PSU Thumps Gardner-Webb

Light turnout of fans doesn't bother the Nittany Lions as they score a season-high 104 points to improve to 7-4.

Even before he knew the region would be pelted by a snowstorm, Penn State coach Ed DeChellis expected a low turnout of fans for Saturday's home game with Gardner-Webb.

Tip was slated for 9 p.m. because of graduation ceremonies in the arena earlier in the day. School was out of session. And there were any number of other interesting sporting activities going on at the same time, including the PSU women's volleyball team playing for a national title on ESPN2.

The snow was simply the capper, preventing even DeChellis' wife, Kim, from making it to the hoop game.

“She couldn't get out of the driveway because I wasn't home to shovel,” he explained.

A head count just before the action began revealed roughly 600 hearty souls to be sitting in the 15,261-seat arena. But the Lions didn't seem to mind, opening with a 30-4 run on the way to improving to 7-4 with a 105-57 victory. The Runnin' Bulldogs, who made only 4 of their first 23 shots, lost their seventh straight in falling to 3-7.

“I was proud of them for that,” DeChellis said of his team's high-octane performance in the face of an underwhelming … uh … crowd. “This was not an easy atmosphere to play in. … But our kids came out and … I think we set the tone.”

Leading scorer Talor Battle hit a pair of early 3-pointers to get PSU rolling. Later, Chris Babb had a steal and passed ahead to rookie guard Tim Frazier, who threw home a dunk to give PSU a 22-4 lead.

This was seven minutes into the game, and GWU could not make a shot on the other end.

“Especially over break, nobody is here, so we had to create our own energy,” Babb said.

The lead reached 31 points (41-10) on a Jeff Brooks triple with 3:58 left in the first half. By that time, DeChellis had already cleared his bench. Eleven different Lions played in the first half and eight of them scored, led by Battle's 13 points.

Though GWU scratched back within 20 at the break (44-24), it was obvious to the hundreds on hand that the game had been long since decided. Some folks actually headed for the exits at the break.

They missed the Runnin' Bulldogs slicing the lead to 44-26 on the first play of the second half, when Anton Silver made a 17-footer.

But Battle countered with a 3-pointer to spark another run and within minutes the lead was back to 26, 52-26. It would grow to 48 in garbage time.

The two highlights of the final 10 minutes?

First, the Nittany Lion athletic department put the women's volleyball team's national-championship clinching point against Texas in Tampa live on the scoreboard big screens. And when PSU won the volleyball match, cheers erupted throughout the BJC.

Second, the men's basketball team breaking the century mark for the first time this season. It happened on a Bill Edwards' 3-pointer with 3:20 remaining.

Battle led Penn State with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting despite spending the final 10:41 on the bench.

GWU coach Rick Scruggs, whose squad has also lost to North Carolina (93-72) and Duke (113-68) this season, was impressed by the junior guard.

“Battle could play on any team we've played against this year,” he said. “He'd fit in great with Duke or Carolina.”

Frazier added 18 points for State, as 11 of the 12 Lions who played scored at least one bucket. Babb also had a terrific all-around game, scoring 12 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds.

Silver was the only GWU player to get rolling offensively, pouring in 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

To add insult to injury, the Runnin' Bulldogs were not running anywhere after the game, either. Their commercial flight out of State College was canceled. So they will have to bus to Pittsburgh Sunday and fly back to North Carolina Sunday night.

Or so Scruggs hopes.

“We just got beat by 50 and I'm not sure we can get home, so you many have to keep us,” he joked to the handful of media members covering the game, suggesting a couple of players could stay with each scribe.

DeChellis, meanwhile, made sure to give a shout-out to the real MVPs of the night.

“I thought the people here were tremendous,” he said. “To brave the elements and come out, I really appreciate that.”


• Official attendance (tickets sold) was listed at 4,697.

• There were some amazing stats in this game. Penn State held the following advantages: points in the paint, 36-2; points off turnovers, 33-8; second-chance points, 10-2; fast-break points, 8-0.

• Speaking of which, how does a team score 104 points and only have eight come off the break? We think there may have been some issues with the stat crew on that one.

• The Lions made 28 of 32 free throws, including 19 of 19 in the second half.

• Penn State's holiday home stand continues Monday, when American visits the BJC in an always-fun 5 p.m. tip.


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