Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, the former far outweighed the latter as they built a 49-24 halftime lead over Penn at the Palestra in Philadelphia before settling for a closer-than-it-needed-to-be 85-73 victory.
But it was just that — a victory — Penn State's fifth against no losses on the young campaign. Guard Stanley Pringle led the way for the Lions with a career-high 25 points (to go along with seven assists and five rebounds), 18 of which came in a first half when PSU was on fire.
The first half was really fun to watch, Lion coach Ed DeChellis said on his post-game radio show. We just did everything right. We couldn't make a mistake. I thought our guys really paid attention to details defensively. We were sharp. We got our transition game going.
DeChellis didn't much care that his offense cooled a bit in the second half, attributing that at least in part to the natural tendency of a team to ease up after building a monster lead. What happened on the other end of the floor, where the Quakers (1-3) put up 49 points of their own in the final 20 minutes, was troubling.
I just didn't think we guarded the same way, he said. We gave them some easy baskets. We just didn't stop them the way we needed to.
Penn cut the lead to 71-61 with 3:28 to play, but Penn State responded with a 5-0 run to give itself some breathing room. Despite going only 22 of 36 from the free-throw line in the game, the Lions made them when they mattered and held on for the win.
As the university is off this week for Thanksgiving break, the Nittany Lions will remain in Philadelphia before facing Rhode Island at the Palestra Friday in a semifinal game of the Philly Hoop Classic. The winner will likely face Villanova Saturday night, the loser Towson.
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