State improved to 6-3 on the season, achieving its best mark through nine games since the 2000-01 campaign. UNH fell to 2-9 with its fourth straight loss.
They just wanted to go home, like anyone else, Lion coach Ed DeChellis said of his players. They've had enough of me. But they had some business to take care of first.
Sophomore forward Geary Claxton led PSU with 18 points, breaking out of a mini slump by going 7 of 12 from the floor. Point guard Ben Luber added 16 points. They had three and four 3-pointers, respectively, each figure a personal best. State was season-best 11 of 22 from the arc in the game.
We were getting good looks, Luber said. We've been working on that in practice.
Claxton got the Lions rolling early, making his first four shots, three of them from the arc, to fuel an 11-4 lead. UNH's collapsing zone led to the open shots, and the PSU big men ran the inside-out game to perfection.
We were giving up good shots to get great shots, said rookie forward Jamelle Cornley.
State held the Wildcats at arm's length the rest of the half, going 6 of 7 on 3-pointers and taking a 34-21 lead into the locker room after Claxton capped the period with an alley-oop off an inbound pass from David Jackson with .7 seconds left.
Penn State pounded the ball inside early in the second half, as Claxton, Cornley and senior Travis Parker all did damage to blow it open (the lead eventually reached 27). Cornley scored nine of his 13 in the second half, as he and the team capped the fall semester in a positive fashion.
We're going home on a good note, he said after the game.
Added Claxton: Everybody is looking forward to going home and seeing our folks. There's no place like home.
Lion freshman forward Joonas Suotamo dressed for the first time this season and played three minutes. He had been out with what is described as a stress reaction to his left foot.
Suotamo was 0-1 from the field and had one rebound.
The Nittany Lions are off until Dec. 28, when IPFW visits the BJC. The players took off for their respective homes after Tuesday's game and will head back to campus Christmas night.
Assistant coaches Hilliary Scott and Dan Earl will spend the next couple of days on the road recruiting.
• Forward Brandon Hassell, a starter in PSU's first seven games, logged only 10 minutes in this one. He did not play in the first half, but went 4 of 4 from the strip in the second. DeChellis said he moved Hassell to the bench (he was replaced by Cornley) because he was playing poorly. The coach added that Hassell will play more if he picks it up in practice.
• Though he could not give details, DeChellis said the team came through the fall semester with a high overall GPA and that five Lions made the dean's list.
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