Nittany Lions Show Signs of Life

Geoffrey AmesContributor IFebruary 14, 2009

After a tough 3 game win-less stretch, the Nittany Lions' basketball team finally showed some signs of life in a 68-63 victory over the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. 

After a rocky start in the first half that saw the Lions continuing to struggle offensively and many turnovers, Talor Battle was able to hit a three pointer as time expired in the first half.

That shot would not only give Penn State a one point lead, but it also gave a struggling Battle the confidence he has so very much been looking for.  Battle would go on a run in the second half and finished with a team-high 21 points.

Another player who was able to step up was Stanley Pringle, who heated up in the second half and finished the game with 13 points.  His three pointers helped keep the Lions’ alive in a back-and-forth type of scoring game. 

A big surprise was the play of Chris Babb, who played 18 minutes due to an injury to Danny Morrissey.  Babb ran the offense fairly well and also contributed with 8 points of his own.

Devoe Joseph went on a late run for the Golden Gophers, hitting seven of eight three pointers down the stretch.  The Lions always seemed to have an answer, however, keeping the game close.  In fact, Talor Battle had a big steal from Devoe with 1 minute to play and took it for an easy lay-up/and one to give the Lions a 5 point lead with less than a minute to go.

A large factor in the win for Penn State was their clutch free-throw shooting, especially down the stretch.  Uncharacteristically, the team hit 75% of their free-throws, including several in the last three minutes.  The team took advantage of the Gophers going into the bonus and double-bonus in fouls.  They were also able to penetrate into the paint and create opportunities by kicking the ball out and hitting jump shots.

Although this is a great win, the Lions have a lot to work on.  At times the defense had problems with communication when playing zone, leaving Joseph open on several occasions when coming off screens.  All things considered, however, Penn State seems to be back on track.