Austin Lederman (@austinlederman)
A group effort prevented Penn State from dropping back-to-back games for the first time this season in a victory over the Pennsylvania Quakers by a score of 58-47 on Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center.
A balanced scoring attack led by Jermaine Marshall’s 18 points gave Penn State the edge it needed in this game. Sharing ball handling duties with Marshall, D.J. Newbill had a very good game as well, reaching double-digits for the sixth time this season by scoring 13 points (5-of-8), dishing out five assists, grabbing five rebounds, and garnering four steals. Ross Travis was a presence on the glass today grabbing eight rebounds, and he chipped in seven points as well.
Reserve guard Nick Colella did all the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, from diving for loose balls, taking charges, and being in the right spot at the right time on defense. Freshman Brandon Taylor had another strong outing, posting 11 points, all of which came in the first half, and grabbing six rebounds.
Penn State (4-3) entered the locker room with a 31-22 lead over the Quakers, due in part to a ridiculous three-point shooting performance. The Nittany Lions shot 71.4 percent from downtown (5-of-7) mostly because of the aforementioned Taylor who shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
“He knows his role is to look for three,” Chambers said. “He’s gotta do a little bit better job of mixing things up. Shoot threes, post up, he’s got a really good mid-range game, so he has to continue to do that. He needs to be an impact player for us. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time to be a freshman.”
For a Nittany Lion team that has shot 24.2% from beyond the arc, it must’ve been a pleasant surprise for Chambers to see his team shoot so efficiently. The three-point shooting fell back down to earth in the second half and the Nittany Lions ended the game shooting 33.3 percent (5-of-15).
It was a very physical game from the opening tip, with both teams getting after it on the defensive end. Penn State got to the free throw line often, and converted 73.9 percent of their attempts (17-of-23).
Though Penn State resides about 200 miles away from the Big 5 region, Chambers grew up in the Philadelphia area and he understands the history and style of play of a team from the great group of schools.
“To me it’s a Big 5 game,” Chambers said. “I grew up with the Big 5 so for us to have a lead in the first half was huge. For us to score 31 points, again yesterday I worked on first four minutes twice. We did jump ball, we did the whole thing to try to get off to good starts.”
Penn (2-6) turned the ball over four times in the first four minutes of the second half, and Penn State took advantage. D.J. Newbill scored on consecutive fast-break dunks to give the Nittany Lions a 35-24 lead.
Both teams struggled to score in the beginning of the second half with the Nittany Lions shooting 2-of-11 and Penn shooting 2-of-8. Miles Cartwright came out of a timeout with a made three to cut Penn State’s lead to 35-29.
The Quakers cut Penn State’s lead to 43-37 after a Tony Hicks layup with a little under eight minutes remaining, and then Steve Rennard cut the lead to four after sinking two free throws.
The Quakers’ leading scorers on the season, Fran Dougherty and Miles Cartwright, struggled to get on track in this game. They finished a combined 5-of-19 for 11 points.
Marhsall answered for Penn State with 6:16 remaining to extend Penn State’s lead to 6. Back-to-back buckets for Jon Graham gave Penn State a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining.
Penn went on a quick 4-0 run after a timeout to cut the lead down to 6 with 3:46 remaining. Marshall sank two free throws for Penn State to give them a 52-44 lead with just about two minutes to go.
Jamal Lewis dragged Marshall to the ground on a breakaway, leading to an ejection and two more points for Marshall with 1:44 left in the contest. A driving layup on the ensuing possession by Newbill all but sealed the victory for Penn State.
Penn State will travel to the Palestra to take on its second and final Big 5 opponent of the season, La Salle, on Wendesday at 9:00 p.m.