The Penn State men’s basketball team suffered a loss even greater than its game against Akron on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions were outscored 53-24 in the second half and lost to the Zips 85-60 in the fifth place game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff Tournament, but also saw all-Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier leave the game with an injury.
Frazier went down with 14:30 left in the first half with an injury to his lower left leg, according to team officials, who add his injury status is “day-to-day.” Team officials also said Frazier “walked out of the arena under his own power, unassisted,” after the game. Team doctors will evaluate the injury when the Nittany Lions return to State College today.
D.J. Newbill had game-highs in points (20) and assists (5) and also added six rebounds but he left the game with just under a minute left to play because of cramps, according to team officials.
But it was the early loss of its senior point guard that hampered Penn State (2-2).
“I felt like we played a great first 20 minutes, but when you lose a player of the caliber of a Tim Frazier and he’s your point-guard as well, its very difficult,” coach Patrick Chambers said. “He’s a high production player, and we just couldn’t sustain it in the second half.”
Frazier, who played in all 45 minutes of Penn State’s overtime victory over Providence on Friday, entered the game as the team’s leader in points, assists and steals and was second in rebounds.
Penn State looked like it would stay strong without Frazier, even going on a 9-2 run in his absence to take their biggest lead of 23-15 with 9:34 remaining in the half.
But Akron (3-2) countered with a 6-0 run and finished the half down just 36-32.
Zeke Marshall led the Zips with 17 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots. Marshall, the son of former Nittany Lion basketball player Jon Marshall (1972-74), was just 3-for-3 from the field but made 11 of 15 from the foul line.
Demetrius Treadwell added 10 points and five rebounds for the Zips, who also got 11 points from Jake Kretzer and 10 points from Carmelo Betancourt, both off the bench.
The Nittany Lions began the game by shooting 8 of 15 from the field and 4 of 5 from the 3-point line in the opening 10 minutes, and Newbill accounted for 10 of the team’s first 18 points. Penn State hadn’t made more than four shots from behind the arc in each of its first three games.
Freshman Brandon Taylor scored 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting and added three rebounds off the bench. Ross Travis was just 1-for-11 from the field but landed his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive. He was 9 of 11 from the foul line.
The second half belonged to the Zips, who disrupted the Nittany Lions’ offense with full-court pressure. Akron went on a 31-7 run that led to a 63-43 advantage, and at one point made nine consecutive field goals.
“We tried to keep it together,” Chambers said. “We work on it in practice all the time (playing without Frazier), just not for that long of a period, but we just weren’t able to do it.
“We have to pick up the pieces and continue to get better. We have to figure out how we are going to play and compete with the group we have for as long as we may not have Tim.”
For the game, the Zips shot 27-for-48 from the field (56 percent) and 8 of 16 from the 3-point line (50 percent). Penn State shot just 20-of-55 (36 percent) from the field and 7-of-21 (33 percent) from the 3-oint line.
“I thought Zeke Marshall played a tremendous game and obviously really impacted our ability to score around the basket with his great shot-blocking ability,” said Chambers, whose team hosts Bucknell on Friday. “He’s the son of a great Penn State alum in Jon Marshall and I was happy for him.”