Battle Leads Penn State to Easy Win

Junior guard goes off for 27 points and 10 rebounds in 15-point victory over Penn in the season-opener at the BJC.

After Talor Battle went off for 27 points and 10 rebounds in Penn State's season-opening 70-55 win over Penn at the Jordan Center, Quaker coach Glen Miller adeptly summed up what he had seen from the Nittany Lion guard.

“We had a tough time and didn't have an answer for him,” Miller said, “as many teams don't.”

Battle posted 17 points in the first 14 minutes of the game. But on a night when the officiating was extremely tight, neither team was able to generate much momentum most of the way. Battle cooled off until there was 13:38 left in the game, at which point the PSU lead was 43-38.

Then he took over, scoring on a spinning, leaning drive.

He scored 10 points the rest of the way and crashed the defensivel boards relentlessly as the Lions pulled away for the victory.

“He's a great player, a first-team All-Big Ten player,” PSU coach Ed DeChellis said. “And when things get tight, those guys want the ball. He's going to do something with it, and usually it's going in the basket.”

The beauty of Battle's game this time out is he was far from perfect in one key are -- 3-point shooting. He made only 2 of 8 triples on the night, which was typical of State's overall struggles from distance (9 of 27).

But he made up for it by being practically unstoppable on drives to the basket. Battle made 9 of his 12 2-point attempts, most of them after weaving through traffic and exploding through the big men.

“Guess I better stick with shooting the 2(-pointers), huh?” Battle joked afterward. “… My shot wasn't there tonight, but that's the ability I have: to attack then rim and score in the paint when my shot isn't falling. I tried to do that late in the game.”

First-year starting forward Jeff Brooks also stepped up for the Lions, delivering 10 points after making 3 of 4 from the field and 2 of 4 from the arc. Brooks hit only 10 of 39 3-pointers last season but said he worked on adding more arc to his shot in the off-season.

“It's big, I can't lie,” he said when asked what the performance meant to him, especially with former starter Jamelle Cornley having graduated. “I worked so hard in the off-season and preseason. To come out and have some shots go down and play well, it's pretty big.”

DeChellis, meanwhile, noted that the 6-foot-8 junior had one rebound on the night. PSU won the rebounding war in this game, 32-31, but had to rally to get there. The Lions were also a horrid 9 of 17 from the free-throw line. And there was more nit for DeChellis to pick.

“We didn't play defense the way we needed to,” he said. “We have a lot of stuff we have to work on.”

The tight officiating hurt Penn worse than Penn State. Tyler Bernardini scored the Quakers' first 10 points but was limited to 17 minutes overall due to foul trouble.

DeChellis, meanwhile rotated 11 players, and the Lions didn't skip a beat when starting center Andrew Jones and later backup Andrew Ott both fouled out.

Of course, the fact that Battle logged 39 minutes had something to do with that.

“Outstanding performance,” DeChellis said.

GAME NOTES

• Walk-on guard Adam Highberger, a Blairsville native, saw eight minutes off the bench in the first half. He made 2 of 3 3-pointers and finished with six points.

• Freshman Tim Frazier and redshirt freshman Billy Oliver were the only Lions who played and did not score.

• Actor Denzel Washington was sitting behind the Penn bench. His son, Malcolm, is a freshman with the Quakers.

• Penn State plays host to Robert Morris Monday at 7:30 p.m.


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