Nittany Lions Hit a Wall

Momentum built with win at Georgia Tech evaporates in lethargic home loss to Temple.

Fresh off a nationally televised upset of Georgia Tech in Atlanta Wednesday, Penn State returned home looking to build on what appeared to be a benchmark win for the program.

But against struggling Temple at the Jordan Center Saturday night, a brick wall was all that was built. And the Owls constructed it.

The lethargic Nittany Lions crashed headlong into that wall, wiping out every ounce of momentum they'd been riding with a 65-59 loss that was not as close as the final indicated.

“To be honest, I don't think we had the same energy [as they had against Georgia Tech],” said PSU guard Talor Battle, who scored a team-high 19 despite struggling from the floor (5-15), the arc (2-6) and the line (5-12). “We came out sluggish and it came back to bite us.”

Penn State fell to 7-2 on the season and saw a streak of nine straight home wins end. Temple, fresh off back-to-back losses to Buffalo and the other Miami (of Ohio, not Florida), improved to 4-3.

Especially troubling for the Nittany Lions is that the Owls got the job done with leading scorer Dionte Christmas being held to a season-low two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Fellow guard Semaj Inge picked up the slack with a career-high 19 points and forward Lavoy Allen added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

PSU senior forward Jamelle Cornley said part of the game plan was to take Christmas out of his comfort zone, then added, “but we didn't make a conscious effort to stop everyone else.”

Temple seized control midway through the first half. Cornley scored inside with 15:25 left before the break to give the Lions a 12-6 lead, but they then proceeded to go 14 possessions without a basket. By the time Cornley broke the slump with a 3-pointer at the 6:06 mark, PSU was down 19-17.

To make matters worse, starting guard Stanley Pringle rolled his right ankle during the stretch and never returned to the game. Afterward, Lion coach Ed DeChellis said he did not know the extent of the injury.

PSU managed to tie the game 21-21 on a Cornley garbage bucket with 3:33 to go before the break. But Temple scored the next seven points to cruise into intermission.

Lion center Andrew Jones tied it at 30-30 early in the second half, but the Owls quickly built the lead to nine and PSU never recovered. Even when the Lions cut it to 40-38 on a Cornley reverse midway through the final period, it had become such a chore for State to score that one got the sense it had no chance to win.

And that proved to be the case. People began filing to the exits when the lead hit 49-40 with 6:37 left. And it seemed like the air in the program left with them.

At issue is State's remaining non-conference schedule, which reads like a who's-who of the bottom fifth of the RPI -- Army, Lafayette, Mount St. Mary's and Sacred Heart, all at home.

So there may be a chance to re-build momentum heading into the Big Ten slate. But it is debatable whether it will be of the quality variety.

“It hurts us, but we're not dead,” Cornley said. “We'll be able to respond.”


• Cornley had 14 points and six rebounds for the Lions, but was on the receiving end of many of Temple's 10 blocked shot.

• Forced to play more than usual when Pringle went out, reserve guard Danny Morrissey struggled. He was 1 of 6 from the floor (all 3-pointers).

• Up next for the Lions is Wednesday's home game with Army. It tips at 7 p.m.

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