But for a PSU team with no inside game, it was too little, too late. The bumbling Eagles … fresh off a loss to Bryant … regrouped after nearly blowing their big lead and escaped with a 73-61 victory.
The Lions dropped to 3-3 on the season despite the impressive rally, which was fueled by guards D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall. That duo combined for 47 points and helped PSU reduce a 59-39 deficit to 60-57 before B.C. (3-4) edged away at the end of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup.
“The first half, we kind of played too timid,” Newbill said. “We loosened up a little bit and started playing smarter and harder. We definitely played hard in the second half. It was basically our effort.”
To their credit, the Lions -- led by the hustling Newbill and Marshall -- never gave up even after it appeared they would be run out of the arena. B.C. led 59-39 with 5:22 remaining
State cut it to 59-53 on three Marshall free throws and a Newbill steal and score with 4:02 remaining. That capped a 14-0 run. PSU would later get it down to 60-57 when Newbill made one of two free throws.
But by this time the Lions were gassed. The Eagles responded by pounding the ball inside, getting a couple of free throws and then a dunk from center Andrew Van Nest to all but seal it.
Wednesday's game further exemplified how limited the Nittany Lions are now that star guard Tim Frazier is out for the season following surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon. It also showed just how many shortcomings the super athletic Frazier was able to cover up by being able to create his own shots off the dribble.
B.C. took advantage of PSU's lack of inside talent by pressing out on the perimeter early in the game. When the Eagles played man-to-man, Newbill or Marshall would occasionally sneak past them for a bucket -- but neither can slice through a defense like Frazier. And that was about the extent of State's half-court offense.
It was even worse when the Eagles went zone. State would slowly pass the ball around the arc, and with no viable options inside would more often than not settle for a long bomb late in the shot clock. The Lions opened the game 2 of 9 from 3-point range.
Penn State had two assists against 10 turnovers in the first half, and trailed 31-24 at the break. Starting center Job Graham had no points, no rebounds and one turnover through 20 minutes. Backup big man Sasa Borovnjak had no points and one rebound.
It did not take long to go from bad to worse in the second half. PSU closed it to 33-28 on a jumper by rookie Brandon Taylor, but B.C. responded with a 26-11 run to blow it wide open.
The late rally actually happened when Penn State went without a center and began pressuring all over the floor. B.C. was not ready for it. The chaotic pace allowed Newbill (25 points) and Marshall (22) to flourish. Marshall had 18 in the second half alone.
“We pressed,” PSU coach Pat Chambers said. “I decided we needed to leave it all out on the floor.”
At the end of the day, however, the dynamic duo was not enough. The rest of the Lions combined for 14 points, led by forward Ross Travis' five.
“D.J. and Jermaine, they need help,” Chambers said. “They can't do it all on their own.”