Penn State beats in-state rival Penn

Story posted December 2, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Eric DeBerardinis

Penn State men’s basketball head coach, Pat Chambers, had concerns about getting off to a good start, so he decided to simulate the fist four minutes of game action twice in Friday’s practice. Despite a few sloppy moments early on, the preparation paid off, as the Nittany Lions (4-3) defeated the in-state foe Penn Quakers (2-6), 58-47. Shooting woes that have plagued Penn State were non-existent in Saturday’s first twenty minutes.

“For us to have a lead, it was huge,” said Chambers, who also considered mixing up his starting lineup to get off to a quicker start. 

Through six games, Penn State was averaging just 23.7 points in the first half to go along with 31.6% shooting. On Saturday they improved drastically to the tune of 31 points, 47% shooting from the field, and 71% from behind the three-point arc.

The Nittany Lions initially struggled to adapt to Penn’s defensive pressure, but soon found a remedy, on their way to one of their better halves in the young season.

“We had a few early turnovers,” said Jermaine Marshall. “But for the most part we adjusted.”

Penn head coach, Jerome Allen, called for the ball-handler to constantly be double-teamed, especially on the pick-and-roll. After a few minutes, the combination of DJ Newbill and Marshall were able to solve the pressure, finding teammates for open looks.

“If they are going to double team, we are going to make them pay for it,” said Newbill.

Freshman, Brandon Taylor, gave the Nittany Lions an edge in the first half with his outside shot. Taylor connected on three of four 3-point attempts and led the team in scoring at halftime with 11 points. Taylor didn’t score in the second half, but contributed defensively, achieving a career-high in minutes played with 31.

Penn State led 31-22 at halftime.

In previous games, Newbill received a majority of the point guard responsibilities, but that shifted to Marshall on Saturday.

“I’m not a pure point guard, neither is Jermaine,” said Newbill. “We kind of tag team, work together, it helps a lot.”

Chambers says he delegates the ball-handling duties based off instinct, and whoever seems less tired of the two. Even though Newbill plays more natural as an off guard, and Marshall says he is still not 100% confident bringing the ball up, their head coach was impressed. The Nittany Lions turned the ball over just 11 times against the Quakers.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction of taking care of the basketball,” said Chambers.”

Marshall was recently anointed an honorary captain by Chambers, due to his on-court improvement along with his leadership. The redshirt junior led all scorers on Saturday, with 18 points, which was highlighted by 9-10 shooting from the free-throw line.

The Nittany Lions opened strong in the second frame. Two Newbill dunks pushed Penn State to a 13-point advantage, the biggest margin of the game.

The closest Penn got in the second half was four points, but Penn State refused to relinquish the lead, constantly going on mini-runs as the Quakers trimmed the deficit.

Ross Travis led the team with 8 rebounds and showed more aggressiveness offensively, finishing with 7 points. Travis hobbled to the bench near the end of the first half, but emerged with no visible injury in the second.

Jon Graham, who had been struggling offensively, even connected with two late buckets. As Penn State pulled away, Marshall raced down court for an apparent score, before being fouled hard, by Penn guard, Jamal Lewis. Lewis was issued for a flagrant foul and was ejected from the game. Marshall calmly sunk two free throws, notching a double-digit lead for the Nittany Lions, and effectively sealing the game.

The 48th meeting between the two schools was played in front of a sparse Bryce Jordan Center crowd of less than 4,000.

The Nittany Lions will face another Philadelphia school on Wednesday when they take on the LaSalle Explorers at the famous Palestra.

Eric DeBerardinis is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail ejd5136@psu.edu.