Last night, Penn State Men’s Basketball overcame 17 turnovers and 21 missed three-point attempts on its way to a 65-58 season opening win over the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash. Suffice to say, this game was not pretty at all, but the Nittany Lions showed promise in a few key areas, especially in getting to the free throw line.
Penn State struggled early against the Red Flash, a team that posted just a 6-23 record last season. The Lions scored only 10 points in the first ten minutes of the game, effectively crushing the hopes of fans that were shooting for the 70-point free Big Mac threshold. Notably, the team was 0-7 from beyond the arc until Southern Miss transfer DJ Newbill–who had missed three threes — sank his fourth attempt from long range for his first points as a Nittany Lion.
After a sloppy twenty minutes, the Nittany Lions led 26-20 at halftime. Penn State shot 29.2% and a dismal 1 for 12 from three-point range, and both teams committed 11 turnovers. The lead was due to Penn State’s success in getting to the line and capitalizing, making 11 of 12 shots from the charity stripe.
The second half started with more of the same, as Penn State struggled to get separation from St. Francis, trailing by a point on two different occasions. The score was back and forth until Penn State finally hit another three with seven minutes left to play, catalyzing a run that the Red Flash were unable to recover from. A subsequent steal by Newbill and two made free throws by senior guard Tim Frazier extended Penn State’s lead to 53-47, followed by a three by junior Jermaine Marshall that ended up closing out the game.
Pat Chambers’ “best backcourt in the country” of Frazier and Newbill scored 39 points — 26-28 from the free throw line. Frazier led the Nittany Lions with 23 points and also added 6 assists, 4 rebounds, a block and 2 steals. Newbill had a mixed but fairly successful debut, scoring 16 points on 30% shooting, though he did miss 6 of 7 three-point attempts. Sophomore forward Ross Travis posted 10 points and 9 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, and Marshall added 9 points and 6 offensive rebounds.
The final stats (36.2% shooting, 17 turnovers) were not pretty, but Chambers took this game as a sign of how the team has grown.
“I was proud of the way we didn’t fold,” said Chambers. “This is a different Penn State team. We’re not going to fold. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep grinding.”
- Penn State shot 28-32 from the free throw line, accounting for nearly half of their 64 points.
- They also made just 3 of 24 three point attempts, but the last two made shots by senior Nick Collella and Jermaine Marshall ultimately sealed the victory for the Nittany Lions
- DJ Newbill showcased his versatility by playing both on and off the ball and even posted up a smaller defender. After the game, Chambers mentioned that he will be using Newbill in such ways to maximize his size advantage.
- Chambers also wants Newbill to put up occasional double-double numbers — “He’s a great rebounder,” said the head coach.
- St. Francis’ Rob Krimmel, who grew up in State College, made his head coaching debut last night. His brother Ken played for the Penn State team that reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2001.