Austin Lederman (@austinlederman)
Penn State lost more than just a game in the fifth-place contest in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament, in which the Akron Zips defeated the Nittany Lions 85-60 after going on a 24-4 run early in the second half.
The biggest news of the day was that Tim Frazier played only six minutes before an apparent injury to his Achilles in a pick-and-roll situation that ended up in a turnover. Frazier did not return for the rest of the game.
With Frazier out, D.J. Newbill took over point guard duties for the remainder of the game. He ended the first half with a double crossover to shake his defender and softly floated in a teardrop to give Penn State (2-2) a 36-32 lead.
Penn State was able to weather the storm in the first half without Frazier but didn’t fare as well in the second half.
“I felt like we played a great first 20 minutes, but when you lose a player of the caliber of a Tim Frazier and he’s your point-guard as well, its very difficult,” Pat Chambers told the media afterwards about his team. “He’s a high production player, and we just couldn’t sustain it in the second half.”
Akron (3-2) made some defensive adjustments at halftime and applied full court pressure with Frazier out and Newbill relegated to the point. Penn State really struggled with the pressure and looked out of sync the entire second half.
“We tried to keep it together,” Chambers said. “We work on it in practice all the time (playing without Frazier), just not for that long of a period, but we just weren’t able to do it. We have to pick up the pieces and continue to get better. We have to figure out how we are going to play and compete with the group we have for as long as we may not have Tim.”
Chauncey Gilliam gave Akron a lead with 19:20 left in the second half, but Jon Graham answered with an and-1 layup and converted the free throw to give Penn State a 39-37 lead in what would be Penn State’s last lead of the game.
A Demetrius Treadwell jumper sparked a 24-4 run in which Akron made nine straight field goals to extend its lead to 61-43 with 11:09 in the second half.
Zeke Marshall dominated the paint, scoring 17 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking six shots. Three other players–Treadwell, Brian Walsh and Jake Kretzer–scored in double-digits for the Zips.
“I thought Zeke Marshall played a tremendous game and obviously really impacted our ability to score around the basket with his great shot blocking ability,” Chambers said. “He’s the son of a great Penn State alum in Jon Marshall and I was happy for him.”
Newbill scored a career high 20 points (8-of-15) to lead the Nittany Lions and Ross Travis had notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Brandon Taylor played the best game of his collegiate career so far, scoring 10 points and grabbing three rebounds.
Penn State never cut the lead to single digits in a second half that was dominated by the Zips. The Nittany Lions will return to Happy Valley and take on Bucknell in the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday, November 23 at 4:30 p.m.