Shot Through the Heart

Penn State sizzles from the field in beating SHU at the Jordan Center Wednesday. But poor defense nearly give the Lions a bad name.

After a horrid shooting effort during a 1-2 showing at the Charleston Classic last weekend, Penn State returned to the friendly confines of the Jordan Center Wednesday night. The arena's rims welcomed back the Nittany Lions with open arms.

PSU shot a sizzling 63.8 percent from the field, 46.2 percent from the arc and 84 percent from the stripe in posting a season-high 87 points.

Unfortunately, the rims were nearly as kind to visiting Sacred Heart, which bombed in 10 of 18 second-half triples to keep it close most of the evening before the Lions finally pulled away with a 12-point win (87-75).

Asked whether he was more pleased with the good shooting or disappointed with the poor defense, Lion coach Ed DeChellis said, “It's a little of both. I'm glad we were able to make some baskets and got into some things. But defensively we were very porous, we let them do what they do, and that was disappointing.”

Junior forward David Jackson, who led Penn State (4-2) with a career-high 26 points, said DeChellis was not quite so diplomatic in the locker room after the game.

“He wasn't pleased with our effort and intensity, and that's something we have to bring every night,” Jackson said. “But give Sacred Heart credit. They ran their offense to a 'T' and came off the screens and made good shots.”

The Pioneers only have three viable offensive weapons -- guards Corey Hassan, Ryan Litke and Chauncey Hardy. All are streaky deadeye shooters who are also comfortable driving and kicking to one another.

But through the game's first 23 minutes, they could not get into a groove. Meanwhile, Jackson was taking care of business in the paint and at the line for the Lions, and they led 44-30 with 17 minutes to go.

Then PSU got lazy on defense. And the SHU guards went off, bombing in eight 3-pointers over the next 10 minutes to trim the lead to 62-61.

“We couldn't control their little guards,” DeChellis said.

Only an outstanding run by Lion rookie swingman Bill Edwards, who scored all 10 of his points during that same stretch, prevented the Pioneers from taking the lead.

“We ran a couple sets that got me open, and had some nice kick-outs to me,” said Edwards, who was still a bit gimpy from a knee injury that forced him to miss State's first three games. “I was just trying to get into the rotation and help my teammates out as best I could.”

One issue with Edwards, though, was that the sore knee gave him issues on the defensive end. He headed to the bench for the stretch drive. To get their offense going again, the Lions went into attack mode.

Seven of their next nine points came from the stripe as Talor Battle, Tim Frazier and Jackson all went strong to the bucket and helped boost the lead back to 73-66. Though overshadowed by Jackson, Battle had his best game of the year, with an outstanding line that included 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and a 6-of-7 showing from the line. He also had eight rebounds and five assists.

“Talor managed the ballgame in the second half very well,” DeChellis said.

Jackson, meanwhile, finished 8 of 10 from the field and 9 of 11 from the line. Of the 10 Lions who played, only rookie center Sasa Borovnjak didn't score. And everyone who did score made at least 50 percent of their shots, a vast improvement from the team's 33-percent effort in Charleston.

Jackson chalked up some of that to being at home.

“It was good for us to come here to where we practice every day and to be able to shoot and be comfortable in our own gym,” he said. “At the same time, we can't play every game here, so have to find a way to get our offense going when we're on the road.”

SHORT SHOTS

• Hassan finished with 24, Hardy 21 and Litke 10 for SHU (2-3). The rest of the team combined for 20 points.

• PSU starting forward Jeff Brooks was limited to 13 minutes and four points due to foul trouble.

• Penn State was outrebounded 26-21 and only had two offensive boards in the game.

• Most of the team will gather at DeChellis' house for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. A few of the Lions who live within driving distance will go to their own homes.

• The Lions are back in action Monday at Virginia as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.


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