Nittany Lions Dominate the Leopards

Sophomore guard Talor Battle comes up just shy of a triple-double as Penn State improves to 10-2 on the season.

Penn State sophomore guard Talor Battle had another stat-stuffer game Sunday, narrowly missing his first career triple-double in an 83-55 blowout of Lafayette at the Jordan Center.

His line included 11 points, eight assists and 10 rebounds, and the first two numbers impressed Nittany Lion senior forward Jamelle Cornley. But the third number — those 10 rebounds — didn't go over particularly well with the burly 6-foot-5, 240-pounder.

By Cornley's reckoning, a 5-11, 165-pounder like Battle has no business hitting the glass so hard.

“I always do the hard work, and he comes in to steal my glory,” Cornley said, the smile on his face indicating he was having some fun at his diminutive teammate's expense.

Battle entered Sunday's action ranked first on the team and second in the Big Ten with an average of 19.4 points per game. But when it became clear that the struggling Leopards (2-8) didn't have the quickness to hang with the Nittany Lions (10-2), Battle focused on other areas of his game.

He finished the first half with seven points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists, and Penn State held a 36-29 lead that in truth appeared to be insurmountable. Lion coach Ed DeChellis thought his team was “walking in mud” early after taking a week off for finals, but was happy to see Battle playing so well.

“That's what we need him to do,” DeChellis said. “There are other things to do besides score. You can make other guys better.”

That was especially true when Penn State put the game away early in the second half. The Lions opened the period with five straight points, including a play where Battle grabbed a defensive rebound, took off up the floor and hit fellow guard Stanley Pringle for a break-away layup.

“He's somebody who, when he gets the defensive rebound, he's off,” Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon said.

Taking their cue from Battle, the Lions played unselfish ball all afternoon, and once the offense began to click they were practically unstoppable. PSU made 64.5 percent of its shots in the second half, as the game became a blowout.

Four of State's five starters reached doubles, led by Pringle (17), Cornley (16), Battle (11) and center Andrew Jones (10). That quartet went a collective 24 of 36.

“One of our focuses is passing up good shots for great shots,” Cornley said.

As for his earlier shot at Battle, Cornley admits he knows full well how important the little guy is to the Nittany Lions' fortunes, even when he's stealing rebounds from the big men.

“When he's able to get the points, rebounds and assists, he makes us so hard to defend,” Cornley said.

GAME NOTES

• Senior guard Danny Morrissey re-aggravated a knee sprain in the first half and did not return.

• Villanova transfer Andrew Ott, a 6-10 center, saw his first action of the season. He looked like he had not played in a game in a while, with one point and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

• The loudest round of applause came during the first timeout of the game, when five members of Penn State's national championship women's volleyball team were introduced.

• The Lions take on Sacred Heart at the BJC Tuesday night before taking a week off for the holidays.

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