Geno Thorpe Leads Nittany Lions to 64-62 Win Over Duquesne
Penn State showed its depth in the BJC on Wednesday night, as its bench scored 35 points to lead the Nittany Lions to a 64-62 win over Duquesne. Geno Thorpe led the way with a career-high 19 points, helping overcome bad nights by D.J. Newbill (11 points), Brandon Taylor (0 points) and Ross Travis (0 points).
Despite the struggles from three of its starters, both Pat Chambers and Thorpe praised the team’s effort. “It’s a team effort,” said Thorpe. “We all had to pick it up as a unit.” Chambers added, “We rely on D.J. every game, and for once, we picked him up.”
Penn State got off to its usual slow start, shooting just 2-of-9 from behind the arc and 5-of-10 from the free throw line in the first half while committing eight turnovers. Luckily, the Dukes didn’t play much better. Duquesne shot just 33.3 percent in the first half and went 5-of-12 from the charity stripe. Both teams held the lead for exactly 7:50 of the first half, but the Nittany Lions took a 29-28 lead into halftime.
The start of the second half was where Penn State started to pull away. Despite not having Taylor due to foul trouble, two threes from Newbill and Shep Garner sparked a 9-2 run to open the half. The Nittany Lions eventually increased the lead to 10, before Duquesne went of a run of its own. The Dukes scored 16 of the next 24 points to cut Penn State’s lead to just two.
That’s when Thorpe started to make “winning” plays. He made four free throws late and played great defense, not allowing Duquesne’s shooters to get good looks.
“He makes extra effort plays, winning plays, culture plays to help our team win,” said Chambers.
The team as a whole went 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minutes to close out the Dukes — a huge change for a team that had shot just 50 percent before that from the stripe.
Penn State earned its sixth win by six points or less, but Chambers was encouraged by his team’s effort. “For three years, we haven’t won close games,” he said. “We’re taking last year’s experience and utilizing it this year.”
The team’s 9-1 start is the best 10-game start since 2000-01. The Nittany Lions will look to make that a 10-1 record when they take on George Washington in the BJC on Sunday at noon.