Penn State (6-5) traveled to Pittsburgh on Saturday to take on Duquesne (6-4) in the second game of a home-and-away series continuing from last season. The Nittany Lions were looking to rebound after their worst performance in recent memory, a home loss to Lafayette on Wednesday.
Penn State went into the half up 32-29 and saw action from ten different players. However, that lead wouldn’t hold up as Duquesne came out in the second half with a strong press that Penn State couldn’t handle. Those turnovers, on top of another poor shooting performance, led to the third straight non-conference loss for the Nittany Lions, by the score of 66-59.
This was another game for Penn State where it is difficult to find many positives. Matt Glover’s usual defensive spark was non-existent, as he gave up 3 turnovers and was even benched for his sloppy play. This forced Penn State to go to their bench early using both inexperienced Pat Ackerman and Nick Colella in key situations, which turned out as well as you might expect.
Tim Frazier recovered from his worst performance of the year, putting up 15 points with 7 boards and only allowing 3 turnovers, which has been a problem for Frazier all season. He still looked lost at times going up against Duquesne’s big men, and only managed to take 9 shots. Coach Chambers mentioned after the game that he wants Frazier to take 20 shots per game, and is working on getting his confidence back up to where it needs to be for him to do that.
As a team, Penn State committed 23 turnovers while only hitting 21 baskets. This should be an alarming statistic for Penn State fans, and one that is only going to get worse in conference play.
Departed coach Ed DeChellis was often maligned for his inability to make in-season adjustments. Pat Chambers will need to break his predecessor’s downfall as far as ball handling is concerned if Penn State plans to win any conference games.
Penn State’s shooting also showed little improvement, as they shot only 43% and only hit 4 of their 16 three-point shots. Billy Oliver took a couple ugly shots early on, and was benched for most of the first half. The inability for shooters Tim Frazier and Jermaine Marshall to find open looks should be a major concern moving forward.
The team has a week off for finals before facing Mount St. Mary’s (1-8) at home next Sunday at 4 pm. Mount St. Mary’s is easily the worst team on the schedule, boasting the 312nd ranked RPI in the country. It took a 40-foot prayer from Talor Battle last season to beat Mount St. Mary’s, and a loss this year would be devastating.
Looking at this schedule, it’s hard to see many possible W’s coming for the rest of the season.