Ten loss of the season.
Newbill finished with 29 points, 11 more than the rest of the team combined. But the close to 30-point effort was nothing to celebrate for the senior.
"Points mean nothing to me if we lose the game," Newbill said.
Penn State's defense kept the game from getting completely out of hand, finishing with 28 rebounds and grabbing five steals. Ross Travis had a team-high eight rebounds, enough to give him sole possession of third place on the school's career rebound list with 768.
"I felt like we were in the game because of D.J. Newbill and our defense," said Chambers.
Newbill finished with 16 of Penn State's 24 first half points. Despite the slow start from the rest of the Nittany Lions, an 11 minute stretch that saw Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten) only hit two field goals helped Penn State climb its way back into the game, only trailing 31-24 at half.
Sam Dekker had a career-high 22 points for the Badgers, followed by 16 from Kaminksy and 9 from Nigel Hayes.
Penn State travels to Illinois to take on Northwestern on Saturday. Tip is set for 3 p.m.