In exhibition action that does not count against either team's record, Division II Shippensburg used a 29-point effort from guard Chuck Davis to stun Penn State, 67-61. The Red Raiders outscored the red-faced Nittany Lions 39-24 in the second half and forced 20 PSU turnovers in the game on the way to the victory.
I just think it's embarrassing for us, said PSU guard Ben Luber, who scored 13 points. Nothing against them, they're a good basketball team, but there's no way we should lose that game.
You get beat on your home floor, yeah it's a little bit embarrassing, Lion coach Ed DeChellis added. Let's see how we respond. It's nothing against them; you just don't want to lose on your home floor. We're gonna play some pretty good teams this year. We've got to improve and we've got to improve rapidly.
So what went wrong for Penn State? After controlling the first half, as DeChellis rotated 10 different players and mixed and matched his lineups, the Lions took a 37-28 lead into the locker room. They came out flat after the break, with seven turnovers in the first seven minutes as Ship tied it, 41-41, on a Davis drive.
The Red Raiders simply outplayed PSU the rest of the way. And every time they needed a bucket, Davis, an athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior who was the PSAC Western Division Player of the Year last season, responded with a jumper or a slash to the hole.
And that happened in part because Penn State's best wing defender, Geary Claxton, was on the bench with a broken hand sustained in an exhibition win over Edinboro last Wednesday. Without Claxton, the Lions went primarily with a three-guard offense, and neither Danny Morrissey nor Mike Walker could stop Davis.
True freshman forward D.J. Jackson tried to guard Davis in the first half but was not nearly quick enough, giving up several easy buckets while committing two fouls.
He's good, Walker said of Davis, who went off for 30 points against Ohio University last season. He was aggressive tonight and in the second half, especially toward the end, they basically just cleared out for him and we didn't have an answer. He came in and played better than we did.
In situations where he had a defensive mismatch against his team last season, DeChellis typically went to an effective zone. But he steadfastly refused to do it Monday and appeared to take a bit of pleasure in knocking any overconfidence out of his troops.
We told them Chucky Davis is a very good player; he can play anywhere in the country, really, DeChellis said. We didn't change defenses on purpose. I wanted to show them that we've got to guard somebody. We could have changed to zone and tried to camouflage some things, but I thought it was important for us to come out and just play. These are the kind of guys were are going to face all year.
But that wasn't the only area where PSU struggled. Though holding a considerable size advantage over the Red Raiders, the Lions managed one offensive rebound in the first half and four in the game, and Morrissey had three of them.
State committed 22 fouls on the night, 10 of them offensive. And most of those were on illegal screens. Could it have been a coincidence that Big Ten commissioner of officials Rich Falk was in the house? But the quick whistles were hardly an excuse for the loss.
The Lions were outscored off the bench (17-10), in points off turnovers (20-13), on fast breaks (10-4) and in the paint (24-20).
There was no guys getting upset or mad, or a guy rallying, DeChellis said. There wasn't any coming together in terms of leadership.
That may have had something to do with the preseason All-Big Ten selection Claxton not playing. Starting shooting guard Mooch Jackson, who is recovering from a turned ankle, sat out for precautionary reasons, as well.
But that did not matter to DeChellis.
Geary Claxton ain't playing, DeChellis said. He's a good player, but he's not playing. David Jackson didn't play. Other guys have to step up and do what they can do. We didn't do that.
Penn State is now saying Claxton is expected to miss two to four weeks with the broken hand. DeChellis is expecting it to be the latter.
Weeks, he said when asked when his top player might return. I don't plan to see him until the first part of December.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the regular season starts this Friday, when Morehead State comes calling to the BJC. And what had seemed like a certain win all of a sudden has a different look to it.
Hopefully this will be a learning experience for us, DeChellis said.
We need to play a lot harder than we did tonight, Luber said. Maybe it's good to lose to a team like Shippensburg early in the season, just to set us back to reality. You're never as good as you think you are. And tonight we thought we could just go out there and win the game. Obviously we were wrong.
Junior center Brandon Hassell, who missed the Edinboro game with a sore back, started Monday and dominated in the first half. He was perfect from the field (3-3) and the line (2-2) for six points and three rebounds in 10 minutes. He had two points and one rebound in 13 minutes in the second half.
Morrissey led the Lions with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting (3 of 5 from the arc).
Penn State did not block a shot in the game.
Shippensburg had 10 steals, with six of them by Davis.
The Red Raiders beat PSU despite hitting only 3 of 17 triples.
Luber, the smallest player on PSU's roster at 6-0, had a team-high five rebounds.
PSU's true freshmen, D.J. Jackson and Andrew Jones, combined for five turnovers in 15 minutes.