Penn State Outlasts Purdue, Extends Win Streak

Story posted February 3, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jason Kohler

 

The Nittany Lions won their third straight Big Ten Conference game, as they outlasted the Purdue Boilermakers 79-68, and were led by a strong performances from the team’s leading scorers D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier.

Despite some late pushes from the Boilermakers, the Nittany Lions were able to maintain their composure as time and time again Penn State players stepped up to the line and knocked down their free throws.

Penn State (12-10, 3-6 Big Ten) won their third straight conference game for the first time since 2009, conversely, Purdue (13-9, 3-6 Big Ten) has dropped four consecutive conference games, and are now tied for second-last in the conference along with the Nittany Lions.

Both teams were under 50% shooting from the field, as Penn State shot 41.4% and the Boilermakers shot a percent better 42.4%. Penn State was 5-20 from beyond the arc and Purdue was just 3-11 from deep.

For Penn State, points off turnovers were crucial, as they converted 18 points off 14 Boilermaker turnovers. For Purdue, points in the paint kept them in it along with second half offensive rebounding. Purdue is leading the conference in that category.

A.J. Hammons led the way for Purdue with 18 points and 12 boards, but was unable to finish on a few opportunities that were crucial to the Boilermakers attempt at a comeback.

“We just gotta be able to score around the rim because that’s what you want as a coach, you want to get as many opportunities at the basket as possible,” said Purdue coach Matthew Painter.

A slow start found the Nittany Lions down 14-7, with just over five minutes gone by in the half. The Lions responded with a 21-4 run to take a 28-18 lead 10 minutes into the half. Despite a quick start for Purdue, they did not look sharp early, picking up four early fouls and turning the ball over, on multiple trips down the court.

Penn State’s defense looked a step behind to start the game, as Purdue started 7-8 from the field, but once they settled in they really locked down the Purdue offense.

Good ball movement was key for the Nittany Lions on the offensive end, as everyone on the court was getting involved in the first half, and seven members of the Lions got on the board.

Penn State could not keep all the momentum as Purdue’s defense stepped up and Penn State foul trouble helped the Boilermakers quietly climb back into the game, as they only trailed by with a score of 28-24 with around four minutes left in the opening half.

Going into the half, Newbill led the team in scoring with 9.Tim Frazier chipped in six points and three assists, along with three other Nittany Lions adding three points of their own, all from beyond the arc. For Purdue, seven-foot sophomore A.J. Hammons led the way with 9 of his own, with sophomore Ronnie Johnson contributing six points and two assists.

The second half got under way with the teams trading baskets early and fouls being called early and often. Purdue ran into their seventh team foul just over six minutes into the half. On the other side of the ball for Penn State, Tim Frazier picked up his third foul early in the half sending him to the bench for an early breather.

Penn State was able to get into transition and Brandon Taylor’s second three of the game pushed the lead to 10 for Penn State.

The double-digit lead was short-lived as the Boilermakers went on an 8-0 run of their own thanks to some key offensive rebounds from center A.J. Hammons and a big three from Errick Peck cutting the lead to two, 51-49.

The intensity really picked up just past midway in the half, as John Johnson of Penn State and Ronnie Johnson of the Boilermakers picked up offsetting technical fouls after a bit of jawing after an out-of-bounds call.

Penn State was able to hang onto the lead, as heading into the final two minutes of the game they were able to push the lead up to nine, 68-59, with 1:45 left to go in the game.  Purdue was able to cut the lead to five after a layup, a Penn State turnover and another layup for the Boilermakers.

“Purdue plays really really hard. They’re very physical, they’re very tough, they’re well coached. You knew they were gonna come back, they have to much fight in them,” said head coach Pat Chambers.

Despite troubles closing games earlier in the year, the Nittany Lions did not panic. They kept their poise down the stretch and were able to connect on their free throws, hitting 11-12 in the final two minutes of the game.

“We’ve been in that situation before, so I think that helped us out and we stayed together as a team,” said Frazier.

Brandon Taylor was a key third option for Penn State, finishing the game with 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds, as well as going 5-6 from the free throw line.

Penn State is set to take on number seven Michigan State, on Wednesday, in East Lansing.

Jason Kohler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jdk5342@psu.edu.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Abby Drey)