Michael Renahan (@ImMikeRenahan)
Penn State has won back to back games for the first time this season after a solid shooting performance against the Delaware State Hornets.
The Nittany Lions were led by D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall in the 80-76 overtime victory. Penn State (6-4) also got solid production from Sasa Borovnjak, who played his best game of the 2012 campaign.
Newbill finished his day with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The sophomore has handled the offense well since taking over for the injured Tim Frazier, and helped get open looks for Marshall and Borovnjak.
Borovnjak finished with 14 points,making eight of 10 free throws, his best performance this year. The starter took his game to a whole new level after scoring just four points in his previous game against Army.
“Sasa is obviously capable; we see him in practice do it a lot,” Marshall said of his teammate. “He can score the basketball, he has great footwork so I think it’s huge just having a post player like him, have a breakout game.”
Delaware State (5-6) was able to battle back, with a Tyshawn Bell contested corner three tying the game at 69 as the teams headed to an overtime period.
In overtime, Penn State relied on solid defense, forcing Delaware State into bad shots and turnovers. Newbill was able to drive the lane and convert on a layup to give the Nittany Lions a 78-76 lead with 30 seconds left.
“We went to a high pick and roll and they switched, they left their big on me,” Newbill said after the game. “I just went for it. Coach just said if you see it,take it, take it with confidence, be a basketball player; don’t be a robot.”
Brandon Taylor converted on two free-throw attempts with 14 seconds left to seal the deal for Penn State.
Coach Patrick Chamber’s squad came out firing against Delaware state, starting the game with a 21-3 run. The Nittany Lions put together their best half shooting wise, going 13-for-22 (59.1 percent) from the floor.
Penn State went into the locker room at the end of the first half with a 37-29 lead. Newbill led the charge with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting. The guard, however, found himself in foul trouble early, going to the bench with three fouls and two minutes still left in the first half. He would finish the game, but he did end with four fouls.
Taylor, a freshman, looked much more consistent in the first half, taking open looks and converting on an early three-point attempt. He is by far the best three-point shooter for the Nittany Lions, shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc in 2012. He finished with seven points.
The Nittany lions had nine players go in the first half, keeping fresh legs on the court, something Chambers mentioned after he said his team looked tired against Army.
Penn State got a solid boost to start the second half from Donovon Jack.
Jack, just a freshman, finished the game with eight on 4-of-5 shooting. He was subbed out to a huge cheer from the fans, the freshman getting hugs from all his teammates for the best performance of his young Penn State career.
“I was very proud of him. We got him in early; I always tell a guy hey, we’re going to try to get you in early, just go out there and play with confidence and I think he did that for the most part,” Chambers said of Jack. “We’re going to need him as we approach the next game and the Big Ten obviously.”
Delaware state relied on the hot hand of junior guard Casey Walker. Walker, who averages 6.1 points a game, finished with 24 points on 8-of-19 shooting.
The junior ended his half with 14 points, converting on four of his six attempts from beyond the arc. He had help from Bell down the stretch, as Bell contributed 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting off the bench.
The Hornets answered the 21-3 run with a 19-5 run of their own to get within six of Penn State with just over three minutes left in the first half.
Delaware State started the game shooting 1-9 (11.1 percent) but finished strong ending the half just over 30 percent on 8-of-26 from the floor. They ended their day shooting 40 percent on 24-of-60 from the floor.
Tahj Tate, the leading scorer for the Hornets, had a quiet game. The guard could not get going against the Nittany Lion defense, finishing with just 10 points on 2-of-10 from the floor.
The Nittany Lions put together their first complete game of 2012 playing strong for the entire 40 minutes. They’re back in action December 23 against New Hampshire.