Second Half Surge Propels Penn State Over Lehigh
Talor Battle scored the first points of the Penn State season a minute and a half into Friday night’s game. The next time down the court, he threw up an airball. The first half kinda went something like that.
After shooting only 20 percent from the field in the first half, Penn State came out of the locker room for the final twenty minutes looking like an entirely different team and went on to defeat the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 70-56, giving the Nittany Lions their sixth consecutive season opening win.
The first half was one to be forgotten by both teams, as neither team could buy a bucket for most of the first ten minutes. In fact, the teams were stuck at a 4-3 tally for more than four minutes in between a set of TV timeouts. Lehigh got the offense rolling after Battle left the court with nine minutes remaining in the first half after tweaking either his knee or ankle, going on a 10-3 run until Battle returned to the game just a few minutes later. Both offenses had bright spots afterwards, but the teams went into the half with Lehigh up 27-21 after Battle hit a trey from the left side right as the buzzer sounded.
Senior forward DJ Jackson answered the bell as the second half started, scoring seven points in the first three minutes of the period while back to back threes by Battle put Penn State up 36-33 five minutes into the half. That spark was all the Nittany Lions needed, as they shot 19-32 in the second half. The final nail in the coffin was hammered in by highly-touted freshman Taran Buie, as he found senior Jeff Brooks in space for an alley-oop slam that brought Nittany Nation to their feet and a 53-40 score on the scoreboard with the boys not looking back after that.
The Nittany Lions had four players in double figures with Battle putting up 21 points, Jackson scoring 14 and Brooks and redshirt freshman Billy Oliver adding ten apiece. Penn State is 1-0 on the season and will return to the hardwood on DOLLAR DOG NIGHT this Tuesday as they face St. Joesph’s at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tipoff for the game is at 7:30 p.m.
Other odds and ends:
- Jeff Brooks had a career-high five blocks.
- Andrew Jones had a good all-around game with four points and nine rebounds while tipping back out numerous other missed shots.
- Battle’s 21-point performance helped his surpass Geary Claxton to sixth on the all-time scoring list.
- Buie had five points, two rebounds and an assist in his first collegiate action.
- Defending Patriot League Freshman and Player of the Year C.J. McCollum was held to seven points on 3-11 shooting. Anthony D’Orazio led Lehigh with 17 points.