In the first row of Penn’s student section, a fan proudly displayed a “Not Penn State” shirt.
And after just a few minutes of play, it was clear that the Quakers were indeed “Not Penn State.” But on Saturday, that wasn’t something that made Penn fans proud.
Penn State punished the Red and Blue early and often in an afternoon trip to the Palestra, finishing off Penn, 83-71.
On the first play of the game, sophomore forward Donovan Jack drained a three for the Nittany Lions.
And the rest of the first half featured much of the same, as Penn State put on a clinic offensively. The Lions shot 59.4 percent from the field in the first half while making six three-pointers.
“I tip my hat off to Donovan Jack, who starts the game and knocks down two big jump shots,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said.
Meanwhile, Penn looked tense offensively. The Quakers turned the ball over nine times in the first half and, even when shots from senior captain Fran Dougherty and others began to fall, Penn State’s offense kept going.
The Lions quickly extended their lead to a whopping 25 points before a late layup cut the halftime score to 47-24. The blowout was on.
But Penn made its move at the start of the second half, as sophomores Darien Nelson-Henry and Tony Hicks helped Penn get the lead down to just 15 points after only two minutes of play.
“Jerome comes in [at halftime] and tells us every single game that it is a new game in the second half,” Dougherty said. “You try and forget about the first half and focus on the second half. It was too late for us this game, but that’s our mentality.”
Yet while Nelson-Henry made his presence known in the post during the second half, Penn State was able to withhold Penn’s comeback attempts thanks to a strong backcourt of Tim Frazier and D.J Newbill.
Frazier and Newbill led all scorers with 12 and nine points in the first half, respectively. The second half featured Frazier taking over the Lions’ offense, driving the lane for easy layups while drawing fouls.
Frazier finished with 29 points after missing the matchup with Penn last season with a torn Achilles.
“He dominated the game. He got whatever he wanted, whether it was in the paint for himself or making the extra pass and getting guys open shots,” Allen said.
Fouls were all over the Palestra in the second half, as the pace of the game slowed to a crawl. The half featured an absurd 35 fouls combined between the two squads.
Taking advantage of free throws, Nelson-Henry went 11-for-11. He also led Penn with 21 points and five rebounds despite picking up his fourth foul early in the second half.
“I just try and stay within myself,” Nelson-Henry said. “I know that the guys are looking for me and I think they know I’m looking right back at them.”
While Penn got as close as 12 points down the stretch, foul shots and Frazier’s poise at the point kept the Quakers from shrinking the lead to single-digits.
Penn lost the rebounding margin once again, 33-28, but the Quakers only turned the ball over 12 times while scoring 30 points in the paint.
Still, Allen wasn’t happy with the team’s overall performance against the Nittany Lions.
“Sometimes the numbers do lie … defensively, we couldn’t do anything with them. They got what they wanted,” he said.
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