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Dec. 10, 2012
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions made it two-straight wins in the Bryce Jordan Center after defeating Army, 78-70, on Saturday night.
Behind two halves of hard-fought basketball, Penn State out-shot, out-rebounded and out-hustled the Black Knights. And even when Army pulled within two to make it 52-50 with less than 12 minutes to play, the Lions persevered and went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead.
In the first half of the contest, Penn State shot 56 percent from the floor as a team and pulled down 22 rebounds to Army's seven. The Lions were able to spread the offense against a tough full-court press, and got six players on the board in the opening 20 minutes.
At the end of the evening, Army head coach Zach Spiker tipped his hat to Lions' head coach Patrick Chambers and the fight his players brought from tip-off on.
"Penn State plays hard," said Spiker. "They're a direct reflection of their head coach and they play hard. In the first half, they shoot 56 - it doesn't matter if you're at home, on the road, non-league or league, we cannot win when a team shoots 56 and you shoot 37."
After putting up 40 in the first, Penn State continued to charge and added another 38 before the night ended. But none of those came uncontested.
Leading by just five with 10 minutes left to play, sophomores D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis and freshman Brandon Taylor combined for a 10-0 run in less than five minutes. Taylor tallied five, Newbill added four and Travis added one behind the foul line.
The Lions' ability to surge on offense and play 40 solid minutes of gritty defense kept them on top. Four players ended the game in double-figures. Travis, who had nabbed 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, said that his team's constant work ethic is what made the difference.
"I think it just starts at practice when we're playing five-on-no one or five-on-five just going hard all of the time," said Travis. "We don't lose any conditioning or anything like that so it just transfers over to the game. Our training coach always says that if you go hard in practice you're going to go hard in game so that's what we're doing."
Penn State ended the day shooting 50.9 percent from the floor, 36.8 percent beyond the arc and 13-of-20 at the line. As the team continues to bear a few growing pains together, Newbill said that it was important for multiple people to have their hands on the ball from start to finish.
"It's big," said Newbill. "That's one thing that we try to do is share the ball and play with confidence. I think guys are finding their flow."
With the win, the Lions improve to 5-4 overall and have just three games left until the start of their Big Ten season. And according to Coach Chambers, Penn State is going to have to keep the positive juices flowing and find some consistency in order to succeed down the road.
"You've got to do the little things that make great programs great teams," said Chambers. "When you play hard you get a little bit lucky and success finds you. It goes back to attitude."