Second Half Surge Leads Nittany Lions Past Robert Morris, 80-61
Nov. 16, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- On a night when Robert Morris focused its inspired defense on stopping Talor Battle, Penn State had to find other scoring options. The Nittany Lions responded with a strong second-half surge led by sophomore Chris Babb (Arlington, Texas) and freshman Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas) to propel Penn State past Robert Morris, 80-61, on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. Frazier and Babb made nine of the Nittany Lions' 12 three-pointers to lead Penn State with 19 and 15 points, respectively.
Penn State (2-0) jumped all over the Colonials (0-2) in the opening minutes of the second stanza, using an 23-4 run highlighted by four Babb three-pointers to stretch a one-point halftime lead into a 20-point margin, 57-37, with 13:52 remaining. Contributing to the run was a layup by Andrew Jones (Philadelphia, Pa.) a break-away dunk by Battle and a Frazier three. Babb, who shot a career-best 5-of-9 from three, scored 12 of his career-high 15 in the six-minute spurt.
"I thought we came out in the first five minutes (of the second half) and tried to make a statement," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "That's what a basketball team should do. Hopefully, we'll end up being a good team and good teams have to come out and try to "throw a punch" every once in a while and get back into the thing and I thought we did that in the second half."
Penn State's second-half performance only got better as the Lions continued to make one three-pointer after another, going 12-for-26 from the arc in the game, and shooting 59 percent in the second half. The Lions eventually opened a 24-point lead at 63-39 midway through the period as Frazier drained his fourth three-point goal of the game. Frazier was scoreless in the Lions' opener on Friday, but made up ground quickly hitting 4-of-5 from three and adding three assists and two rebounds in 30 minutes of action mostly spent running the point.
"(Tim) is a hard guy to contain," DeChellis said. "If he starts making perimeter shots, then we're that much better. We've seen him where he can make shots in practice and do pretty well. We just needed to get him some confidence and get him into the flow."
Battle, who posted 27 points in the season-opener, was held to eight on the the night, but added seven assists and six boards to make up for a 2-of-9 night shooting.
"Talor is a very good player; he is one of the best players in our league," DeChellis said. "There are nights where he'll have to do other things for us other than put the ball in the basket. He will have to be a distributor of the ball. People will get into him and try to take him out, so we need other guys to step up and make some basketball plays. I thought we had some guys do that tonight."
Jeff Brooks (Louisville, Ky) continued his early season strong play posting 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and adding five boards and two assists. D.J. Jackson (Farrell, Pa.) chipped in with eight points and seven rebounds for the Nittany Lions. Penn State shot 51.9 percent on the night and won the rebounding battle 38-31.
The 12 three-pointers by Penn State was a season high and the most made by the Nittany Lions since a school record-tying 15 that were made against Hartford last December at the BJC.
Robert Morris, which is coming off back-to-back Northeast Conference titles and a 2009 NCAA Tournament appearance, was led by 11 points from Russell Johnson and 10 from Velton Jones. The Colonials shot 37 percent from the floor and 2-of-16 from three.
Despite trailing for most of the first half, Penn State was able to pull ahead when Battle scored his first field goal of the evening on a fast-break layup to end the half. The bucket gave the Lions a 34-33 advantage at the intermission.
In the first half, Robert Morris used a methodical offense and staunch defense to keep the Nittany Lions out of their offensive rhythm. The Colonials forced seven Penn State turnovers scoring nine subsequent points off the PSU miscues, and sent plenty of help at Battle whenever he attacked. Nevertheless, Penn State shot a respectable 12-for-27 from the field and hit five treys to stay on pace with Robert Morris, who shot 11-for-28 from the field.
Highlighting the Colonials' strong play in the first half was Lijah Thomson who slammed home a missed Garry Wallace three-pointer with a minute remaining in the stanza, momentarily silencing the Bryce Jordan Center crowd of 6,286. The Colonials led by as many as six, 11-5, following a Jimmy Langhurst three at the 14:56 mark. Robert Morris led for eight minutes until a Brooks lay-up tied the game and a Frazier three gave Penn State a 20-19 lead with 8:51 to play. Frazier led the Lions scoring attack early dropping two three-pointers along with another jumper and a free throw for his nine points in the half.
Penn State hits the road for the first time this season when the Nittany Lions travel to the Charleston Classic, Nov. 19-22. The Lions open the tournament by taking on UNC-Wilmington onThursday. The ESPNU telecast will be shown live at 4:00 p.m. with the Nittany Lions set to take on Miami (Fla.) or Tulane in the second game on Friday. The final game of the three-game tournament will take place on Sunday, Nov. 22 against either South Florida, South Carolina, La Salle or Davidson.