Nittany Lions Handle Purdue

The only senior on the Penn State basketball team, Travis Parker continued his late-season surge against Purdue in West Lafayette Saturday. Parker tallied a game-high 21 points to lead the Nittany Lions to a comfortable 69-61 victory against the Boilermakers.

The win was Penn State's third on the road in the conference this season, matching a school record. The Lions came into the season having lost 32 straight league road games.

More importantly, Penn State improved to 13-11 overall (5-8 Big Ten), meaning it now must win only one of its final three regular-season outings to clinch a .500 record and likely berth in the NIT.

“I thought it was a great team effort and I'm really proud of our kids,” Lion coach Ed DeChellis told the Penn State Radio Network.

Travis Parker came into the game as one of the hottest players in the conference, having made 28 of 47 shots and 12 of 17 3-pointers in the four previous contests. It was more of the same against the Boilermakers, as he went 7 of 15 from the floor and 4 of 7 from the arc.

He scored eight points early in the second half — on a 12-footer and a pair of triples — as the Lions gave themselves double-digit breathing room in what had been a tight game.

From there, the Boilermakers cut it below 10 only once when the outcome was still in question — 55-47 with 3:48 left — but David Jackson countered with a 3-pointer and Parker followed that with a bucket, and Purdue was finished.

The Boilers trimmed it back under 10 in the final minute thanks to some missed free throws by the Lions, making the final seem closer than the game actually was.

“I thought maybe we played our best game of the year for 39 minutes,” DeChellis said on his postgame radio show.

Four of Penn State's five starters reached doubles, including freshman Jamelle Cornley, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds for his first career double-double. Point guard Ben Luber had 13 points, hit three treys in the first half and came through with seven assists. Jackson had a dozen points and went 3 of 6 from the arc.

The only Lion starter not to score at least 10? Leading scorer Geary Claxton, who made up for it by complementing his eight points with a career-high 15 rebounds and three assists.

The Boilermakers (9-15, 3-10) constantly collapsed on Claxton and Cornley, but rather than forcing the action the duo kicked the ball back out. The result: wide-open looks for Parker and company off great ball movement. Penn State had assists on 18 of its 22 field goals and committed only eight turnovers in the game. Claxton and Cornley had one turnover between them.

“I thought those guys did a great job of reversing the ball out of the post,” DeChellis said.

Likewise, Parker was thankful for the unselfish play that allowed him to put together another strong game.

“We're sharing,” he said on the radio postgame show. “It is not an individual game. Coach has been stressing that, so we're trying to share the ball.”

GAME NOTES

• Big man Matt Kiefer led Purdue with 17 points but scored only three in the second half.

• Penn State's horrible free-throw shooting continued, as the Lions made only 15 of 25 from the line.

• Though Purdue is likely to finish in last place in the Big Ten, the Boilermakers have been effective at home. They entered this game at 8-3 in Mackey Arena, and beat Wisconsin (70-62) and then-No. 22 Michigan (84-70) in its previous two games in the building.

• Next up for Penn State is a Wednesday trip to Indiana. The game tips at 8 p.m.

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