Lions Dispatch Mount St. Mary's

Penn State rolls after shaking off the rust from a week-long break for finals to whip the Mounts. Five players reach double figure for the Lions.

It took Penn State a half to shake off the rust from its eight-day layoff for final exams. But once the Nittany Lions got loose, they promptly destroyed plodding Mount St. Mary's at the Jordan Center Sunday.

The final was 72-43, as PSU (7-5) outscored the Mounts (1-9) 44-18 in the final 20 minutes.

Forward Billy Oliver was one of five Nittany Lions in double-figures (a career-high 13 points and three blocks). He said coach Pat Chambers did not mince words at halftime, when State held a 28-25 advantage.

“He's always trying to motivate us and he wants more from us,” Oliver said. “Even if you're playing great, he wants to get that extra level out of you.”

The Lions played anything but great in the first half, making only 9 of 26 shots and holding a slim 18-16 rebounding edge.

But Oliver got things rolling early in the second half, opening the action with a wide-open 3-pointer. State made its first three shots as the lead grew to 37-12.

As the shots started to fall, the Lions also forced the action on defense. Mount St. Mary's scored only three points in the first five minutes of the second half and trailed 43-28 at the first media timeout.

Then Penn State began to run. With 9:53 left in the game, guard Tim Frazier blew past the MSM defense on a break and scored a layup to make it 54-34.

“It was nice to see us come out and play hard that second half,” Chambers said.

So did the sharp shooting spark the rest of PSU's game?

“You hate to admit it, but probably,” Chambers said. “I try to teach them, it doesn't matter about making or missing shots, that shouldn't dictate your effort.”

Though this was Chambers' first post-finals week game as head coach at Penn State, he knew the Lions' history of playing poorly in these circumstances. That was never more evident than last winter, when veteran PSU lost at home to Maine, 74-64.

“We know what happened last year,” the coach said.

As such, he changed up his typical routine and spent time with the team out on the floor before this game. The fact that the Lions were riding a string of three straight losses heading into finals played into that, too.

“We have a youthful team,” he said. “I just decided I have to be out there and make sure that they're preparing themselves properly for the game. I wish I would have thought about it sooner. But you're going to see me out there a lot more often.”

He wanted to make sure they would, “get a sweat going, get a bead going. Get mentally prepared, get mentally focused.”

Fortunately, the caliber of the opponent was such that the Lions could spend all of warmups and the entire first half doing just that. And once things clicked in the second half, they easily dispatched the Mounts.

Frazier led the way with 15 points despite going 1 of 7 from the floor in the first half. Cammeron Woodyard added a career-high 14, while Jermaine Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak were also in doubles with 10 each.

Forward Raven Barber led Mount St. Mary's with 11 points off the bench.


• The Lions made 18 of 27 shots (66.7 percent) in the second half.

• Penn State had nine steals in the game.

• Next up for PSU is a Wednesday home game with Cornell. The Big Red plays at Illinois Monday night. Some road trip.


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