And that was more than enough to make the difference in Tech's tight 77-73 win. With the loss in its first road trip of the season, Penn State fell to 4-2 while fourth-year coach Ed DeChellis was left wondering what might have been.
I thought we really competed, we played hard, but we didn't execute at times, DeChellis said on his post-game radio show. The biggest disappointment is what we talked about for two days; we had to absorb pressure. There is no transition [defense] for turnovers that lead to easy baskets.
True enough, the game was tight most of the way and the Lions - lacking depth due to injuries and one key athlete who was in foul trouble all night - played with plenty of heart against a team that favors an fast tempo. But things tipped in favor of the Jackets (6-1) on a couple of key turnovers in the second half.
Penn State trailed 61-58 on a Jamelle Cornley jumper with 6:35 to go and had a chance to tie less than a minute later. But Tech's Zach Peacock stole a Danny Morrissey pass (Morrissey's sixth turnover of the game) and it led to Mario West making one of two free throws. The play seemed to send PSU staggering briefly.
The hole proved too deep - just barely - as PSU scrambled to make things interesting.
State cut it to 69-65 with less than two minutes to go and 72-68 with less than a minute to go, and then made it 75-73 on a David Jackson layup with less than 10 seconds left. But Morrow then hit a pair of late free throws to end it.
Cornley led the Lions with 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting while logging all 40 minutes. Three other PSU players hit doubles as the team had its highest scoring output of the season and proved it could roll with a ranked team on the road.
But that wasn't enough for Cornley and company.
We knew we had to execute, he said. We turned the ball over too much at times, and in the end that's what cost us. We knew what to expect, and that's what cost us.
Guard Clinch Lewis had 20 points to lead the Yellow Jackets, who came in averaging 88.3 points per game, their only loss to No. 1 UCLA.
Lion forward Geary Claxton did not start in his second game back from a broken hand but logged 28 minutes, with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals.
It was a wild night for Morrissey, who along with the six turnovers had seven assists and scored 10 points while going 2 of 3 from the arc. Point guard Ben Luber had nine assists. Luber, Morrissey and Jackson were 8 of 10 from the arc.
Penn State starting center Brandon Hassell was impressive when he was on the floor, scoring four points and bringing down five rebounds in 13 minutes. Unfortunately, he fouled out in that short span.
Backup center Milos Bogetic had a rough time in place of Hassell, going 2 of 6 from the floor with one rebound and three turnovers.
Next up for Penn State is a Saturday home game against Morgan State. The action tips at 4 p.m. It is Toys For Tots day, meaning kids get in for free and adults for $5 when they bring a new, unwrapped toy for the charity.