Men’s Basketball Opens Season with Sloppy Win over St. Francis
The second year of the Pat Chambers era at Penn State began with an ugly but gritty win, as the Penn State men's basketball team (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) defeated St. Francis (0-1, 0-0 Northeast) 65-58 Friday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Whether it was Ross Travis diving into the stands for a loose ball or Nick Colella flying across the court for a steal with less than four minutes to go, it is clear that Chambers is building this program based on the term attitude.
“This is a different Penn State team,” said Chambers. “We’re not going to give up. Good things are going to happen if we keep playing with that mentality.”
A win was exactly what Chambers desired from his team on Friday night and although it was sloppy, there is room for improvement.
“It’s a learning experience,” said Chambers. “Its game number one. We have to watch film tomorrow, get better and get ready for the next contest.”
Tim Frazier led the Nittany Lions with 23 points and Southern Mississippi transfer guard D.J. Newbill finished the game with 16 points as the pair led Penn State to their first victory of the 2012 season.
The Nittany Lions started off slow and sloppy at the beginning of the game with only 10 points after the first nine minutes of play. After a Newbill three-pointer at the midway point of the first half, Penn State started to turn on the heat with a 10-0 run against in-state St. Francis of the Northeastern Conference.
The Red Flash then were able to climb back into the game after back and forth play combined with 0-6 from the field in the final three minutes of the first half. However, Penn State was 6-6 from the line in that same time frame to go into half time up 26-20.
The second half started much like the first half for Penn State, slow and sloppy. St. Francis and Penn State went back and forth all the way until the seven minute mark where Penn State began to pull away after Nick Colella hit a three to stretch the lead to four.
“They took the lead, they went up and we went back down and had a couple good possessions,” said Chambers of the second half run by the Red Flash. “I was proud of the way we didn’t fold.”
After two Frazier free throws, Jermaine Marshall hit a three to cap off an 8-0 run that the Red Flash couldn’t fight off, resulting in a win at home for Penn State.
Free throw shooting was key for Penn State, especially for their deadly combo of Newbill and Frazier who were a combined 26-28 from the charity stripe.
Frazier, an All-Big Ten guard from a year ago, proved his worth in the second half by scoring 18 of his 23 points in the last 20 minutes of play. Of Frazier’s 23 points, 17 came from the stripe.
“Tim [Frazier] proved that he is one of the best guards in the country tonight,” said St. Francis head coach Rob Krimmel. “He was only three of nine from the field, but his smarts to get to the free throw line 18 times make 17 of them, have six assists and score 23 points I thought he did a great job all night controlling the tempo of the game.”
The Nittany Lions as a whole shot 32 free throws, which counteracted their poor shooting performance from the three-point line.
“When you are not making shots you have to figure out what you are doing well,” said Chambers. “We got ourselves to the foul line early and often and we shot 32 free throws, which is part of the game plan when you are not making threes.”
Another startling statistic for Penn State was their 17 turnovers, which Chambers called atrocious, but there were positives to be drawn for their win a sloppy game that might have been a loss one year ago.
“Last year we would have lost this game,” said Chambers. “The fact that we had 17 turnovers and won says a lot about this team.”
Penn State will head to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 15 where they will collide with No. 6 North Carolina State.
Mike Esse is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and is a ComRadio Sports Director. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.