Penn State Survives Second Half Struggles to Beat Army
The Penn State Nittany Lions (5-4, 0-0 Big Ten) rebounded from a disappointing loss against LaSalle and defeated the Army Black Knights (4-4, 0-0 Patriot League) 78-70 Saturday afternoon on Military Appreciation Day in the Bryce Jordan Center.
With the loss of Tim Frazier for the season, Penn State is relying on a scoring by committee squad. There are no star names on the Nittany Lions’ roster and more importantly no true point guard. D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall have both split time at the position and players such as Brandon Taylor, Sasa Borovnjak and Ross Travis need to contribute in order for Pat Chambers’ squad to be successful.
The aforementioned Ross Travis got things going early for Penn State scoring five quick points and pulling down two rebounds. Travis finished with nine points and four rebounds in the first half. For the game Travis was 5-for-11 from the field and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Travis has been playing tremendous so far this season. He attributes his success to his willingness to shoot the ball.
“I’m just shooting the ball without thinking about it,” Travis said. “I’m shooting the ball with confidence.”
Travis is averaging 9.6 rebounds per game over the last five games and leads the Big Ten in rebounding with 7.9 rebounds per game. He is also second in the Big 10 in offensive rebounding at just over three rebounds per game.
The Nittany Lions contained Army and forced the Knights to outside shots in the first half. The Black Knights were 9-for-24 from the field shooting a little over 37%, while Penn State shot just over 56%. Penn State led 40-28 at half.
If there was one word to describe the Nittany Lions’ play in the second half it would be sloppy. Army gained momentum early in the second half. Fatigue, turnovers, foul trouble and subpar post play were contributing factors. Army capitalized and connected on the Penn State turnovers. At some points, Army got to the free throw line at will.
“You start out well and play great defense and for whatever reason we look tired,” Chambers said. “And then we find it again, we dig a little deeper. We got to get away from that. We did it at LaSalle, we did it today and we did it versus Penn. We need some consistency.”
Army was within four points, 58-54, at the 9:52 mark, but Penn State went on a 20-12 run to close out the game. Newbill and Marshall combined for 15 points during the rally.
Penn State got a huge break with 6:42 left in the game as Army’s best player, Ella Ellis, fouled out after Nick Colella took a charge. Ellis finished with a game high 23 points. Despite the second half struggles Penn State managed to battle and close out the Black Knights for the win.
Penn State had four players in double digits for the first time this season. Newbill finished the game 7-for-15 from the field for a total of 19 points. Marshall chipped in 16 points and six rebounds and Brandon Taylor scored 14 points.
Newbill talked about Penn State’s balanced attack and its importance.
“It’s big. That’s one thing we try to share the ball and play with confidence,” he said. “We got to get open shots and stick it.”
Penn State next plays Delaware State on Saturday, December 15 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
Tom Zulewski is a senior majoring in journalism. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.