Penn State entered Saturday's game at Indiana with an 0-15 all-time record at Assembly Hall. But the Nittany Lions finally broke through the ice this time, grabbing an early lead and holding the youthful Hoosiers at arm's length the rest of the way in winning, 65-55.
PSU improved to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten with the victory. Indiana fell to 5-12 and 0-5 with its eighth-straight loss.
Guard Stanley Pringle led the way for the Lions with 19 points, six assists and no turnovers. Forward Jamelle Cornley had 17 points and four rebounds, while guard Talor Battle had a dozen points and three assists despite being hampered by a hip injury late in the game.
I'm proud of our kids, PSU coach Ed DeChellis said on his post-game radio show. This is still a tough place to play. [Indiana] cranked it up on us in the second half, but we made some free throws and made some foul shots down the stretch.
The Nittany Lions led from the start, and moved in front 27-13 when backup center Andrew Ott hit one of two free throws with 7:40 remaining in the first half.
But Indiana, which was blown up after Kelvin Sampson's disastrous run in Bloomington ended last season, didn't roll over. First-year coach Tom Crean starts four true freshmen, including talented power forward Tom Pritchard, and the Hoosiers played with enough heart to stick around the rest of the way.
Penn State led 31-23 at the break even though it did not have an offensive rebound. Pringle paced the Lions in the opening half with 10 points and three assists. Pritchard set the tone for IU with 10 points before the break.
Pritchard was held to two points in the second half -- on a backdoor dunk -- but the scrappy Hoosiers kept it close. Even so, they could never get closer than five until the waning moments of the game.
This is still the road; it's a tough place to play, DeChellis said. There are a lot of ghosts flying around this building against us.
Those ghosts seemed to be up to no good for the Lions in the final minute, as Penn Stat kept wasting chances to seal the game. Up 59-53, Cornley threw a long bomb inbound pass from under the Hoosier bucket. It was aimed for Pringle, who had scored a similar play moments earlier, but this one went out of bounds.
IU inbounded and eventually got a layup from Devan Dumes to cut it to 59-55 with 40 seconds left.
Penn State quickly inbounded to senior guard Danny Morrissey, who was immediately fouled. He made two free throws for a 61-55 lead that gave the Lions more than enough breathing room.
After dropping a tight home game to Michigan State earlier in the week, the win in Bloomington helped Penn State regain momentum. This week, the Lions face No. 24 Michigan and Iowa at home, with a chance to gain a firm foothold in the upper half of the Big Ten.
They are two big, monster games for us, DeChellis said. We have to have 'em.