Penn State Downs George Washington on Military Appreciation Day

Story posted December 14, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Uriah Tagle

It was a sizable crowd on hand for Military Appreciation Day at the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday, as fans watched the Penn State Nittany Lions (10-1) defeat the visiting George Washington Colonials (6-3), 64-51. The win was the tenth of the season for the Nittany Lions, who are out to their best start since the 1995-96 season.

While Penn State ultimately got the win, it was George Washington that enjoyed an early lead in the first half, bringing full-court pressure in an attempt to disrupt the Nittany Lion offense. Colonials’ forwards Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen paced the scoring early, with seven and six first half points, respectively. The pair led George Washington in scoring at the end of the day as well, each finishing with 15 points while Larsen tallied 13 rebounds.

“That’s a really good team,” said Pat Chambers when asked about the Colonials after the game. “That’s a tough, hard-nosed team.”

After the strong start from George Washington, Penn State battled their way to a lead at the end of the first half thanks to a D.J. Newbill three point play, and a deep three pointer by true freshman Shep Garner with multiple defenders surrounding him. The Nittany Lions were 5-13 from beyond the arc in the first half (38.5-percent), a nice mark when compared to the Colonials, who failed to knock down a three in either half, going 0-8 from deep on the day.

“Defend and rebound is our staple,” said Newbill in the postgame press conference. “We can always rely on our effort and energy, and how we talk and move on defense.”

Penn State pulled away from the Colonials after the intermission, led by junior forward Brandon Taylor, who scored 12 second half points, including a pair of back-to-back three pointers which swelled the Nittany Lions’ lead. Taylor, who was only shooting 38-percent from the floor entering the game, compiled his best performance of the season thus far, scoring 17 point on 7-13 shooting, while adding eight rebounds and two steals.

“As of late I haven’t been shooting the ball as well as I’d like to,” said the 6-foot-6 forward after the game. “It’s definitely good to see the ball go through the hoop.”

Though Penn State led for the entire second half, the dagger to George Washington arguably did not come until there were just over two minutes left in the game. Junior center Jordan Dickerson threw down a wide open, two-handed slam dunk in the key to put the Nittany Lions up by 15 and send the crowd into a frenzy. Receiving the start, the Brooklyn native had a very productive day roaming the paint, blocking a career-high six shots, while adding six rebounds, and four points.

“Dickerson made some huge blocks, and he was definitely a force today,” said Chambers. “I’m really proud of Jordan because I think that’s the type of player he can be for us.”

As the team’s leading scorer, it was no surprise that D.J. Newbill topped all Penn State scorers once again with 20 points. The team captain was crucial for the Nittany Lions, spending 39 minutes on the floor and sinking all seven of his free throw attempts. The effort marked Newbill’s sixth 20-point game of the season.

“Every time he shoots, I think it’s in,” Chambers said when asked about Newbill’s consistency. “His shot looked really good today.”

Penn State also received key contributions from their bench, as sophomore guard Geno Thorpe added eight points in 25 minutes of work, junior forward Donovon Jack secured five rebounds, and senior guard John Johnson had two big steals.

“I like the chemistry and identity of this team,” said Chambers. “Guys like each other. We’ve got a really good locker room.”

The Nittany Lions’ next test is in Allentown, Pennsylvania where they will take on the Drexel Dragons on Saturday, December 20, at the PPL Center. ComRadio’s coverage of the game begins at 2 p.m.

(Photo credit: AP Photo/The Herald-Dispatch, Sholten Singer) 

Uriah Tagle is a senior majoring in communication arts and sciences and economics. To contact him, email uriahtagle@gmail.com.