Penn State made a late charge but another sluggish offensive start and some shoddy perimeter defense proved too much to overcome in a 73-61 loss to Boston College in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions (3-3) got big performances from lead guards D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall but allowed the deficit to swell to as much as 20 points late in the second half.
Marshall led the Nittany Lions with 25 points.
Top performers: Marshall scored 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. Newbill had 22 points, five rebounds and three assists. No other Nittany Lion was in double figures, but Ross Travis grabbed 13 rebounds.
Olivier Hanlan had 22 points and Joe Rahon added 14 for Boston College (3-4), which connected on 5-of-8 3-point tries in the second half.
What went right: Penn State scratched its way back in the final minutes, cutting what had been a 20-point deficit with just over five minutes left to three with 3:08 to play, mostly with full-court pressure and the scoring of Marshall and Newbill. The Nittany Lions protected the ball in the second half, committing only three turnovers after a 10-turnover first half. Marshall and Newbill scored from the perimeter, the lane and the free-throw line.
What went wrong: The Nittany Lions allowed a struggling opponent to gain an early advantage, then could do little to stop them for the majority of the second half. No one stepped up to help Marshall and Newbill offensively and they had to create their own shots -- Penn State had just six assists Wednesday. Offensive movement with and without the ball was sluggish and the first-half turnovers helped put the Nittany Lions in a seven-point halftime hole. Penn State committed 26 personal fouls, which helped lead to a 10-point advantage at the free-throw line for the Eagles.
Statworthy: Travis' 13 rebounds were three better than his previous career high. … Penn State lost for just the second time in its last six Big Ten/ACC Challenges. … The Eagles have won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams. … Newbill and Marshall accounted for 14 of the Nittany Lions' 19 field goals, 14 of their 17 free throws, five of their six assists and 10 of their 13 turnovers.
Quotable: "There's not a team that plays harder in the country than they do." -- Boston College coach Steve Donahue on Penn State.
"In the first half we were playing too timid, but in the second half we loosened up and started playing smarter. We definitely played harder in the second half." -- Newbill, on Penn State's second-half comeback.
"I was disappointed with the first 20 minutes. But that last five minutes showed me something. That they have heart and they take pride in it. That's what I'm going to take away from this game." -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers
Summary: Once again, Penn State had trouble finding scoring, or any sort of offensive rhythm. This time, the Nittany Lions' defense let them down as well. A sluggish second half in front of a spotty late-night crowd put Penn State in too big of a hole and a furious rally could not get the Nittany Lions all the way back. Chambers said he needs other players to help Newbill and Marshall with the offensive load and Newbill's education as a point guard is only just beginning. The Nittany Lions will continue to battle under Chambers but Wednesday night's loss showed what a team that has issues of its own can do to the Nittany Lions. Much stronger opponents lurk ahead.
Next up: The Nittany Lions will host Penn (2-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Bryce Jordan Center.
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