Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Improve To 8-3, Knock Off Duquesne 68-59
Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said earlier in the week he wanted greater contributions from his bench, and his most veteran bench player responded on Wednesday as Penn State knocked off Duquesne 68-59.
Graduate transfer guard Allen Roberts added 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists during Penn State's final road game of the non-conference schedule.
In a foul-friendly outing that saw guards DJ Newbill and Tim Frazier hit with early foul calls, Roberts' ability to get to the rim and hit shots was critical to Penn State's eighth victory this season. It was a victory that Penn State needed , playing a talented yet inconsistent Dukes' team capable of scoring points at a moments' notice. While it was not an upset by any stretch, every win on the road is crucial in the ever important RPI index used on Selection Sunday.
Playing in Pittsburgh for the second straight week, Frazier opened the game the same way he did the last time PSU played in the Steel City -- with a long three point shot to give the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead only seconds into the contest. The Nittany Lions opened a 6-0 lead but the Dukes battled back to go ahead 9-8 with 15:10 to go in the opening half.
The Dukes would play well in spurts but could never mount a full assault on Penn State. Senior forward Ovie Soko had 14 first half points and was the lone bright spot most of the night as Penn State built a 35-26 halftime lead.
Donovon Jack was fantastic again for Penn State, providing the Nittany Lions with a much needed presence on the interior, with six blocks, 12 rebounds, and 9 points. The sophomore forward is now coming off back-to-back games with 6 or more blocks and either double-digits in scoring or rebounds.
The Nittany Lions stretched their lead to 15 points, going up 43-28 with 15:00 left in the second half. Uncharacteristic mistakes and turnovers by Penn State slowly let the Dukes back into the game. But Duquesne could never get closer than six points in the final 10 minutes of the game. Every charge by the Dukes was countered by a Nittany Lion run or basket at a critical moment to prevent any serious comeback attempts. In large part, the game was decided by a 20-5 run in the second half that the Dukes could never overcome. Duquesne shot under 30-percent from the field. That number was more a result of the Dukes' genuinely poor shooting then Penn State's defensive play.
Despite early foul trouble, Frazier dished out a career-high 12 assists while scoring 11 points. Newbill added 13 points while also dealing with early foul trouble. Ross Travis pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds while chipping in 9 points as the Nittany Lions came close to five scorers in double-figures yet again.
It wasn't always pretty. Penn State turned the ball over 11 times and shot only 42-percent from the field and gave up 21 offensive rebounds, but the Nittany Lions ground out an essential road victory nevertheless. Penn State improves to 8-3 on the year and will face a good Princeton squad this Saturday at the highly anticipated Return To Rec game played at historic Rec Hall on Penn State's campus.