Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Knock Off Mount St Mary's 92-82
Closing out an opponent can't often be the hardest part of the game. Both teams are putting in a little extra effort to swing the game in their direction, and as the clock winds down each possession becomes more and more important.
Having learned that lesson a week ago after blowing a 20-point lead to Princeton, the Nittany Lions turned an 80-80 game with 3:56 to play into a 92-82 victory on Sunday.
Coming off of one of the more emotional losses under head coach Patrick Chambers just over a week ago, Penn State had plenty riding on the final out of conference game of the season. A win would get the bad taste of defeat out of the Nittany Lions' mouth, and more directly a win over a team that Penn State needs to beat if an NCAA bid is in the cards.
The Mount opened up hot though, hitting 9-of-16 from three in the first half en route to a 46-37 halftime lead. The Nittany Lions missed all five attempted three-pointers in the first half but still shot 17-of-25 from inside the arc while Mount St Mary's managed only five makes from inside three-point range. Penn State was led by sophomore Brandon Taylor in the first half with 10 points.
Penn State opened the second half on a 6-0 run to cut into Mount St Mary's lead and battled back and forth with The Mount in a high scoring second half. Penn State turned the ball over only four times in the final 20 minutes of play and was led by a balanced scoring attack that saw five Nittany Lions hit double figures.
The most impressive of those being transfer guard John Johnson who scored a team-high 20 points in his Penn State debut.
"It feels great being back out on the court after almost a year and a half." Johnson said after the game.
Penn State battled and scored 55 second half points as the Nittany Lions slowly became too much for Mount St Mary's to handle. Penn State shot 53-percent from the floor and made up for a sloppy opening half defensively, holding Mount St Mary's to only three second half three-pointers.
Senior guard Tim Frazier was stellar all night, scoring 15 points while dishing out 6 assists and hauling in 5 rebounds. DJ Newbill added 18 points and 6 rebounds to his total.
In the end Penn State exits out of conference play at 9-4, the best starting record since the 2008-09 season.