Heading into this game, questions loomed on how PSU's Frazier-less backcourt would match-up with the Explorers' counterparts. While Penn State hung in for the first 25 minutes, La Salle's duo of Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren were simply too much for Penn State to contain. Without Frazier's speed on defense, the Lions lacked any capable resistance to Duren's penetration, forcing the Lions to play most of the game in zone.
That didn't go over so well as the Explorers were money from the lottery line all night long. La Salle made eight 3-pointers in both halves and finished the game 16-29 (55%) from behind the arc. You are never going to win a basketball when surrendering that kind of production from behind the arc.
La Salle was able to penetrate the middle of Penn State's defense all game long, regardless of what looks the Lions threw at them. The Explorers' bigs, particularly Steve Zack, did a phenomenal job navigating the ball through the zone for outside jumpers. They only turned the ball over four times as Penn State was incapable of pressuring the rock against the bigger, quicker Explorers. Tyreek Duren was unstoppable as he went for a career-high 29 points. Once they got their confidence, Penn State simply wilted away in the 2nd half as the offense was nowhere near capable of keeping pace with that kind of production.
For the first 25 minutes, however, they gave it their best shot thanks to an inspired effort from Ross Travis and even Sasa Borovnjak. The ensuing circus that is Penn State's frontcourt took another turn as Borovnjak came off the bench and nearly logged a double-double. His eight first half points were crucial to keeping pace with the Explorers. He scored back-to-back buckets that gave Penn State some momentum heading into the lockerroom, cutting a once 10-point La Salle lead down to 4 at halftime. Borovnjak's production kept Graham on the bench, as he was a non-factor throughout the game.
Travis continued to build on his newfound offensive aggression, getting to the rim and displaying great confidence. He scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting to along with 8 rebounds, although he also faded a bit in the second half.
Jermaine Marshall led the team in scoring once again with 19 points, as he continues to step up to help fill Frazier's void. Newbill didn't have the greatest homecoming, but did an admirable job handling the ball against pesky ball pressure from La Salle's guards. Chambers wasn't particularly thrilled with the hand-checking they were allowed to get away with and it boiled over to a Hightower-Chamber confrontation that led to Pat's first technical of the year.
What might get lost to fans, but certainly not to the players, was La Salle's Lewis Luval's classless three-pointer with 3 seconds left with the Explorers up 22. Instead of running out the clock, the freshmen wanted his moment much to the chagrin of his coach, Dr. Gianninni. It probably wasn't the smartest of ideas as Penn State surely will remember the act, as La Salle visits the BJC next season.
Surely there are brighter days ahead for this program, but with the roster they are fielding now, there just isn't many ways for this team to win without everyone contributing. When three players of your 7-man rotation gives you next to nothing, that's going to leave you in a world of hurt (or a 25-point loss to an underrated A-10 club).
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