PSU’s Team Effort Takes Down Gophers

Nittany Lions win second straight as all nine men who play contribute to the cause.

With starting forward Brandon Taylor out due to a knee injury and leading scorer D.J. Newbill struggling through a rough shooting night, Penn State coach Pat Chambers needed somebody to step up against Minnesota at the Jordan Center Wednesday.

Instead, everybody stepped up.

The Nittany Lions got positive minutes from all nine men who saw the floor in holding on to beat Minnesota, 63-58. For PSU (14-7, 2-6), it was the second straight win after six losses to open Big Ten play.

“Everybody did their job today, and that was great for us,” said Newbill, who finally came alive late in the game and finished with a team high 12 points. Of the eight other Lions who played, all scored between three and nine points, and seven logged at least 15 minutes.

“It's great to see other guys step up,” PSU coach Pat Chambers said.

Different people did different things, but it was all important.

Guard Geno Thorpe had a strong all-around game, with nine points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals. Backcourt mate Shep Garner had a poor shooting night (1 of 4) but came through with a clutch steal in the final minute.

Juco transfer guard Devin Foster (shown above) came off the bench and continued to impress. He made every shot he took (three field goals, two free throws) in finishing with eight points.

Centers Donovon Jack and Jordan Dickerson combined for seven blocks, and Dickerson was strong defensively late. Forward Ross Travis had six points, four rebounds and played well defensively.

Even redshirt freshmen Payton Banks and Julian Moore got in on the act. Banks made three 3-pointers in the first half, while Moore hit his only two shots for four points.

“It's great to see other guys step up,” PSU coach Pat Chambers said.

TURNING THE TABLE

Minnesota (13-9, 2-7) used pressure defense to overcome a 10-point halftime lead and make things interesting. But, after relying on PSU turnovers to score so often themselves, the Gophers threw away the rock when it mattered most.

Down 61-58 with less than 45 seconds to go, Minnesota guard Andre Hollins tried to run a pick and roll. But PSU's defense was swarming, and Garner rotated over for the steal. Garner then made one of two free throws to make it 62-58 with 29 seconds showing.

On the next possession, Gopher guard Deandre Mathieu threw a low pass to teammate Maurice Walker. Thorpe got a hand on it. The ball squirted through Walker's legs and Newbill grabbed it for another steal, PSU's 10th of the game. Newbill made one of two free throws to account for the final score.

Dickerson rejected Joey King's late 3-point try (the team's ninth block of the night) to end it.

“I'm really proud of the way we finished that game to take the victory,” Chambers said.

“You've got to give Penn State credit,” Minnesota coach Richard Petino added. “But we just made too many mistakes at the end of the basketball game to ever win. We didn't deserve to win tonight.”

STEPPING UP

That was an ironic twist of fate for the Gophers, who looked all but dead at the half. They trailed 33-23, even though Newbill had only made one shot. But in the second half, Minnesota finally began to hit some buckets, which allowed the Big Ten's leader in team steals to dial up the pressure after every make.

Penn State attacked at times, but also panicked at times. Newbill accounted for six turnovers, Garner three. And Minnesota crept right back in it, eventually taking a 46-45 lead on a Hollins 3-pointer with 8:37 to go.

But PSU later responded with a breakaway layup by Foster to make it 47-46, and Newbill took over down the stretch. He scored nine straight points for the Lions as they pulled ahead 56-50 with 4:09 showing.

The Gophers got within two when Mathieu stole Newbill's inbound pass and scored to make it 60-58 with 43 seconds to go. But Penn State responded with back-to-back strong defensive possessions of its own.

“We just played great team defense,” Newbill said. “We were moving and talking.”

TAYLOR UPDATE

Taylor dressed but had a heavy brace on his left knee, and did not seem remotely close to being able to play. Chambers called him “day to day.”

Taylor sustained what PSU is calling a sprain in the RU win. The injury snapped a streak of 27 straight starts for Taylor and also caused him to miss the first game of his Penn State career.

MINNY DRIVER

Hollins led the Gophers with 17 points. He was 6 of 10 from the floor, 4 of 8 from the arc and made both of his free throw attempts. Nobody else was in doubles for Minnesota, which had won the previous five games in the series.

NEXT UP…

…for the Lions is a Saturday game at Illinois. The action tips at 1 p.m. and can be seen on BTN.


Fight On State Top Stories