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Dec. 8, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Dec. 8, 2009 -- Behind a 20-3 run over 10:07 and spanning two halves, the Nittany Lion basketball team (6-3) posted a 58-42 win over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (0-8) Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. The inside tandem of Jeff Brooks (Louisville, Ky.) and Andrew Jones (Philadelphia, Pa.) combined to score 24 points and pull down 16 rebounds to lead Penn State to its fourth win in five games and ninth straight at home.
Brooks posted a team-high 14 points for his fifth double-digit outing of the season while Jones had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth career double-double and first double-digit outing of the year. UMBC was led by 10 points each from Chris De La Rosa and Brian Neller.
Brooks' thunderous put back flush followed by a Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.) 3-pointer opened the second half turning a 23-21 Penn State deficit with 2:35 left in the first half into a 32-23 lead just 1:45 into the second frame.
After a UMBC three-point answer, the Lions responded with five points from Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas) and Battle to stretch the lead to 11 at 37-26 with 15:56 to play. Penn State would extend the lead further with a driving hoop and a turnaround lay-up by Brooks for a 15-point advantage, 41-26 with 12:28 to go.
Meanwhile, the Retrievers went ice cold from the field missing six of their first seven shots of the half and committing three turnovers in the early going while suffering an eight-minute stretch without a field goal. UMBC wouldn't break the Nittany Lion onslaught until a pair of free throws by Shawn Grant eight minutes into the second half. Penn State held UMBC to 25 percent shooting on the half and just 4-of-22 from three on the game. The Retrievers were the fifth opponent on the season the Lions have held under 40 percent shooting.
"I thought we turned Tim (Frazier) loose in the second half to pick up the defensive intensity," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "I thought he did a good job moving his feet and containing the ball. I'm trying to convince this group to have some fun defensively and score off the defense."
Chris Babb's (Arlington, Texas) two three-pointers and an Andrew Ott (Abington, Pa.) fast-break hoop sandwiched a UMBC lay up to give the Nittany Lions a 49-30 lead past the midway point in the second half. Penn State's lead would eventually grow to 55-32, the Lions' largest of the game, with 7:12 to go.
The all-around effort by the Nittany Lions was evidenced by key contributions from all positions. The three key guards for Penn State - Battle, Frazier, and Babb - grabbed 16 of the team's rebounds as a group. In total, Penn State posted a season-high 52 rebounds to out-rebounded the Retrievers by 27, 52-25. The Lion rebounding total was the most for Penn State since posting 54 vs. South Carolina in 2007. Adding to that were 17 offensive rebounds, including five from Jones.
"I think you need to be a good rebounding team to play in this league we are in," DeChellis said. "You need to defend and you need to rebound otherwise you will not be successful in the Big Ten. I thought our defensive rebounding was pretty good. This was not a very big team we played. We will find out a lot about rebounding Saturday night. I think Virginia Tech is averaging 17 offensive rebounds a game."
The first half was anything but easy as the Nittany Lions struggled to find the bottom of the net shooting just 34.3 percent from the floor (12-of-35), which included 1-of-11 (9.1 percent) behind the arc. In fact, Penn State, which led early 6-2, didn't match its largest lead again until there was just one second left in the half and Jones made a pair of free throws. Jones led Penn State in the opening period with eight points and six rebounds, while Brooks scored six points in the first stanza.
Despite its record coming into the ballgame, UMBC hung in with the Nittany Lions shooting 39.3 percent from the floor and committing just five turnovers. Nevertheless, the Retrievers made just one three-pointer in nine attempts, many of which were open looks, and couldn't handle Penn State's size advantage.
The win upped Penn State's record at home against non-conference opponents to 22-1 in the last three seasons. The Nittany Lions also improved their BJC record to 34-7 overall in the past three seasons and 39-13 in non-conference games under Ed DeChellis.
Penn State will return to action on Saturday when they host ACC foe Virginia Tech for a nationally televised game on ESPN2. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.