Andrew Koob (@AndrewKoob)
The Penn Quakers (1-2) followed up a poor first-half showing with a much-improved second half, but couldn’t right their early wrongs in a 83-71 loss to Penn State .
Penn State (2-1) was fueled by a 29-point, seven assist performance from senior guard Tim Frazier, who shot 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) from the field. Backcourt teammate D.J. Newbill also scored in double-figures, netting 19 points and six rebounds.
“It was great, just to get the opportunity just to play basketball in a great place with so much background, against a great team and against a great coach,” Frazier said. “It was an honor to step out on the court and be able to participate this year, especially after sitting out last year.”
Penn, working down low with the Penn State bigs looking at foul trouble, was led by Darien Nelson-Henry’s 21-point and five rebound showing and Tony Hicks and Fran Dougherty, who each scored 14 points.
Coupled with good ball movement and a hot-shooting Nittany Lion squad, the Quakers had trouble defending throughout most of the first half. Penn State started the game off hot from all over the court. Led by Frazier, the Nittany Lions shot a blistering 19-of-32 (59.4 percent) from the field and 6-of-15 (40 percent) from deep. Penn State finished the game going 29-of-54 (53.7 percent) from the field.
“He dominated the game,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said of Frazier. “He played at his pace, he got whatever he wanted, whether it was in the paint for himself or making the extra pass and finding guys for open shots. We just struggled to defend him and he’s a pretty talented player, I just think that our will to not allow him to dominate wasn’t present. To his credit, he made plays and not only got himself involved, but got other guys involved and we just couldn’t do anything with him.”
The Quakers, on the other hand, had trouble getting anything going from the field. A 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) shooting performance from the field didn’t help them as they fell into an early and large deficit. A better second half helped Penn’s average, as they finished 20-of-48 (41.7 percent) overall.
The Quakers had problems making the smart pass and holding onto the ball, committing nine turnovers that led to 12 first half points. Overall, Penn committed 12 turnovers leading to 17 points. Coming into the game, Penn had forced an average of 16 turnovers in their two previous games against Temple and Monmouth.
Penn brought the early deficit to within seven points thanks to some tough interior play by Nelson-Henry, but Penn State responded with a 12-0 run of their own. The lead ballooned to over 20 as the Nittany Lions jumped to a 47-24 halftime lead.
As the second half opened up, and with the Penn State bigs on the bench with foul trouble, Penn looked to their big guy to make a move. Following a Brandon Taylor jumper, the Quakers went on a 10-0 run, sparked by five straight Nelson-Henry points, to bring the lead down to 15 points.
“I think that should be something we do throughout the whole game, not just me personally as a big, but our guards and perimeter players should be more aware because of the new foul rules that they’re calling,” Nelson-Henry said. “I think we could get their bigs in foul trouble before the first half even ends, that’s what they’re doing to us so we might as well do the same thing. Then we can play our advantages from there.”
The new restrictions on foul-calling played a big role for both squads on Saturday; Penn took 40 trips to the line, converting on 27 of them (67.5 percent) while Penn State went 18-of-23 (78.3 percent).
After another Penn State run, the Quakers started to whittle away at the lead again, this time with some high-intensity defense. Patrick Lucas-Perry and Henry Brooks came up with steals that led to layups and fouls that helped cut the Nittany Lion lead down to 12.
Following a back-and-forth affair in the late stages of the second half, Penn started to work again at cutting the lead down, having a chance to knock it down to single-digits. But, following a missed Lucas-Perry corner three, Penn wasn’t able to get the lead to under 12 points the rest of the way.