Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Open Season with 65-58 Victory Over Saint Francis
Penn State basketball opened the 2012 season Friday night with a 65-58 victory over Saint Francis.
The Nittany Lions struggled shooting the ball for most of the game but relied on stout defense and effective free throw shooting to avoid what would have been a catastrophic start to the second year of the Pat Chambers era.
“We always prepare for nights like this,” Chambers said. “Obviously they happened too often last year. I think our guys were a little nervous, first game of the year. I hope it doesn’t happen often but I was pretty proud of the way they continued to play hard. We’re exactly where we are supposed to be on Nov. 9.”
Penn State opened a 19-9 lead with 7:02 remaining in the first half, but missed shots by the Nittany Lions and strong play by Saint Francis guard Ollie Jackson helped spark a 10-3 run by the Red Flash. The Nittany Lions missed four consecutive 3-pointers over the span as Saint Francis cut the lead to 22-19 with only 1:30 remaining in the half.
“Am I concerned about 3-of-24?” Chambers said of Penn State’s 3-point shooting. "Yes. Because we had some really good shots and they packed it in and said go ahead and see who can make them and we didn’t make them.”
Saint Francis opened the second half hitting its first three shots from beyond the arc, turning a 26-20 halftime deficit into a 31-30 second half lead with 16:55 to go.
It was at that point senior guard Tim Frazier showed why he is considered to be one of the nation’s top guards scoring five straight points in a span of less than a minute.
“That spurt by Tim was a one-man spurt,” Chambers said. “We can’t rely on that every night, we need guys on the floor to share the basketball so we don’t have to rely on him like that. That is a lot of weight on his shoulder.”
Saint Francis was able to keep close to the Nittany Lions until a Penn State run extended the lead to 11 following back-to-back scores by Nick Colella and DJ Newbill with 3:33 remaining.
“Again, the fact we won and shot 3-of-24 from three and had 17 turnovers says a lot about where we’re headed if we keep grinding and have a good attitude and keep making plays. I was proud about the way we didn’t fold.” Chambers said.
Frazier led the Nittany Lions with 23 points. Sophomores DJ Newbill and Ross Travis added 16 and 10, respectively. Travis was especially effective grabbing five offensive rebounds, one total rebound shy of a double-double.
Penn State will next face N.C. State as part of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic next Thursday. The Wolfpack defeated Miami (Ohio) 97-59 Friday night and is currently ranked No. 6 in both the AP and Coaches polls.