After taking control of the game early on, Penn State let a double-digit lead slip away in the final three minutes and was taken to overtime by visiting Delaware State on Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center before its two veteran guards made some big buckets to give the Nittany Lions (6-4) an 80-76 win.
D.J. Newbill (2) had four of his team-high 22 points in overtime in Saturday's win.
Top performers: D.J. Newbill scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and added five rebounds and five assists. He played with four fouls from the 9:07 mark on. Jermaine Marshall had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Sasa Borovnjak had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Casey Walker had 24 points, Tyshawn Bell 15, Albert Thomas 13 and Tahj Tate 10 for Delaware State (5-6), which shot 50 percent in the second half.
What went right: Penn State's big men finally made some layups, and the guards got in on it as well. The Nittany Lions moved the ball well early on and set each other up for open shots. Penn State got eight points, three rebounds and a blocked shot in 12 productive minutes for freshman Donovon Jack and Borovnjak, with Ross Travis in foul trouble, gave the Nittany Lions a third scoring threat. After an unsettling collapse in regulation, Penn State was able to recover mentally and make enough plays down the stretch to pick up an ugly win.
What went wrong: The Nittany Lions didn't close out on opposing shooters, Walker and Bell in particular, which led to open 3-pointers, and did a poor job containing the basketball down the stretch and in overtime. They missed free throws at a number of key junctures and had a couple of costly turnovers during Delaware State's late comeback. Foul trouble kept Travis from having an impact and limited Newbill at the defensive end.
Quotable: "They went down three (in overtime) and could have folded the tents. … That's progress. That's what I'm taking out of this game. I'm trying to be positive here." -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers
"We have be able to defend better, much better, to be able to compete in the Big Ten." -- Chambers
"We thought we had them where we wanted them, but they played hard. We just have to keep playing. We get teams down, we've got to keep playing hard on defense and not let that happen." -- Penn State guard D.J. Newbill on Delaware State's late comeback that sent the game into overtime.
"He said, 'We work on this every day, this is what we want. We're going to grind this out. This is attitude.' I think we showed that, for the most part." -- Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall, on what Chambers said to the team between regulation and overtime.
Statworthy: Newbill tied a career high with 22 points and Borovnjak was one point shy of his career high. … Marshall had a career-high five assists. … The Nittany Lions are 2-0 in overtime games under Chambers, with both wins coming this season.
Summary: Some smooth drives to the basket by Newbill were about all that stood in the way of what could easily have been a devastating upset. Chambers said he was "in heaven" as he watched his team jump out to a 21-3 lead in the first few minutes, but he couldn't have been pleased as the Nittany Lions let an athletic but inferior Delaware State side back in the game, then tie it up in the final minutes of regulation. Once again, it was Penn State's defense -- or lack thereof -- that was the culprit. It was good to see Jack and Maduegbunam get some minutes, especially since Jon Graham was under the weather and Travis was in foul trouble, but this team is still worlds away from where it needs to be to put up anything more than a struggle in Big Ten play. The talent is there but the consistency at both ends has been nearly nonexistent. Penn State has three more non-conference games to generate some momentum before conference play begins.
Note: Chambers said that forward Patrick Ackerman, who had been indefinitely suspended late last month, has been fully reinstated.
Next up: Penn State will host New Hampshire at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23 in the Bryce Jordan Center.