Penn State men lose, drop to 0-9 in Big Ten |

Penn State men lose, drop to 0-9 in Big Ten

The Associated Press

Rutgers players have vowed to avoid another last-place finish in the Big Ten. They took another step toward that goal by holding off a team that’s headed in the opposite direction.

Geo Baker scored 20 points, and the Scarlet Knights (10-9, 3-6 Big Ten) beat Penn State, 64-60, on Saturday to put a three-game cushion between themselves and the conference cellar, where they’ve finished every season since joining the Big Ten in 2014.

“This is the toughest league in the country, especially on the road,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We were a couple of points better.”

That was the case for much of the second half when Rutgers controlled the latter portion of the game, taking the lead for good on a 3-pointer from Baker that made it 57-53 with 3 minutes, 26 seconds to play.

The Nittany Lions (7-13, 0-9) pulled within a point less than two minutes later on a layup from Mike Watkins but wouldn’t get any closer as the Scarlet Knights shot 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.

Eugene Omoruyi and Montez Mathis chipped in 11 points apiece, and Shaq Carter pulled down a team-best seven rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, who won their second in a row.

“They jumped on us early, and we kind of settled down after a timeout and played some good basketball,” Pikiell said.

Lamar Stevens scored 21 points, and Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton added 11 each for the Nittany Lions, who lost their seventh in a row. Bolton missed a potential tying 3-pointer with less than a second left.

Penn State had opportunities early. The Nittany Lions led midway through the first half and opened the second half with a 7-2 run after trailing 30-26 at halftime.

“They go up, and we fight back,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “We get it to one point, and I just love the team’s grit. We’re this close to breaking through. I’m more optimistic walking out of this arena than I was a week ago.”