Lions Drop Big Ten Opener

Poor defense proves costly as Penn State's frustrations at Minnesota continue. The Lions have one win all-time at Williams Arena.

Penn State dropped a 75-70 decision at Minnesota in the Big Ten opener for both teams Tuesday, but the Golden Gophers' vaunted depth was not the key to the game.

Rather, an explosion from guard Lawrence Westbrook -- who entered the nights' action averaging 12.9 points per game -- proved to be the Nittany Lions' undoing as they slipped to 8-5 on the season.

Westbrook was 11 of 16 from the field and 4 of 6 from the arc for a game-high 29-points as Minnesota improved to 10-3 and remained perfect at home on the season. PSU is 1-16 all-time in Williams Arena.

The Lions got a strong offensive performance from guard Talor Battle, who tallied 23 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. And they showed character in overcoming an early double-digit deficit to actually gain control of the game early in the second half.

PSU opened the second stanza with a 15-3 run to take a 44-37 lead. But, as was the case most of the night, poor defense hurt the Lions. Blake Hoffarber made a wide-open triple to throw momentum back into Minnesota's favor.

The game was tight the rest of the way.

The Gophers were up 59-58 before Westbrook made a 3-pointer. Then Battle made a triple. The Westbrook made another 3-pointer. Minnesota led 65-61 with 4:23 left and the Lions never made a serious run from that point.

Center Andrew Jones has 12 points and 8 rebounds, and forward D.J. Jackson was also in doubles with 11 points. But PSU only received nine points from the bench. And guard Chris Babb, back in the starting lineup, made only 1 of 5 shots.

Penn State's Big Ten home opener is Sunday against Wisconsin.

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