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Lions wrap up noncon slate with win

Penn State stretched its season-long winning streak to four games and wrapped up its non-conference season at 8-4 with an 84-74 win over Duquesne on Saturday in the Bryce Jordan Center. D.J. Newbill led three Nittany Lions in double figures with 23 points and led a strong effort for the Nittany Lions at the free-throw line. The Dukes (7-7), who shot just 37 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range, made a modest charge in the final minutes but would get no closer than within five points down the stretch.

D.J. Newbill had 23 points and a double-double to lead Penn State to its fourth straight win.

Top performers: Newbill added 12 rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes. Nick Colella was 5-of-7 from 3-point range for a career-high 15 points off the bench and Sasa Borovnjak added 14 points, five boards and two blocks in 25 minutes.

Sean Johnson had 19 points for the Dukes, Quevyn Winters added 14 and Derrick Colter had 13.

What went right: The Nittany Lions played organized and aggressive basketball at both ends while building an 11-point first half lead and hung on down the stretch with solid free-throw shooting and (mostly) good care of the basketball. Penn State had one of its best offensive nights on the season on a night when usual scorers Jermaine Marshall and Brandon Taylor were mostly quiet. Colella finally brought the offensive game to match his usual terrific defensive effort and Borovnjak continued his string of recent strong play.

What went wrong: The Nittany Lions were whistled for 26 personal fouls (the Dukes had 25), which affected the rotation and helped the Dukes extend the game. Penn State had 15 turnovers but came up with just one steal. Other than Colella, who had a career night, the Nittany Lions were 3-of-13 from 3-point range.

Statworthy: Newbill was 12-of-16 from the free-throw line. The Nittany Lions were 26-of-36 (72 percent). … Penn State out-rebounded Duquesne 50-28 and had 16 offensive boards to the Dukes' 6. … Newbill and Marshall had nine of Penn State's 12 assists Saturday and have accounted for 63 percent of the team's assists this season. … Freshman guard Akosa Maduegbunam saw just one minute of action but made two clutch free throws in the closing seconds.

Quotable: "He's from Pittsburgh. Come on -- that was his Super Bowl right there. I think he was due." -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers on Colella's 5-of-7 performance from the arc.

"It was one of those days when I was feeling it and Coach said, 'Keep shooting.' … As soon as that first one goes down, my confidence goes through the roof." -- Colella, who scored a career-high 15 points off the bench.

"Penn State got up 11 (points) more because of our offense, or a lack thereof, than our defense. You just can't keep guarding and guarding in transition. We needed the ball to go through the net every once in a while." -- Duquesne coach Jim Ferry

"We felt like this game was a momentum game for us. We realize the Big Ten is going to be some of the toughest games for us this year and our principles don't change -- tough and gritty, that's our identity." -- Penn State guard D.J. Newbill

Summary: The Nittany Lions continue to take small but steady steps forward while adjusting to life without Tim Frazier. Newbill, who played through a bloody elbow and leg and after blowing out his right shoe, was steady at the point and is making better decisions with the basketball and getting his teammates into the offense while finding ways to get his own shot. Penn State is getting more production from its big men, particularly Borovnjak, which is easing the pressure at both ends on the guards. Foul trouble, as Chambers mentioned after the game, will continue to eat at this team if the Nittany Lions don't play smart defense. The preseason is over now, and every game Penn State plays from here on out will be a fight for its life. But over the last few games, the Nittany Lions have showed that kind of fight and built up the momentum they'll need against a ferocious Big Ten.

Up next: Penn State opens its Big Ten season at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Wisconsin.

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