Penn State Thrashes Dartmouth to Extend Winning Streak

posted December 23, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Bradford Conners

The Penn State Nittany Lions (12-1) jumped in front early and cruised to a 69-49 victory over the Dartmouth Big Green (5-6) at the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday, earning their tenth straight win and setting a program record for most non-conference wins in a season.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, but with the score knotted at 7-7 seven minutes into the first half, the Nittany Lions began clicking on offense and pulled away in a hurry. Penn State ripped off a 17-2 run, which included six points from D.J. Newbill, to gain a 24-9 advantage with 7:24 to play in the opening half.

With the game being the Nittany Lions’ second contest in three days and with the holiday break looming, head coach Pat Chambers gave his team credit for coming out with a focused mindset.

“We had a very mature approach today. We were ready to play,” said Chambers. “I give that credit to the veterans---they did a great job preparing yesterday and today on short rest.”

The Nittany Lions were scoring inside with ease early on, connecting on eight of their first ten two-point attempts. Dartmouth would manage to trim the deficit to 12, but Penn State answered with another big run---this time a 12-0 outburst---to quell any hopes of a Big Green comeback.

A Dartmouth free throw finally ended the Penn State scoring run with nine seconds to go in the half, but Newbill put an exclamation point on a dominant opening period for the Nittany Lions by driving the lane and throwing down an emphatic jam to extend his team’s lead to 41-16 just as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Newbill led Penn State with 11 first-half points, and Connor Boehm paced Dartmouth with six. The Nittany Lions outscored the Big Green’s bench 21-0 in the opening stanza behind eight points from Geno Thorpe, seven from John Johnson, and six from Donovon Jack.

Penn State scored 13 points off eight Dartmouth turnovers in the half, whereas the Big Green netted just two points on Penn State’s six turnovers. Paul Cormier’s squad also went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the opening frame.

After the Nittany Lions shot a lights-out 58-percent from the floor in the first half, their offense converted just 35-percent of its field goal tries in the second half, but the game remained out of reach, as the Big Green would never cut the Penn State lead any lower than 18 points.

In a nonconference season full of narrow victories, Penn State’s 20-point win was its largest of the year, and Chambers thinks his team is in a good position going forward.

“When you come out the way we did, 12-1, we are in a good place,” Chambers said. “We can still get a lot better though, which is scary to me---on how good we can really be when we are all dialed in and focused.”

Despite playing a season-low 30 minutes, Newbill led all scorers with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Thorpe chipped in 12 points, including 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Johnson, who had contributed only five points in Penn State’s last three games combined, added ten points off the bench. Brandon Taylor also reached double figures with ten points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

Alex Mitola paced the Big Green with 13 points, going 5-for-11 from the field. As a team, though, Dartmouth shot just 35-percent from the floor, 2-for-20 from beyond the arc, and 9-for-16 from the foul line.

Penn State shot 47-percent from the field, went 7-for-19 from three, and converted 16-of-24 from the charity stripe.

The Nittany Lions will have more than a week off before opening up conference play at Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve, and Newbill feels that his team is ready for the challenge of the Big Ten season.

“We feel like if we stick to Penn State basketball, defending and rebounding, that we can play with any team in the country,” said the senior leader. “Our confidence level is at an all-time high right now and we just want to keep it going."

Bradford Conners is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email btc5082@psu.edu.