Derek Simpson tied his career high with 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point play in the closing seconds, Cam Spencer scored 11 of his 13 in the second half and Rutgers rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat Penn State 59-56 Sunday night.
Caleb McConnell added 12 points for Rutgers (18-11, 10-8 Big Ten) and Clifford Omoruyi scored nine points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Simpson, a 6-foot-3 freshman, went around a screen by Omoruyi, drove the right side of the lane and was fouled as he made a driving layup. He hit the and-1 free throw with 1:24 left to make it 57-56. Seth Lundy missed to 3-point shots on Penn State’s next offensive possession and, after Simpson missed a driving left-hand layup, Omoruyi grabbed the offensive rebound and his putback with 36 seconds to play capped the scoring.
Camren Wynter led (17-12, 8-10) with 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Lundy – who went into the game second on the Nittany Lions in scoring at 15.2 per game – finished with seven points and eight rebounds but made just 1 of 16 from the field, 0 of 11 from behind the arc.
Kebba Njie made a layup that gave Penn State a 10-point lead with 9:16 left in the game but the Nittany Lions went 0 for 14 from the field and committed five turnovers from there. McConnell scored seven points in an 11-1 run that made it 54-all when his 3-pointer capped the spurt with 2:36 remaining. Lundy made two free throws to put Penn State back in front about a minute later.
Penn State used a 21-2 first-half run to take a 16 point lead midway through the first half and Lundy’s dunk with 17:02 to play capped a 13-2 spurt to open the second half and gave the Nittany Lions a 42-23 lead. Spencer answered 15 seconds later with a 3-pointer and Oscar Palmquist made two more 3s as the Scarlet Knights scored 18 of the next 24 points to trim its deficit to seven points when McConnell made a layup with 10:37 to play.
Rutgers plays its final road game of the regular season Thursday at Minnesota
Penn State plays at No. 21 Northwestern on Wednesday
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