PENN STATE 84, MONMOUTH 52: Nittany Lions stay hot, win fourth straight
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State coach Patrick Chambers says the depth of his squad is improving so much that he doesn’t quite know how to handle it.
The Nittany Lions (5-1) won their fourth straight game Tuesday night, defeating Monmouth 84-52 with another balanced scoring attack.
Tim Frazier scored 19 points and Allen Roberts added 17 as the Nittany Lions held Monmouth to 22 second-half points and upped their record to 5-1. D.J. Newbill added 15 points and Ross Travis 11.
Twelve PSU players saw playing time and 10 scored.
“I’m still getting used to it,” Chambers said. “For two years I played six guys.”
Roberts, a transfer from Miami (Ohio) who was the second man off the bench, complements Penn State’s established backcourt duo of Frazier and Newbill. He was 6-for-6 from the foul line and 3-for-5 from 3-point range while adding three rebounds.
“(Allen) is a fifth-year senior who’s been the leading scorer on his team for four years and is willing to be selfless because he wants to win basketball games,” Chambers said.
“You trust Tim and D.J. and Ross so much you want them on the floor, but you have a lot of confidence in Allen and Graham (Woodward) and Geno (Thorpe) and Wiz (Allen Wisniewski).
“It’s good to see,” Chambers said. “We have to continue on that path. They have to get minutes as we approach the Big Ten.”
Frazier, with seven assists, became the fourth player in Penn State history to total more than 1,000 career points and 500 assists.
Penn State, which averaged nearly 82 points per game through its first five contests, maintained its hot hand from the field. Penn State shot 53.8 percent from the floor and converted 9 of 24 shots from 3-point range.
The Lions also won the rebounding battle with a 35-21 edge. Newbill chipped in with nine and Frazier seven. But the key to the team’s recent offensive outburst has been Roberts blending in.
“It’s an adjustment because you have to learn different traits (of players),” Roberts said. “I’m used to dribbling the ball a lot, coming off ball screens.
“But I’m trying to become a complete player, moving off the ball, coming off the glass and doing other things than just dribbling the basketball. I would rather be on this team than be a leading scorer anywhere else.”
Monmouth (1-4) stayed with Penn State for most of the opening half, closing to within five late, but a 3-pointer by Roberts and a short jumper from Ross Travis opened a 10-point lead.
Josh James’ 12 points led the Hawks. Zac Tillman and Max DiLeo scored seven apiece.
“In the first half I thought we played pretty well,” Monmouth coach King Rice said. “I think what happened, and it’s totally my fault, they were on their third game on the road in a high major building, and our kids stood up to them every single time.
“Tonight, after the 20-minute mark we just didn’t have enough. They’re stronger and they’re bigger and the three games in a row wore my kids down. That’s on me because I should not put them against three high majors in a row.”
A series of Monmouth turnovers and missed shots enabled Penn State to pull away just four minutes into the second half.
The Hawks, who have no seniors on their roster, committed just five turnovers in the first half but were guilty of five in the opening five minutes of the second as Penn State’s defensive pressure enabled the Lions to roll up a 19-4 run.
Overall, sixteen turnovers by Monmouth led to 24 points for Penn State.
“We started turning the ball over and they were getting second-chance baskets and their three-quarter press threw us off a lot,” Rice said. “We usually handle those things a lot better.
“Tonight we just couldn’t do it and I felt bad for my kids out there. We lost our fight a little bit tonight. Penn State made us lose our fight. Before that becomes a problem, we’re going to clean it up tomorrow.”
Penn State’s Frazier, Newbill, Travis and Wisniewski combined for a quick 15 points to open the second half. Wisniewski hit the floor to save a possession on an errant Frazier 3-pointer and quickly tossed the ball to an open Frazier, who converted from the top of the key and the rout was on.
Each team maintained its shooting pace deep into the game. The Hawks’ cold spell netted just 11 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half while the red-hot Lions approached the 55-percent range before cooling down late.