Brooks Steps Up Again

Senior forward has another strong showing as the Nittany Lions improve to 3-0 on the season.

During an off-season visit from a pair of former U.S. Marines, Talor Battle was told he had to share the responsibility of scoring with his teammates.

Through three games this season, it appears Battle may have found his perfect complement in senior Jeff Brooks.

For the second straight game Brooks set a career-high in points with 19, propelling the Nittany Lions to workmanlike 64-49 victory over the Fairfield Stags Friday night in University Park.

“Whenever [Brooks] is aggressive shooting the ball like that, he helps the team,” said center Andrew Jones, who recorded his eighth career double-digit rebound game. “Jeff shoots a high-percentage shot so when he is playing like he did tonight, it usually means good things for the team.”

Brooks is embracing his role as an elder statesman of the team.

“It's nothing special what I'm doing out there,” Brooks said. “As a senior you take on the leadership role as one of the guys who has to produce. That's something you're expected to do as a senior. So right now I'm just going out there trying to be a factor on the floor every night.”

Leading 38-29 seven minutes into the second half, Penn State went on a 12-0 run that secured the Nittany Lions' third 3-0 start under head coach Ed DeChellis and the program's seventh perfect three-game start in the Big Ten era.

Brooks and Battle traded baskets for five straight minutes during the game's deciding stretch, with Battle scoring seven of his game-high 20 points and Brooks adding five points with one of his team-leading four 3-pointers.

Battle, starting his 100th career game as a Nittany Lion, moved into fourth-place on the school's all-time scoring list (1,582), passing former teammate Jamelle Cornley.

“I think it's a great accomplishment and one Talor should be proud of,” said DeChellis. “Obviously Talor can score, but I'm trying to get multiple guys to help him, not just one. [Brooks] did a great job tonight, but it's still early in the season.”

The preseason favorite to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), Fairfield fell to 1-2 as the Stags struggled mightily from the field, shooting a weak 32 percent.

Team leading-scorer Derek Needham was held to six points by a suffocating Nittany Lions defense, as the sophomore point guard shot 2 of 12 from the field, scoring only one 3-pointer in each half.

“We're not a very good offensive basketball team right now,” said Fairfield coach Ed Cooley. “Penn State, though, they were great. You have to give them credit because we saw on tape how much they struggled from the 3-point line last game. That was the real key tonight -- they shot the ball very well.”

The Nittany Lions improved on their atrocious 3-point shooting performance against St. Joe's, going 9-22 from beyond the arc after converting only one 3-pointer in 21 attempts vs. the Hawks Tuesday night.

Penn State will conclude its season-opening four-game home stand when Central Connecticut State visits Happy Valley Monday at 7 p.m.

Penn State has started a season 4-0 only once (2008-09) in the past 10 years.

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