Lions Roll in Exhibition

Penn State cruised to an easy win over Division II Edinboro in a game where the staff cleared the bench in both halves. But a sloppy final 12 minutes gave DeChellis plenty of motivational fuel as opener nears.

Penn State closed its exhibition schedule with a 71-58 win over Division II Edinboro at the Jordan Center Thursday night, and in doing so proved one thing: The Nittany Lions would be the class of the PSAC.

That's because they also hammered D-II Lock Haven a week earlier. From here on out, however, Penn State tangles with major-college competition. And starting with next Saturday's opener against Cornell at the BJC, the games count.

Asked if his overhauled squad is prepared for that challenge, third-year coach Ed DeChellis was concise.

“Nope,” he said, and went on to talk about a poor second half, even invoking the classic Paternoese statement heard so often in these parts: “We got out of whack.”

Which, while true, did not address the fact that the game was not nearly as close the final score indicated. Penn State was not sharp to start, and even fell behind 6-4 when former Lion Daren Tielsch broke free in the lane for a dunk. It was 9-9 at the 15:50 mark when the Nits put the clamps down defensively and hit the accelerator on offense.

Edinboro went scoreless for nearly 10 minutes, a stretch that saw PSU crank up the fastbreak, getting dunks from starting small forward Geary Claxton and Brandon Hassell, who came off the bench in the post. A Claxton layup at 6:02 made it 26-9 and it only got worse from there.

The lead hit 26 (46-20) on a half-court alley oop jam from starting point guard Ben Luber to Claxton, and reached 28 (51-23) when starting power forward Travis Parker sliced down the lane for a layup. At the other end, Claxton blocked Tielsch's dunk attempt, and at the next dead ball DeChellis — who had played his walk-ons late in the first half — cleared the bench again.

Tielsch, a 6-foot-6 forward who has beefed up considerably since leaving Penn State, did not get his second bucket until there was 12:40 left in the game. He had four points at the time. He finished with 22 — meaning he scored 20 during garbage time. And that didn't go over well with DeChellis.

“I'm not really happy with the bench play,” he said. Which was only kind of accurate. The issues the Lions had late, coupled with Cornell's closer-than-expected 67-62 loss at No. 16 Syracuse Wednesday, gave him plenty of ammunition to keep the troops motivated between now and the opener. And that made him happy.

“I think we can get their attention now,” he said.

Claxton, who finished with a team-high 16 points and six boards in 21 minutes in a game where he again was — by a wide margin — the best player in the building, is looking forward to the challenge.

“We're anxious to play our first game,” he reported. “I know I'm ready to play.”

NOTES: Freshman Joonas Suotamo started at center but only played five minutes in the first half. DeChellis wanted to see how Hassell did off the pine. He had four points and two boards in eight minutes before the break. He started the second half. … DeChellis said he realizes how good Claxton is, but added, “In the [Big Ten], they aren't going to let him do some of the things he's been doing.” … No Lion scholarship player logged more than 23 minutes in this game and none logged less than nine. … Tipoff for the Cornell game is slated for 12:30 p.m.


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