Penn State Hoops Earns Gritty 60-46 Win Over Delaware State
Penn State men’s basketball (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten) held on to beat Delaware State (1-12) 60-46 Thursday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center. It wasn’t a pretty performance for the Nittany Lions, but they finished the non-conference slate with their fourth-consecutive victory in double-digit fashion.
Seth Lundy led the way with a double-double, scoring 15 points and bringing down 10 rebounds. Andrew Funk scored 12 points, all on three-pointers, and Jalen Pickett added 10 points and six assists to the total.
How It Happened
Funk got the scoring started for the Nittany Lions, sinking a wide open three. Lundy returned to action after missing the last game due to an injury and hit a three to follow Funk. Pickett and Kebba Njie followed up with their own baskets to warrant an early lead for Penn State.
Delaware State didn’t go away, however. In fact, it went on an 8-0 run which tied the game. However, Lundy hit a corner three to break the run and put the Nittany Lions back on top. Michael Henn and Myles Dread also joined in on the scoring, and the Hornets couldn’t catch up.
As the first half continued, Penn State got sloppy. There were several turnovers and poorly executed plays that angered head coach Micah Shrewsberry. Freshmen Jameel Brown and Demetrius Lilley earned some extended playing time in the first half, however, they both experienced some growing pains while on the court.
It was the experienced veterans that really proved to be the x-factors in the first half. Pickett and Henn found success in the paint, which helped extend the lead since the threes were not falling for this team. The defense also did a great job of stopping Delaware State, who went on a seven-minute scoring drought near the end of the half.
It was an ugly end to the first half for Penn State. The sqaud didn’t score a basket in the last six minutes of the half, and was lucky that the Hornets went on a longer scoring drought and couldn’t catch up. The Nittany Lions went into halftime up 27-22.
Njie and Funk quickly got the scoring started in the second half to try and create momentum, but Delaware State scored seven straight points to close the gap between it and Penn State. After another scoring drought, the Nittany Lions went on their own 7-0 scoring run with the help of a Myles Dread three and Njie put-back layup.
Funk hit another three, while Dallion Johnson had a lucky floater roll in, and Penn State had its biggest lead of the game halfway through the second half. When the Nittany Lions reverted back to their sluggish ways, Evan Mahaffey reinvigorated this team and brought some new life to the five on the court.
Lundy took over with five minutes to go, which was huge since Pickett was struggling all game long. He became the primary scorer down the stretch and was really the only one to have much success shooting the ball. Penn State did go on a 6-0 run that was fueled by Pickett and Lundy, which put the game away.
It was not a pretty performance, but the Nittany Lions pulled out the win 60-46.
- We finally saw what the Nittany Lions look like when the threes aren’t falling, and it was ugly. In the first half, the Nittany Lions went 5-21 from behind the arc. That figure isn’t good enough to get the job done against most opposing units, especially with a grim six-minute scoring drought looming in the balance. If this happened in a conference game, Penn State would have been losing at the break instead of being up by five. They can’t afford to have a mishap of that magnitude moving forward.
- This was easily Jalen Pickett’s worst game of the season. He turned the ball over three times and scored 10 points. It could have been worse, granted, but it did confirm that the Nittany Lions will struggle when he struggles. The only hope is that this is a one-time performance for Pickett.
- Folks, we have the definition of “gritty not pretty” right here in front of us. Penn State finished the game shooting 36% from the field, and 25% from behind the arc. Somehow, it pulled out a double-digit win despite the poor shooting performance. There is a lot that needs to be improved upon, but winning 10 games is a big deal, and is something that this team should be happy with.
Penn State will kick off the new year with a home game against Iowa at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 1. The game is set to air live on BTN.
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